Monday, January 30, 2006

Google Toolbar 4 Beta Released

Google Toolbar 4 Beta was released today, promising features such as:
- Custom buttons to provide access to services such as Gmail, Google Video and other non-Google services. They are downloadable from a button gallery, and apparently site owners will be able to produce their own buttons for download in less than 10 minutes.

- Integration with the bookmark system, currently only available through the 'personalised search' page. This actually makes the bookmark system useful, as they are readily accessible. It is possible to tag the bookmarks, in a similar way to other services such as Delicious.

- Google suggest-type feature, including not only suggestions for complete searches, but also 'did you mean?' and history suggestions.

- 'Send to' feature. It is possible to send any webpage to Gmail, Blogger or to a phone via SMS, although I suspect that won't work in the UK.

They have also announced a new 'enterprise edition'. Precisely what that means I'm not sure, but I expect it allows computer network administrators to manage all of the toolbars on their network from one place, and support for different user profiles on the same computer.

My major gripe with the Beta is that it has not been made available for Firefox yet. This seems odd, considering that Google itself distributes Firefox as part of the Google Pack. However, it does look like a substantial release with some potentially interesting new features.

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