The change is to the black bar at the top of the page that currently lists Google’s non-search services such as Maps, Gmail and YouTube, plus some specialist search tools such as those for images and news.
Once the change is applied (it’s rolling out gradually to all users), the bar will now disappear. Instead, you’ll see a new icon of nine squares in a grid, appearing in the top-right of the screen next to your account user name and Google+ login (assuming you are a signed in Google user.)
This grid icon is an “App launcher” and clicking it will produce a drop-down menu with icons for the various Google services, with Google+ in prime position. However, users will be able to rearrange the icons to put the services they use most often at the top.
According to Google, the idea isn’t just to cut down on clutter, but to bring about more consistency across devices. The app launcher icon is already used on Android phones and tablets and on Chromebooks, which run a custom operating system that is largely based on the Chrome browser.
There’s also a minor tweak to the Google logo itself: the lettering is now slightly thinner, a little paler, and no longer has a drop shadow. Google hasn’t explained why it’s made that change, but the company has a reputation for rigorously testing even the most minute elements of its design, reportedly once trying out dozens of different shades of blue for use in lines on its site.
Although new to the web, the revised logo has actually been used by Google for several years on printed documents, most likely because it uses a little less color ink or toner. Hey, you don’t make $10 billion annual profits without penny pinching.
(Image credit: Arstechnica)