With iGoogle being shut down by Google in November 2013 I thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of the Internet startpage alternatives that users of iGoogle may switch to when that time comes.
I first came into contact with Netvibes in 2006 and have used it for quite a while back then as my central hub for reading RSS feeds. I later on switched to desktop feed readers as I ran into several issues using the site that took too long to get fixed.
Netvibes at its core is a service that lets you create your own personalized start page, just like iGoogle offers to do. It gives its users control over the layout of the page, the widgets that are added to it, themes, and other personalization options.
You can concentrate on a single startpage, or use tabs to create multiple pages for different purposes. A click on the plus icon in the upper left corner of the screen displays all available widgets. Here is a short list of widget types that you can add to your startpage on Netvibes:
You can drag the widgets around on each tab to move them into the right location on the screen. Some require configuration before you can make use of them. To integrate an email account, you need to enter your login credentials for instance, while most social networking sites need to be linked to Netvibes before new notifications and messages are displayed on the site.
Netvibes supports themes which you can activate with a few clicks of the button. Here you find the usual assortment of dark and light themes.
One interesting new feature that I do not think was available before is the public page which is accessible without having to sign in first to the service. The widgets are limited though, as all that require authorization of some sort are not available for selection. If you are only interested in news, weather, information and the like, you could create a public page instead and use it without having to log in first every time you want to use the service.
If it is only feed reading and news that you are after, you can switch to reader view which offers a streamlined optimized news listing. Here you only see news and feed related contents, and not the widgets anymore. The layout is similar to other feed reading or messaging applications.
You do not find any ads listed on Netvibes. Even the free version ships without any kind of advertisement, and it appears that the operators are generating revenue from premium accounts that they make available. Premium users get access to additional features like alerts or analytics plus VIP support.
Netvibes is a solid alternative for iGoogle users. The service is fast and reliable, and it should not take long for iGoogle users to get accustomed to it. There are a few minor issues concerning drag and drop, and a few of the widgets that are offered. For the most time though, everything works fine and without larger issues.
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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.