Remember when the top link bar featuring Google Apps would slowly fade in upon mouse movement on Google's search page? Well, it occurred to me that it has gone MIA for the past few weeks (and possibly more). This morning, I tried to track down the fade out departure of the not so popular feature. As now customary with Google, when a product goes down, it does go quietly.
When Google introduced the fade in effect on its official blog, it referred to it as an "elegant solution that provides options to those who want them." The company went on to acknowledge that the feature slowed down the search process by milliseconds, and this seemed contradictory to its mission of getting users to content as fast as possible. The rationale was that they wanted users to notice the change, and the fade-in seemed to achieve this effect. In case you forgot how it looked, see below:
A quick search of "Google Fade In" reveals many forum posts filled with outrage about the new feature. Many users demanded the feature removed immediately, and some claimed that they would jump ship to another search engine if the fade in continued. Resourceful enthusiasts produced copy/paste codes, a Firefox Add-on, and within just one week of its official release, there were solutions available to disable the fade in effect for nearly any web browser.
I'm not sure when I first noticed the disappearance of the fade-in. Perhaps, I was distracted by the introduction of Instant Search (nice decoy, Google), or it's possible that I just use the web address/search box in Chrome so much now that I rarely have a need for the Google Search homepage. However, I found little news online about the removal of the feature. A lonely Google Support forum post and a few comments on YouTube are what I dug up in a few minutes, but it appears that the fade in was removed about one month ago (early November 2010). I can't say I miss it, though it may have been an interesting experiment in design. May it join the ranks of Wave and other Google Products of the past.