Google Desktop Search Sidebar Shines Bright
Over the years, Google has introduced many interesting applications which up until now, had no real centralizing base. Google Gmail, Desktop Search, Google News, Stocks, Personalized Search and Google Web Clips were all introduced with fanfare – but the underlying critique was that the applications were orbiting an invisible core which was yet to be dubbed user-friendly or sticky. For example, Yahoo’s My Yahoo and Messenger services are what not only glue the Yahoo applications together, but also keep users registered in the Yahoo system. Google today introduced Google Desktop Version 2 with a Google Sidebar that is going to become Google’s center of balance.
Google’s Desktop Sidebar brings together Google News, an RSS reader, Weather, Photo Viewer, a scratch pad, Email (Gmail and desktop email) along with Google search quickfind. Along with a Google Desktop search download, Google Sidebar is downloaded onto the computer and is a non-browser based desktop application which keeps the Google Sidebar user plugged into Google 24-7. The Sidebar can be used to search files within the users computer or via Google search.
News, Images, Mail and File search results can all be viewed within the application, which is a non-stop information center for web users. “We really want to enable people to just sit back and let the Web come to them,” explained product manager Nikhil Bhatla. Hands down, Sidebar proves that Google and Bhatla reached their goal as in my opinion Google Sidebar is the premier Google based tool available and may even replace the long loved Google toolbar.
Google’s Photos slideshow can be used to view both online images or those saved on your desktop. Additionally, Google’s Sidebar Photos is also somewhat of a photo RSS/Atom feed aggregator service, which one can use to subscribe to feeds from Flickr and other web photo blogs. One alarming trait however is the automatically added feeds. From Google “you can add photos to the slideshow by selecting folders on your computer and RSS/Atom feeds from the web. Photos from RSS/Atom feeds on frequently visited web pages are also automatically added to the Photos panel by default.”
I’m not quite sure how interested I’d be in having all of the photo feeds that I visit online to be added to my Google Sidebar Photos viewer. I’ve done some searches in Flickr and Yahoo, Google, and MSN image search engines over the past month that have turned up some questionable content. Given that other people may use my computer or be sitting near me while I’m online, I wouldn’t be too happy if some weird feed started serving adult rated images in my Google Sidebar. I’ll have to check into this a bit further, but all in all this is quite an impressive feature for keeping up with Flickr blogs and image search results.
Webclips is Google’s answer to NewsGator or other feed aggregation services. Like its Photos service, Google Webclips also automatically adds feeds from sites visited frequently “Feeds are generally updated every 30 minutes. In Options, you can manually add a feed by entering its URL, or select a recent feed to add by clicking the “Add Recent Clips” button. Feeds are automatically added based on the web pages you visit, unless you uncheck the ‘Automatically add commonly viewed clips’ checkbox.”
I’m quite happy with what I’ve seen so far of the Google Desktop Search Sidebar and will continue to look into it and its features. Google has finally released an incredibly useful application which keeps the user plugged into Google while using their computer for almost any reason. Add messenger (possibly Google owned Hello) or VOIP functions and Google would have one strong app and testing ground to compete with Yahoo.