Google has released a beta version of their new desktop search software.
Very interesting, and I haven’t even run a search yet. I’m particularly intrigued with how they are handling RSS feeds with their “Web Clips” feature
The new version starts out hiding as a little search field in the Windows task bar, but if you click on the little widget next to the search field, it expands into a strip that stretches from the top to the bottom of the right side of your screen. This strip is broken up into sections. Some of the sections have an options button, other’s don’t seem to allow customization.
* *E-mail:* Displays the title, sender and time of recent e-mail. It can watch your Gmail account and/or your desktop e-mail client. You can appearantly filter what shows up, but it isn’t obvious to me how I’d exclude some of my e-mail accounts.
* *News:* Shows headlines from various news sources. There is no obvious way to personalize this. It may draw on the settings of my personalized google home page, but they don’t call attention to that fact.
* *Web Clips:* This one is very interesting. It seems to be an RSS/Atom Feed aggregator, but with a twist. Rather than requiring you to add a feed, it seems like it is automatically adding feeds from site’s I’ve visited recently. It was already populated the first time I saw it, so it must have gone back over my history or browser cache. If you click on the options for the section, it shows a list of feeds. You can add to the list by entering a URL, or by pushing a button that will add feeds for recently visited sites. You can also tell it whether or not you want it to automatically add feeds for frequently visited sites. I wonder if it works the other way, culling sites you no longer visit frequently.
I’m a big fan of watching user behaviour and then using that information to present them with options of things that they might want to do.
* *Scratch Pad:* A little spot to type notes. Could be very handy, I often find myself opening notepad to use as a scratch pad.
* *Photos:* Seems like its a mini-slideshow. I can’t tell for sure because all my photos are on a fileserver, which it doesn’t support (yet), and I’m not in the mood to take two seconds to copy some over to my computer. From the settings, it looks like it can also pull photos out of RSS feeds.
* *Quick View:* Very strange. It’s a list of recently viewed web pages, documents and other files. According to options, I can choose to have the list show recently accessed items, or frequently accessed items with some recent items thrown in.
* *What’s Hot:* A list of topics. It looks like they are using Technorati and BlogPulse to find recently hot topics.
* *Stocks:* It should be obvious, or was the Tech Bubble too long ago?
* *Weather:* Yup.
_Update_: “Google’s overview”:http://desktop.google.com/features.html#sidebar fills in some details I might have missed at first glance.
3rd party developers can create their own plugins. I’ve installed one to show my AdSense statistics, but it doesn’t seem to be working.
The “Web Clips” is an interesting innovation. I’m not sure the rest of it is all that novel, given Pointcast, ActiveDesktop, Konfabulator, Sidecar, etc, but it does seem nicely done.
More later, probably.