Monday saw the release of yet another Google beta tool. The kings of beta released their latest toolbar (Google Toolbar 4) for both consumers and enterprise customers. The proposed key new functionality is increased personalization and customization, hopefully making it more user friendly.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s project manager for client software stated “The major direction we have taken with this version is empowering users to really personalize, configure, and customize the toolbar to the way they’d like it to be.”
The four main features are: custom buttons, centralized bookmarks, enhanced search, and a new sharing capability called “Send To”.
Customer buttons can be created to provide access to set search or data sources like RSS feeds. Building on the access to Google’s toolbar API, site owners can provide the toolbar to their visitors with links back their site.
The centralized bookmarks give users the ability to access their favorites through their Google account from any computer. This counters some of the functionality that sites like Del.icio.us were aiming to provide.
Enhanced search provides simultaneous suggestions while the user types based on popular Google searches and the user’s previous search history. It also provides potential spelling corrections for search terms similar to those found on the Google search results pages.
“Send To” gives users a simple way to send web pages via email and/or instant messaging. Whilst this can be down through the menus in Internet explorer, the ability to do it directly form your search bar will provide a much easier access. It also includes functionality to send the pages directly to a Google hosted blog which will encourage users to keep their blogs more up-to-date.
The Enterprise version gives administrators the ability, through a windows installer framework, to turn features on and off. This will allow them to provide access to corporate data from the users’ toolbar without having to update each machine.
Though currently available for use on Internet Explorer 6 and on Windows 2000/XP, Google suggests a Firefox version is not far off.
Upon my initial trial of the toolbar, the functionality is handy and relatively useful, but at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can fit on one toolbar…or is there?
Go to the toolbar.google.com to get your hands on the latest version.