Humans are creatures of habit, so when something you use daily changes, it throws everything off. That’s what’s happening right now, which is why I’m not a fan of the new Google Search bar menu buttons.
Over the last week or so, you may have noticed a drastic change to the “All, Shopping, News, Images, Videos, More” shortcut buttons under the search bar after you Google something. Or, maybe you noticed they’re missing entirely. Instead of the options we’ve all enjoyed for years, it looks like Google is A/B testing a big visual overhaul, and it’s a convoluted mess.
Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that not everyone will see these changes right now. Some of the staff here at Review Geek have the new layout, and others don’t. And some of us only see it on specific browsers. On my work phone, the buttons are missing entirely. That said, here’s why they’re awful.
Instead of the search bar menu options we’re all familiar with (pictured above), it looks like Google is now trying to predict what should surface based on your search. Now, we’re getting a new interface and options to add to the search instead of the old “Images, News, Video” menu. And a lot of these new buttons make no sense.
To be fair, the old scheme was already a bit frustrating because the buttons weren’t always in the same place for every search. This change takes things to an entirely new level, and you never know what you’ll get or where it’ll be.
For example, when I search for “smartphones,” the old results would show all the menu buttons to quickly shop or look at images. Starting today, we’re seeing little buttons with a + sign to add words like “Samsung” or “under 10000” to my search—basically suggesting I search for “Samsung smartphones” or “smartphones under 10000” instead.
When I tap the + button to add “under 10000,” it instantly does a new Google search for “smartphones under 10000 India Rupees,” yet I live in the United States, which should be USD.
Or, if I search for e-bikes, I get wild results that make no sense. The “images” shortcut to quickly see images of e-bikes is nowhere to be found, and I have to scroll over twice before the images button appears. The new user interface makes you have to click “>” multiple times to check out images or videos.
There’s a bunch of jibberish in the way, brands I’ve never heard of, and an arrow to scroll over for more options. Tap that, and you get more randomness. And when I tap the scroll arrow a second time, the image shortcut finally appears. What is happening, Google? Why?
We’re also seeing the same odd change on mobile search results, which is equally frustrating. Google displays fewer shortcut buttons on mobile, making you scroll even further to find familiar buttons like images or videos. Instead of six buttons, we now have three and a half.
With this new system, if I want to search for smartphones and then tap the images shortcut to see photos, I have to scroll over three times and pass the new + buttons to add Samsung, Under 10000, unlocked, cheap, new, small, etc., to eventually get the “images” shortcut.
Searching a state like California will populate buttons for the DMV, beaches, lottery, the state flag, the bar exam, and all sorts of nonsense. For whatever reason, Google mostly hides the button shortcut to images and video.
It’s a small change that affects how I use and interact with Google search results every day. I’m not a fan, and I’m not the only one that hates it. We just want the images and video tabs to be where they always are. Is that so hard?
Furthermore, all those search tools to show results from the newest first, within the last 24 hours, or new sites have disappeared.
For now, it looks like Google is A/B testing this new design and layout with select users. By that, we mean that not everyone will see these changes right now. Could this become the standard design in the future? Who knows. What we do know is that Google is actively testing this on a lot of people, for better or worse.
At Google IO 2022, the company confirmed some changes were coming to make Search more helpful, but I didn’t realize it would change the look and feel of things.
To be fair, I can see how adding some of these shortcut buttons to a search request could be helpful. Instead, they’re all mixed in, out of place, and don’t match my region or currency.
Mixing in the familiar “News, Images, Videos, Shopping, and Maps” in with several other random buttons, with no specific order—and changing that order every single search—is just awful. Nothing about this latest change is user-friendly or intuitive.
So what now? Well, we’re not sure. Users will have to wait for Google to change it, make an announcement, or make this the new default interface. We have noticed that you can revert back to the old style by signing out of your Google account.
Are you seeing this new Google Search interface?