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July 13, 2009

Google Chrome Suggests Popular Web Pages

The developer version of Google Chrome has recently enabled the updated new tab page, which is more customizable as it lets you remove, reorder and pin thumbnails.

One of the sections from the new tab page is "Tips and suggestions", but it's empty. A recent Chromium build revealed the mystery of the blank container: Google shows popular web pages from the iGoogle gadget "What's popular". The gadget "uses algorithms to find interesting content from a combination of your submissions and trends in aggregated user activity across a variety of Google services, like YouTube and Google Reader".

Suggesting web pages is not a bad idea for the new tab page, but they should be related to your browsing history. Internet Explorer 8 has a feature called "suggested sites", which can be enabled when you install the software and it monitors your browsing activity to show related web pages. Google has a "web history" service which can use Google Toolbar to track the web pages you visit, while offering a searchable browsing history, stats and recommended web pages. It's hard to find the right balance between privacy and utility, but Google has always pushed the boundaries of what's acceptable, even if it was vilified by the media.

This blog is not affiliated with Google.