If you do not like the black menu bar that Google displays on top of most of the company's properties to interlink between them, now is your time to rejoice as the company confirmed that it will replace it with a lighter design.
We all know that Google is constantly tweaking and A-B testing new designs and features. Most of them land in an archive of sorts and are never rolled out, while some are rolled out to all Google products and for all users who visit the sites and services.
Some Google users have noticed that the company has replaced the black menu bar with a lighter version for them. First sign of the new design dates back as early as February 2013 when it was first reported that Google may launch a new grid-layout menu on its properties.
The core difference between the black menu and the new grid menu is that the latter consists of a single button that displays core Google properties on click, and that you can scroll down to the "more" section instead of having to click on the more link to get there.
Google Plus Daily reports that the new design will be visible on several Google products, including Google+, Gmail, Search, Blogger and others, and likely also on YouTube.
That the change happens has been confirmed by Google+ community manager Justine Rivero. According to her comment, it will be rolled out over the coming weeks for all users.
Users who are switched to the new design are introduced to it via a small notification message that is displayed right underneath the new light bar. It reads:
Welcome to the new way to find your favorite Google products.
Click the grid to have a look.
The change moves all links pointing to Google products to the menu, so that users will have to click one more time to switch to a different Google service, provided that they used to click on the black menu bar as well to do so.
The design looks similar to the Chrome OS app launcher as it is using the same grid and layout, with the exception of the find bar on top that is not available in the new grid menu that Google will roll out.
Tip: Google Chrome users can enable the feature for the browser's new tab page by loading the following page chrome://flags/#enable-instant-extended-api and setting the value of the preference to enabled.
It is interesting to note that some links are still displayed directly when you enable the feature in Chrome. It is not clear if this will also be the case for the new menu bar.
Is it a good or bad change? That depends largely on how you made use of the Google menu bar. If you have used it actively, you will now have to click once more to access Google products that you want to load in your web browser of choice.
Update: If you want to test the interface right away, do the following:
- Load google.com in your web browser of choice.
- Chrome or Opera 15+: Use Ctrl-Shift-J to open the developer's console.
- Firefox: Use Ctrl-Shift-K to open the developer console.
- Opera 12: Press Ctrl-Shift-I
- Internet Explorer: Press F12 and switch to Console.
Paste the following line into it and hit return
document.cookie="PREF=ID=e66a207a51ceefd8:U=936bafc98b2a9121:FF=0:LD=en:NR=10:CR=2:TM=1378808351:LM=1379592992:SG=1:S=OXyq0fqClYB66VuV ; path=/; domain=google.com";window.location.reload();
The page should reload automatically and the new interface should become visible. (thanks Blogs DNA)
How to restore the Google Black Bar
If you like the black bar that Google displayed for quite some time on top of its web services, then you can get it back with the help of browser extensions and user scripts.
Google Black Bar Returns is a free userscript for Firefox and Google Chrome that adds the black bar to all Google websites again. Chrome users can install the script right away:
- Click the install button and download the script to your system. You receive information that Apps, extensions, and user scripts cannot be added from this website. This is normal and no need to worry.
- Load chrome://extensions/ in the web browser.
- Drag and drop the downloaded script to the extensions page to install it.
The black bar links to several Google properties such as YouTube, Gmail, News or Google Drive. While it is not a 100% copy of the original toolbar, it is offering that toolbar's main functionality and that's what counts in the end.