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July 29, 2011

Google's Tablet-Optimized Interface

Google's services don't usually have interfaces optimized for tablets. They either use the desktop version (Google Search) or use the mobile version (Google Calendar, Google Docs). An important exception is Gmail, which started to test a tablet UI shortly after iPad's launch.

Google tests a new homepage and a new search interface for tablets. Unlike the standard desktop version, the new UI places the navigation menu and the search options sidebar at the top of the page, so that the search results take up most of the space.

Amit Agarwal, who first spotted the experimental design, says that it's cleaner. "The new Google design uses a single column layout, while the old sidebar options appear between the search box and the search results. There's plenty of whitespace between search results and links to the Cached version of pages have been removed in the new design."

The new layout is more readable and it's also used for specialized search engines like Google Image Search and Google News. Google Image Search for iPad now uses infinite scrolling and shows a lot more results. Unfortunately, the list of missing feature is impressive: no Google Instant or Google Suggest, no links to the cached pages or to the mobile transcoder, no link to the advanced search page.

I've only seen the experimental UI in iPad's mobile Safari, but I'm sure that it should also be available for Android tablets like Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Clearing browser's cookies might help.

Update: Google Mobile blog informs that the new UI "is rolling out in the coming days to iPad and Android 3.1+ tablets across 36 languages."

{ Thanks, Mushaf. }


  1. Hey it looks great ! How can you have it outside a tablet ?

  2. @zorglub probably by changing your browser's user-agent so it identifies itself as a tablet. For firefox there is an addon, not sure about other browsers.
    I don't know if there is any other way, maybe some url parameter.. but I don't know.

  3. Where's the tablet optimized design for google reader?

  4. Making it optimised for tablets is one thing, but the amount of whitespace there is completely crazy!

  5. The web search is horrible, way too much whitespace between results, so less results on screen. The amount of whitespace that's been added to all Google services in the new UI is ridiculous.

  6. How about some way to get safari on an ipad to impersonate firefox? I dont want a differebt experince, and I'm very angry that I apparently don't even get a frikkin choice.

    And i would fix typos in here, but pinch to zoom has been disabled, so screw it.

  7. Looks awful on an iPad is it possible to go to the old look?

  8. You also now impeded access for the vision impaired by disabling zooming on the tablet optimized search. Can it be disabled?

  9. This new UI is crap. 3 results visible and then I need to scroll. Too much white space. Very regrettable that there is no option here. Google is on crack.

  10. It really sucks. When Google decides that it can produce something that everyone wants, it makes everyone suffer.

    Google is not design driven, it's jerk driven.

  11. I have changed to bing on iPad


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