Google has finally brought the Google Toolbar 3 out of Beta for all Firefox users. Yes, you heard me right…Google took a product out of Beta! I guess they do periodically remove services from the Beta stage, but it a rare occasion. I feel like I should bust out the champagne to celebrate.
Before I dive in and start talking about the toolbar I just wanted to briefly bring up what Ashley discussed earlier today with Gmail opening themselves up to the world. Looking at the comments in that article I believe that Google has slowly started to roll out the red carpet to everyone…but is this going to be the point at which Gmail is removed from Beta? It has been several years since Gmail started the invitation process to join their email system, and at that time the invites were selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. I bought my invite when things died down a little bit, but it still costed me $10 (I then turned around to sell my invites for a little over $100 in total ). In the past few months there has been a few bumps in the road (here and here) for Gmail, but I still think it is time for the service to be declassified as Beta. Maybe Google is afraid it will lose some of the appeal if they do that?
Okay, time to get back on topic. We wrote about the Google Toolbar 3 when it was still in the Beta stage and it got some features that have been needed for a long time. The Internet Explorer counterpart has had bookmarking capabilities for probably around a year and finally Firefox users will also be able to take advantage of that. Of course, Firefox users do get a unique feature that allows you to open documents and spreadsheets using the Google Docs & Spreadsheets service. That is a really nice addition for anyone who hates having to wait for their word processor or spreadsheet application to open up just to view the contents of a document.
Like always, your browser will have to be verified by Google to see if your version of Firefox is compatible with the extension, but if you want to bypass that detection process just use this direct link. That points straight to the XPI file which is needed to install the extension, and will be useful if youâ€™re trying to use this on an unsupported version of Firefox. Iâ€™ll forewarn you that I tried to install this version on the Firefox 3 Alpha 2 Release Candidate (the final Alpha 2 should be released today) and it did not work. I couldnâ€™t get it to load up my bookmarks or even perform a search.
Overall, the toolbar is a nice addition to any browser, but it still feels like Google isnâ€™t making it as powerful as it could be. Maybe they should be one of the first companies to branch away from offering only a toolbar and create a Firefox sidebar as well. Sidebars are becoming more and more present on computers because of the extra space that widescreen monitors offer. Nearly all of the tools that I use offer a sidebar and I have found myself migrating to that route because of the large amount of content you can see.
Do you have any other ideas that they can do to make the Toolbar stand out a little more?