Google has launched a new personalized service that incorporates features such as Google News and Gmail within its sparse home page.
The service allows Google visitors to display content of their choosing below the search query box. Examples include news headlines, stock quotes, weather information and as many as nine incoming Gmail messages, said Marissa Mayer, director of consumer Web products at Google.
The Mountain View, California, company demonstrated the service during a press event at its headquarters. Currently available for preview at Google Labs, the personalized service allows visitors to include information from 12 different feeds on their view of the Google home page.
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Google will add support for a variety of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds to the personalized service within one to two months, Mayer said. Anyone with a free Google Account can set up a page, she said. The service was rolled out as a beta product, similar to how Google News and Gmail were introduced.
"While this is just the first step in what we hope it will become, we believe it is a very compelling offering," Mayer said.
The end result incorporates several different Google services into one spot, a portal model resembling Yahoo or MSN.
Both Mayer and Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt called the personalized service a unique offering from Google that was not done to compete with either of those Web sites.
Mayer's team has been working on developing a more personalized Google Web page for several years and did not launch the product until company executives were convinced they had found the right approach, Schmidt said during a question-and-answer session with Google co-founder and president, technology Sergey Brin.
Still, targeted advertising eventually will become part of the personalized home page, Mayer said.
Google also previewed a new version of Google Earth that incorporates technology from recent acquisition Keyhole . Keyhole developed a desktop application, now known as Google Earth, that lets users search within a database of highly detailed maps and satellite imagery. Google's Web search capabilities will be incorporated into the next version of the product, available in the next few weeks, said John Hanke, general manager of Google Keyhole.
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