This week in the Google-verse we got an accidental sneak peak at the new look of Gmail, handy new visual features in Analytics, and a goodbye letter from dear ol' Buzz. 

New Gmail Design Leaked! 

A new video has surfaced on YouTube that breaks down a redesigned version of Gmail. Google has since confirmed it to be real. 

"Oops, you weren’t supposed to see that," Google's Andrea Freund said. "Stay tuned, we’ll be sharing more info on Gmail’s new look soon."

Here are some notable changes:

  • The presentation of conversations now features a larger tab and a profile picture. 
  • You can now choose between three versions of the Gmail layout: comfortable, cozy, and compact. Each one squeezes the messages closer together than the last.
  • A drop-down menu for the search bar now features the ability to query more specific topics than you could before. 

Check those and others out in the leaked video below:

Google to Shutter Buzz, APIs

Characterizing it as a “Fall Sweep,” Google said it is shuttering Google Buzz, the controversial social networking service and application program interface (API) toolset that works with Gmail, and focus instead on Google+.

“Changing the world takes focus on the future, and honesty about the past. We learned a lot from products like Buzz, and are putting that learning to work every day in our vision for products like Google+," said the team. "Our users expect great things from us; today’s announcements let us focus even more on giving them something truly awesome.”

Both the platform and the API will go dark in just a couple weeks, meaning users won't be able to create new posts. They will however, be able to view their existing content on their Google Profile, and download it using Google Takeout.

Also included in the Google Fall Sweep are Code Search, which was designed to help people search for open source code all over the web. It will be shut down along with the Code Search API on January 15, 2012.

Google+ Branded Pages, Google Apps Integration Coming "Soon" 

Google has had some hard times on the social media front, but the nail seems to have finally been hit with Plus: the network is being held steady by 40 million users and counting. Naturally, the Internet giant has been doing everything in its power to boost that number, including the launch of new services like integration of Google Apps accounts and the pending Goolge+ business profiles. 

The company says services like Apps integration, are coming “in a manner of days,” But Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering at Google, offered no formal time-table on the release date for Branded Pages service on Google+, when speaking at the recent Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. 

Google said its rapid growth, exacerbated by the lifting of the “invite-only” status of the new social networking haven in June, has delayed implementation of some key services. In other words, while you might be delighted that Plus is putting Big G on the social media map, you can also blame its popularity for the slow turnout of services. 

Learning Opportunities

Google Analytics Launches In-Depth Flow Visualizations

If you're a pictures person, you'll love the new Flow Visualizations feature in Google Analytics. The new feature was announced by  Susan Wojcicki, Google's SVP of ads, at this year's Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. 

Today, there are two flow visualizations: Visitors Flow and Goal Flow. 

Visitors Flow displays traffic sources and other such dimensions in order to map the paths taken to exit. “Nodes are automatically clustered according to an intelligence algorithm that groups together the most likely visitor flow through a site,” explains Phil Mui of the Google Analytics team. “You’ll also notice that we made the visualization highly interactive. You can interact with the graph to highlight different pathways, and to see information about specific nodes and connections. For example, if you want to dive deeper into your “specials” set of pages, you can hover over the node to see more at a glance.”

Goal Flow, pictured below, shows how visitors travel through goal steps and where they drop off.


"Because the goal steps are defined by the site owner, they should reflect the important steps and page groups of interest to the site,” continued Mui. “In this first iteration, we’re supporting only URL goals, but we’ll soon be adding events and possibly other goal types."

By providing deep insight and understanding on a very accessible level, both flows will be handy in the quest to reduce bounces, exits and abandon points. They will also help to reveal how visitors navigate the steps you define, and how they interact with your site. 

The people of the Internet are always fairly quick to call something a game changer, but  this feature might actually be one. Do you agree?