A Week in Google: A New Gmail Look and a Bad iPhone App

4 minute read
Chelsi Nakano avatar

Lots of negativity in the world of Google this week. In addition to the big disappointment that was the Gmail app for the iPhone, there's plenty of trash being talked about the new look of Gmail and Google Reader. 

Google Responds Over Rapid Removal of iPhone Gmail App

After weeks of previews and leaked news, the highly anticipated Gmail app for the iPhone was supposed to be a bit of a star. Alas, this star soon went nova as iPhone users complained and technical issues became immediately apparent.

Google quickly removed the app from the store and put up a brief note: "Earlier today we launched a new Gmail app for iOS. Unfortunately, it contained a bug which broke notifications and caused users to see an error message when first opening the app. We’ve removed the app while we correct the problem, and we’re working to bring you a new version soon. Everyone who’s already installed the app can continue to use it."

While the main error could be a configuration problem, and easily solved, these other issues need to be addressed before Google tries again. Does this affair show Google's real disdain for the millions of iOS users, as it focuses on Android? Or is there really a problem with Google's semi-permanent beta-first approach to its apps?

Google Opens Up New Gmail Experience for All

The new and s-called improved version of Google's Gmail service is now one click away. The "Switch to the new look" button at the bottom right of your Gmail web page opens up a neater, refined looking page and a range of new customization options:


The switching menu does mention that users will automatically be upgraded in the near future, so if you're not a fan, we recommend getting used to it anyway. If you do like the look overall, but think there's too much white space, then go to the options menu and choose from "Cozy" or "Compact" to tighten up the space between messages.

The change is similar to the recent Blogger update and suggests that other Google services will soon look the same way for a consistent view, and easier interoperability between them. Let us know what you like or hate about the new interface

Google Reader Users Unimpressed by 'Improvements'

In addition to the new Gmail look, Google rolled out a revamped version of Google Reader, and plenty of users are less than thrilled about the changes. In fact, some Reader users are migrating to Twitter as an RSS feed reader, instead.

The new look is extremely minimal and white, matching the new Gmail interface:


Google+ Gets New YouTube, Chrome Features

Google still has a long way to go before all elements of its massive digital realm  are integrated under the scope of its fledgling social media effort, Google+. But, slowly and surely it's making a start. The latest effort is the addition of a neat YouTube icon at the top right of your Google+ page.

Learning Opportunities

Searching for something yields a pop-up window showing a list of the latest content in playlist form. Find a video you like and you can share with one click back to your Google+ friends. You can also leave the pop-up window playing your playlist.

Of course, Google would rather you used its own browser for the task, and has added a couple of extensions to improve integration. A +1 button allows you to Plus any webpage and share it with friends in your circles.

A Notifications button allows you to check your Google+ notifications while you browse the web, so you can see who's been in touch. Click on it and you see any new or recent notifications with another link to view your regular notifications page, if there's lots going on:




Google to Charge Heavy Users for Maps Access

Most users (and many businesses) think of Google as an endless source of great free stuff, but that may be coming to an end as the company starts charging for heavy usage of its Maps API service.

Companies whose sites provide access to Google Maps (usually in the guise of a "find this business" tool) for more than 25,000 users a day will be charged from the start of next year for accesses beyond that number. Google insists a modest fee will only hit a tiny fraction of its API users (some 0.35% at current usage rates) and presumably those sizes of organizations are more than able to pay up.

The news was announced on the Google Geo developers' blog, via a change in the terms of service, which was informally announced earlier in the year. Google is upselling its Maps API premier as one solution, or companies can lower their usage, or just pay the toll.