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August 29, 2011

New Interface for Google Docs Apps

Consistency is great, but not when it makes an application more difficult to use. Google Docs tests new interfaces for the document editor and Google Spreadsheets. Inspired by Google+, the new interfaces remove all the colors from the icons and other UI elements, remove the Google Docs logo, add new scrollbars and a "Collaborate" menu that includes all the features from the "Share" drop-down.

The new grayscale buttons from the toolbar make it more difficult to find the right feature. They're are less intuitive, harder to distinguish and look like disabled buttons. Compare the two versions of the "paint format" button (the fifth button):

Unlike the new interfaces for Gmail and Google Calendar, the updated Google Docs apps don't use too much whitespace. You can switch to the new interfaces by clicking "Try now" in a small message that announces the changes when you open a Google Docs document or spreadsheet. To go back to the old UI, choose "Use the classic look" from the "Help" menu.

In other related news, Google Sites also tests a new UI:

{ Thanks, AndrĂ¡s, Louis, Thomas and Cougar. }

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