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Google.com is testing a busier homepage with a row of information cards

Enlarge / Wow, there are maps at the bottom of the Google homepage!

Check out this totally crazy Google homepage experiment spotted by 9to5Google: the search page suddenly has a row of cards at the bottom. If this design is widely adopted, it would easily be google.com’s biggest design change ever.

In the experiment, Google.com has a row of six cards at the bottom of the page. There’s weather, trending searches, “what to watch,” a stock map, local events, and COVID news. Clicking on a map will expand it or load a search results page. There is also a “hide content” switch, which will turn off the maps. This all looks very similar to the Google.com app, which offers a drop-down list of “discover” cards.

One of the reasons Google Search initially became popular was that the search page was simple and easy to use. Competition at the time included search engines like Yahoo and Alta Vista, which presented users with a massive wall of ads and content. Google’s austerity was a major differentiator early on, and it’s interesting to see the company moving a little closer to Yahoo’s days, even as it presents a more modern take on the idea.

You must be wondering how many people are still using the Google.com search page. If you have Google’s browser, Chrome, you hardly ever see it. Chrome’s “New Tab” page appears similar to Google.com, but it’s not the same thing, and the prevalence of address bars that double as search bars makes a search homepage rather obsolete. So far, there’s been no indication that Google plans to release the design change as a permanent feature, but the company seems set to make some big changes to search lately. Dark Mode (shown in the screenshot) rolled out just five months ago.

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