Google is having a particularly bad week, most of it self-inflicted. Just as some people were beginning to give Google+ a second chance, the company stumbled with an app-launch gone wrong, a dismantling of the share functions on Google Reader and new plug-ins that make users much easier to track.
“Maybe Google isn’t so invincible after all,” the site InfoWorld declared.
A bright spot in that dark week came when a Reddit user stumbled on to one of Google’s “Easter eggs,” or hidden jokes, in their products. When a user types in the phrase “Do a barrel roll” into the Google search bar, the screen will tumble around before your eyes. (In the Post newsroom, this was working only in Google Chrome.) As Mashable writes, “It’s yet another testament to Google’s quirkiness and nerdy demeanor.”
But can one cute joke make up for Google’s string of failures this week? The iOS app Google launched this week had a bug so bad, Google pulled it to fix the problem. It might be for the best, too, considering TechCrunch had just written a searing review, writing “the app is a mess. It’s unusable. It doesn’t even launch properly, displaying an error message upon startup.”
Fans of Google Reader, too, were up in arms at the new redesign, which former Reader lead designer Kevin Fox called a “disaster.” Fox has gone so far as to offer to come back to the company to help Google fix the Reader’s new problems, which he says include a drastic lack of color, and major sharing issues. With the new Reader, users must “+1” an article to share it. All other sharing functions have been removed. As ZDNet points out, beyond the annoyance of being made to use Google+ in order to share something, what happens when you want to recommend a story about pedophilia but don’t want to +1 and sound as if you like it?
Google topped off all the bad news by unveiling two new Chrome and IE browser plug-ins on Thursday, which ReadWriteWeb warns allows Google+ to go “everywhere you go online.” “Three cheers for tracking!!” Atlantic Wire writer Adam Clark Estes wrote sarcastically about the news.
Still, despite the many complaints, the easter eggs may be working their magic. Small tricks started spreading around the Internet Thursday afternoon, so much so that “Go to Google” and “Do a Barrel Roll” started trending worldwide on Twitter, and “askew” started trending in Google search. As The Post’s Michael Cavna wrote, “New definition of ‘Do a barrel roll:’ When Google commands an entire planet to sacrifice countless hours of productivity. (Now, off to go type ‘askew,’ ‘tilt’ and ‘Google gravity.’)”
The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal, hit the nail on the head with his suggestion for the company to regain consumer confidence: