Google adds themes for personalizing home pages

Google now offers users the ability to add some personality to Google home pages

When Google product manager Jessica Ewing gets a new cell phone, the first thing she does is change its background theme. Adding a beach scene or a dancing pig makes it feel more her own, she wrote in her blog.

Ewing said Google now offers users the ability to add some personality to their Google home pages. But, one problem Google faced was how to let users add personality without making it a distraction from their home page information. Another problem was how to make sure users don't get tired of looking at the same theme every day, she said.

Tuesday Google launched a new feature on the Google Personalized Home service to solve those challenges, Ewing said.

Users now have the option of selecting from six different themes to decorate their personalized homepages. The themes are a beach, a city, a sweet dreams theme, a teahouse, a winter hills theme and a bus stop.

Each of the themes changes dynamically, based on where the user lives. So, for example, if a user adds the beach scene, which changes with the time of day, Google will ask for the user's ZIP code and adjust the scene to correspond to the local sunrise and sunset, according to Google.

Users of the bus stop theme will see on their home page people wearing rain gear and carrying umbrellas if the weather forecast in the user's neighborhood calls for rain. While each theme design is dynamic, it doesn't interfere with the user's ability to read and access information on the page.

To add a theme users must first set up a personalized home page, click the "Select Theme" link on the right-hand side of the page then chose the appropriate topic, Google said.

"We launched the themes feature as an additional tool to enhance user experience with the personalized home page," a Google spokesperson said. "We aim to give users more options to tailor their home page, making it a truly customizable and easy-to-use tool."

Google said it plans to push out additional themes in the future.

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Linda Rosencrance

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