Google about six months ago started to roll out the black bar on top of most of their properties. This bar displayed the logged in Google user's username, linked to popular Google destinations such as Google Search, Maps or Mail, and displayed options to modify user account related preferences, privacy settings or settings that affected the Google product the user was using.
Today Google announced that they have started to roll out a new look for some of their most popular properties. The change affects Google Search, News, Maps, Translate, Gmail and other products that have not been mentioned explicitly in the announcement on the Google Blog site.
The new design does away with the black bar and replaces it with a much smaller header element that is called the gray bar. This bar consists of three different regions. First the Google logo on the left incorporating a drop-down menu, a search for the particular Google product the user is currently using and a third area with sharing and account related links.
The down arrow on the right side of the Google logo leads to a product list. This makes it possible to navigate to other Google properties with two clicks from any of the supported Google product pages. This works even if the user is not logged into any Google account.
Search is now displayed in the middle of the gray bar. Users can use it to search for information provided by the Google Product they are currently using.
The sharing section finally confirms Google's intention to push the Google+ social networking service. It is the only Google product that is linked prominently in the gray bar. The account picture finally displays links to the user's Google profile, Google+ as well as general account and privacy related settings. a new Switch account option has been added to give users an option to switch accounts more conveniently.
The changes are being rolled out currently with no information when they may reach all users. I for one see the black bar on all Google properties and all web browsers at the moment.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.