Monday, 01 October 2012 12:37

Another round of service closures at Google

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Google has revealed the latest chapter in its ongoing crusade to simplify aspects of its services. And some Picasa or Google Drive users may find themselves with a little less storage than they expected.

Over the course of 2012, Google has shuttered - or at least announced the impending closure of - a wide range of features, services and products.

Examples include Google Sync for BlackBerry and Picasa Web Albums for iPhoto in April, and Google Video and the Google Mini search appliance in July.

The latest chapter means almost 60 features or products have been retrenched in less than six months.

Some of the changes announced at the end of September are minor. For example, the functionality provided by most Spreadsheet Gadgets has been moved into Google Apps itself, and so the company will start turning off the Gadgets feature in 2013.

Similarly, Insights for Search has been merged into Google Trends, although Trends for Websites is being dropped.

And standalone +1 Reports are being dropped from Webmaster Tools on the basis that Social Reports in Google Analytics can deliver this information along with other social activity.

While it makes a lot of sense to combine Picasa storage with Google Drive, the company is using sleight of hand to reduce the total amount of storage users get whether they are free or paying customers.

Whereas Picasa previously offered 1GB of free space and Google Drive 5GB, the combined pool will only be 5GB.

And instead of paid storage being incremental (eg, 100GB paid plus 5GB free gives 105GB total), the paid plans now include the basic allocation: if you pay for 100GB, that's all you get.

One good thing about the way Google is handling this change is that users who are already close to their limits will keep their current amount of storage when the change is implemented during the next few months.

Services that are being completely axed in this round are AdSense for Feeds (existing feeds will still work, they just won't contain ads), Classic Plus (the ability to upload or select a picture as a background for google.com), Google News Badges, and the Places Directory Android app and its associated site.

Closure dates for the affected services can be found here.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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