I think I’m an average user of the software services provided by Google. Perhaps I use a bit more than some people, since I upload Youtube videos, but I don’t have an Android phone, so I think that balances it out a little bit. I don’t really want a Gmail address, because I already have an email address (several), but I do have ads on my website and have used Google to run ads for someone else. And, of course, I’m now forced to have a G+ account that I never use, for statistics-jacking purposes. And, I’ve got to say, for being a tech giant, the set of Google systems I’ve used have been surprisingly lackluster.
Now, I’ve used Android devices, and it’s a fine OS, so not everything they create is clunky, but I’ve used a few clunky systems by them, let me tell you. The first is their most prominent: the back end of Youtube. It’s just a mess, unless one is commenting. Then it works well, until the days when that doesn’t work sometimes (for various reasons, like needing a Google+ account). And that was when they were trying to say that the entire library of Google services could be accessed from one account. Not only is that a bad idea that can only lead to compromises (both kinds) in the future, but it shoves a lot of programs and dashboards in the faces of people who don’t want them, (or a damn Google+ account). But it’s also a lie. Yes, in theory I can access all of my Google services through one login, but there is exactly zero integration for this. From Youtube I can get to G+ and AdSense, but there is no way to get back to my Youtube account. I guess I could frantically mash on the back button until I outrun the page reloading and hope my form didn’t expire.
Still, I can understand them not being able to properly link the back ends of their various sites. But since no one I know of was asking for such a thing to be done, it does beg the question as to why it was done in the first place. And why couldn’t Google just wait until they were able to fully integrate their services to launch such a program?
Google tends to do these things now. Quite a while ago they introduced the annotations system on Youtube (was it owned by Google then? I don’t remember), and never updated it to work on mobile devices, which are the main market for Youtube videos now. Since then, they’ve tried to replace it with “cards” which barely function as more than annotations, work completely differently on every possible platform, and replace the Youtube-styled watermarks, making the Youtube watermarking system useless. They did a great job there, if you ask me. They now work like every Google system: vaguely or not at all. I have no idea if I change one setting in one place, how far reaching that change will be, or if it will even do anything.
They’ve made their living and stake in the consumer experience, which is very good. Viewing Youtube always works, even if it isn’t the most pleasant experience. Their search algorithms are great, their ads always show up and work, their email is nice and stores a lot. From what I can tell, Android is responsive, and almost everything loads fast. But they just don’t put that amount of effort into their creator experience. And I’ve taken to not using most of their offerings. The back end of AdSense just confuses me: lots of buttons that don’t go anywhere and two tabs with words that mean the same thing that inexplicably hold different options make it not worth much time. I don’t know how my Youtube Account(s) attach to G+ and since I don’t use G+ I don’t bother learning. Youtube comments are so broken I can’t keep track of the last time they worked, and the differences between the messaging systems just serve to create barriers between people, not facilitate communication. And AdWords is specifically engineered to make stopping your ads a terrible task.
As you can guess I’m not exactly part of the Google fan club, but I don’t hate them. I just wish I could get a more cohesive and well-thought-out experience from them. I’d expect the kinds of broken and untested systems from a startup company, but not from the giant will billions of dollars. I wouldn’t trust their car if they integrated it to any of their other systems as poorly as they do now.
Really, Google has never made that good of a product, as in one that functions and looks nice. It just makes the best search engine and owns the best online video site, and until there is a competitor, they’ll get to make all the mistakes they want.