The Google Toolbar is testing some new toys. In a beta launch available only to IE users, Google is offering several new features aimed at making the Google toolbar a more personal and more powerful browsing companion. From the addition of quick launch buttons to Google based bookmarking to closer integration with Gmail and Blogger, the toolbar upgrades look promising.

The Google toolbar still includes older features like autofill, a popup blocker, spell check and the controversial PageRank and autolink tools. But the new beta version also features five new features aimed at making surfing easier for toolbar users.

Enhanced Search Box

The idea behind this one is to help searchers find the information they are looking for more quickly. While a user types their search term into the box in Google Toolbar, Google spits out suggested terms based on popular terms, misspellings and your own search history.

Custom Buttons

The idea behind custom buttons is to provide quick launch access to a user's favorite sites and RSS feeds. Google already has a gallery of popular buttons ready for users to add to their toolbar, but the Google Toolbar site also features instructions for making your own buttons.

Bookmarks

Patterned after the Bookmarks and Favorites features offered by browsers like IE and Firefox, the Google Toolbar bookmarks feature lets users save and categorize their favorite sites for quick access. The difference is, Google users will be able to access their favorites from any computer that has the toolbar installed on it. They'll simply need to login to their Google account and pull the data into the toolbar from there.

Send To

Probably the feature that most interested me, the "Send To" feature is designed to give users a quick way to send a web page via email, SMS, or to their Blogger account. The nicest part of this feature is that users can choose to send an entire page, or a portion of the page. The ability to highlight and send to Blogger will be a feature that many bloggers will find handy.

Google Account Sign-in

The new Google Toolbar beta will also be integrated with Google Accounts, allowing users to sign in and out of services right from their toolbar. This feature will give quick access to services like the personalized Google homepage, Google Groups and Gmail accounts.

The latest version of Google Toolbar aims to jump ahead of the competing options offered by Microsoft, Yahoo! and Amazon's A9. No word yet on when the latest version will be available for Firefox users.

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January 30, 2006





Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.







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