Google’s homepage has always been known for providing a clean interface that primarily offers a search box. Google Search is currently testing a row of cards on the desktop web for a Discover-like experience.
Update 8/4: Following the original February appearance that ended after a few days, the widgets on the Google home page are more extensively tested. In the last few days we’ve had two Reports people who see it temporarily live.
New, a “Meet the new Google.com” card invites you to “Connect to personalize”. After that, tapping “Make space yours” opens a “Hello, what are you interested in?” window. which allows you to customize widgets. The options available are:
Air quality, cryptocurrency, stock market, your top stocks, nearby events, weather, trending searches, top stories, sports and what to watch
Meanwhile, by default, maps are now expanded to be squares rather than shorter rectangles. This allows more information to be displayed at a glance.
This experience being labeled as the “new Google.com” is quite interesting considering the company’s previous insistence on keeping the homepage minimalistic. That said, these items could come in handy, while the user announcement suggests a wider launch could be near.
Original 2/16: These maps appear at the very bottom of google.com. There’s a ‘Hide Content’ toggle in the lower right corner, while Google notes your postcode/city and explains that the information offered is ‘Based on your past activity’. When the window is fully expanded, six cards are offered and they all expand on hover:
- Weather: Condition icon (with) + temperature. Three-Day Hovering Forecast
- Trending: cover image with number of searches
- What to watch: Shows and movies with coverage
- Stocks/Markets: Hovering Daily Chart
- Local events: With date
- COVID News
Tap the full web result with the usual knowledge panel card and/or associated Google search experience. The number of cards that appear depends on the size of your screen with no way to scroll and see more without physically enlarging the window.
We only see this rolling out to two Google accounts, albeit on multiple connected devices, today. As such, this is most likely a test to determine if a full deployment is warranted.
This results in a Google Discover-like experience, but without subjecting people to another feed to scroll through. The company, back in 2018, was adamant that Discover wasn’t coming to the desktop web — just mobile.
What Google Search is testing today looks a lot like widgets and provides more utility to a popular web destination without cluttering up the clean experience. The weather is of course the most useful addition, although it’s a better approach than the increasingly busy Chrome New Tab page. It also takes us back to the days of the iGoogle Dashboard.
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