Google backs off redesign of Chrome's New Tab Page

Users say awful revamp hinders productivity

Google has apparently rethought a change to its Chrome browser that had users up in arms and has restored an older design of its popular New Tab Page in the newest beta of Chrome 27.

Users were overwhelmingly against a revision of Chrome's New Tab Page (NTP) that debuted in Chrome 27 in early April. The new NTP reduced the number of thumbnails of recently visited websites from eight to four, inserted a large Google search box, shifted the Web apps view to a new button near the top of the browser window, and dumped other features, including the ability to view recently closed tabs, from the NTP.

Google announced the NTP redesign in December, when it began replacing the existing page in the "Dev" channel, the least-polished of the three builds it maintains for each edition. On April 4, it pushed the revision to the beta of Chrome 27.

Comments on various Google blogs and product discussion forums were almost universally negative from the start.

"First upgrade in 2 years I want to roll back," said Gerry Fitzgerald in a comment appended to the December blog. "Horrid. Rigid. At least let me pick which links and apps I want on the [new tab] page and give me more than 4!!!"

Google argued that the changes were necessary, that many users, not realizing they could search from Chrome's Omnibox -- Google's name for the combined address bar and search field -- steered instead for to initiate a search. "The goal is to save people time by helping them search and navigate the Web faster," contended Chrome software engineer David Holloway, in the December announcement.

Then this month, Gideon Wald of Google, who was monitoring the feedback discussions and occasionally weighing in, essentially told the disgruntled to get used to the new NTP. "We do recognize that power users will be frustrated by some aspects of this change," Wald wrote April 19. "But we know you'll be able to adapt your workflows; you are the population that's willing to learn."

That didn't sit well with Yuri Tzur. "We could also adapt to a new browser," Tzur countered. "If we're supposed to be the ones to test it, I think our feedback should be taken into consideration instead of being dismissed."

Chrome's New Tab Page
Users told Google in no uncertain terms that they hated the new look of Chrome's New Tab Page. Google has apparently heard the outcries, and restored the old design.
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