Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where I whine about Google being... well, Google

WTF Google?

I've always liked you. Your search was cool, your products were cool, your company seemed fun. You kept coming out with new sites that seemed more exciting than they probably were because you made them so exclusive. Wave, Buzz, even Google Plus. I actually have long Gtalk chats archived somewhere with friends about how we could get invites to these sites. I ignored, and continue to ignore, all the rumblings about privacy issues and data concerns and whatnot, and just liked the stuff you had.

Case in point: despite knowing Wordpress is probably way better than Blogger, I've stuck to you all these years, haven't I?

But then you became this know-it-all that started taking away the sites and features I actually liked and kept pushing other, annoying features and sites at me.

You took away the likes and the sharing features on Google Reader, you shut down Wave (which, to be fair, I can't blame you for; not enough people saw what fun it could be), you even took away Buzz, which let me share articles with people without having to go anywhere. You started pushing Google Plus everywhere you could, linking it to Youtube (although thankfully, at least there you let me choose and switch between my blogging name and real name. DON'T CHANGE THAT.), trying to get people to share articles there rather than on GReader (fat chance, I say), and even trying to trick me into linking it to my Blogger account. You wanted me to log into Chrome - I still have no idea what that really means - but were okay with me ignoring you over this.

The biggest blow to my heart was when you shut down GReader. I've moved on, I've found another home to keep my gazillion feeds in, even though its not as perfect as GReader was. But there's a part of me that will never forgive you for breaking my heart the way you did over this.

And now, you've messed up Gtalk. Gtalk has been my window to the world for so long. I love how it archived everything within Gmail; for someone who loves to search for and read specific old email conversations, it made finding chats to reminisce over so convenient. If I occasionally had wistful thoughts about the more fun emoticons that MSN Messenger had, I ignored them to focus on how easily accessible Gtalk was and how I could stay invisible and still talk to everyone I wanted to talk to.

But then you brought in Hangouts. For a long time, I managed to ignore the existence of said hangouts. I still used Gtalk from within Gmail, and if the way archived chats looked changed a bit, I wasn't overly bothered. I bought an Android phone, and it let me download Gtalk, so I was happy. It kept asking me to update Gtalk to Hangouts, and for more than a year, I managed to ignore it. Then last week, ignoring the voice in my head advising me against it, I went ahead and did a software update on my phone. Which led to various issues on my phone, chief of which was the appearance of auto correct and the disappearance of my dictionary (both of which I managed to fix eventually, thankfully), and the switch from Gtalk to Hangout.

And today I discover that if I have Hangout on my phone, I can't go into invisible mode - not just on the phone, but even in Gmail on a browser, because I get a nonsensical message saying I'm logged in on a device that doesn't allow invisibility.

So I ask, Google, WTF?

Here's what makes me really curious about you, Google. How exactly do you come up with such bullshitty decisions? Do you do focus groups, or tests, or whatever, and pilot these ideas? Or is it just random dudes sitting in what I hear are really cool cafeterias thinking, how can we totally change things that are working just fine, and make everyone who uses this miserable.

Because most of the people I talk to or follow on social media do have similar opinions - good or bad - to the ones I've expressed here. But then most of the people I talk to or follow on social media also weren't very keen on the BJP winning the elections in India, so what do I know. I clearly don't follow very representative people.

Here's the thing. I know you won't give me back the things you've taken away from me; I once spent an entire networking event with your company complaining to a recruiter about you guys had ruined GReader, and he kept nodding and admitting he thought you guys had messed up there, but that didn't help me, did it?

But seriously, can you just stop? Stop screwing with the products I love so much, and just let me use them.

Just. Stop. Change for the sake of change is just stupid, okay?

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