Last week, Google released its iGoogle personalized home page from beta. If you haven’t checked it out already, you should.
For years now, I’ve started my computing day at My Yahoo. I’m not the only one: According to Comscore, My Yahoo is the Web’s most popular home page, with 50 million loyal users.
I’d configured My Yahoo to show me the top national and international headlines, weather forecasts for San Francisco and a bunch of other cities around the globe, the current value of my stock portfolio, and the latest Giants scores.
Yahoo recently upgraded its homepage technology. Instead of choosing from a limited selection of static information sources, you can now configure your Yahoo home page with virtually any information you’d like, using Ajax-driven interactive info-widgets. You can choose from a number of modules—many of them RSS feeds—and then drag-and-drop them to create your own completely customized home page.
So what’s not to like? The new template offers fewer layout options than the old one, and I don’t particularly like the options they have. There’s now an ad at the top of the right-hand column (where I used to have my stocks). The old template had ads too, of course, big banners that spanned the top of the screen. But I was used to those, and they didn’t intrude into what I considered my part of the page. And, even though I’m a Firefox user, as a Mac loyalist I have to object to any Web site that—like the new My Yahoo—doesn’t support Safari.
So I started looking around at other home page options. Of course, I could set my home page to any page in the Web (or none). There’s no shortage of customizable home pages, either— Netscape, NetVibes, and many others have their own. For the past couple of months, I’ve been using Google’s—and I like it.
iGoogle offers much of the same stuff as the others—the customizable news feeds, stock tracking, weather forecasts, and pretty much anything else that’s available via RSS. But iGoogle also ties into Google’s many other information products, so you configure an iGoogle home page to track your Gmail, check the latest YouTube videos, get quick access to Google Docs and Spreadsheets, localize Google Map searches, and so on.
Also, because it’s Google, people will likely develop their own new widgets and add-ons for it. Google’s released its own Gadget Maker to make that development easier. And I haven’t (yet) fallen victim to the bug that’s been plaguing some iGoogle users. Bottom line: You get the best of other customizable home pages, plus some goodness that only Google can provide.