Why Does Google Suck? Annoying Product Issues They Never Fix
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Do you ever find yourself asking, “Why does Google suck?”

I’m a Google fanboy, but man, sometimes I get frustrated with some of their design choices. I can’t help but think that maybe, in a lot of ways, Google does suck.

Between their search engine, Gmail, Drive apps, and everything else, Google has more users than any company in history. So why aren’t they focusing more on aesthetic and more functional apps?

Maybe because they don’t have to. Maybe we all just put up with it when we shouldn’t. Well, today we’re going to explore two things:

  1. We will go through Google’s many product offerings.
  2. We will discuss the biggest ways in which they fall far short of their full potential.

Google Search

The flagship product of the Google brand is Google Search. It’s also one of the biggest motivators for people to think that Google sucks sometimes.

Remember, once you sign into Google Search, the company knows every detail about your search patterns, what you click on, and everything else about your online behavior.

The search engine is a virtual wonderland for Federal agents looking to get information about someone’s interests and activities.

issues with google products - google search

I mean, okay, maybe you shouldn’t be searching for stupid things like how to become a terrorist. But before you start using Google for activities you wouldn’t want your mom or dad hearing about, consider the following quote from Google’s Privacy page:

“We collect information about the services that you use and how you use them, like when you watch a video on YouTube, visit a website that uses our advertising services, or view and interact with our ads and content.”

Google Search isn’t DuckDuckGo Why This Longtime Google Fan Now Prefers DuckDuckGo Why This Longtime Google Fan Now Prefers DuckDuckGo Most of us don't remember life before Google search. Try DuckDuckGo. Learn its tricks. There could be nothing you miss about Google. Read More , so user privacy still isn’t a major concern for them. After all, they make money from what they know about you.

This isn’t the primary reason Google Search sucks. The biggest reason is the company has lost sight of its roots and why people even started using the internet in the first place. The search engine continues to tweak its search algorithm to benefit larger companies and to make Google more revenue. They publicly claim the goal is to provide you, the user, with better and more valuable information for the things you’re searching for.

But most search results betray this dubious claim.

For example, when I search for something like “how to start a blog”, you’d expect to see informative articles that step you through the process of starting your own blog. This is what would serve you, the user, best. Instead, you get four listings from sites that were willing to pay Google the most for the privilege of being listed first in search results.

issues with google products - google search

Finally, you get a Google snippet from a blog that’s an affiliate partner for Bluehost, a web hosting company that seeks to make money off of your desire to start a blog.

Is it the best source of information? It’s decent. It runs through a quick series of steps (without any screenshots or examples) on the basics, and then a bunch of fluff toward the bottom about reasons not to start a blog and some rambling recommendations like “be yourself” or “be original”. The kind of stuff we used to see from content mills all the time years ago.

It also finishes off reminding you that Bluehost offers a special discount for readers. Great, thanks. But where’s the real value, Google?

We recently reported that Google is trying to improve search results Google Search Buries Bad News Google Search Buries Bad News Google is making some serious changes to Search. The main aim is to bury the bad results from bogus sources, promoting accurate results from authoritative sources. Which sounds fantastic, if it's possible. Read More by getting rid of “fake news.” This appears to mean that they are simply bolstering web results from large companies and corporate sponsors that buy ad space.

Google launched in 1998. In the intervening two decades, we’ve seen the greatest technological advancements with things like iPhones getting voice recognition and fingerprint security, we’ve seen the birth and growth of major social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and we’ve gained the ability to carry around information on a tiny stick that would have required a computer the size of a suitcase.

Yet, Google still only offers us this as a user interface:

issues with google products - google search

I mean, seriously?

Oh, well we did at least get a cute little microphone How to Listen to Every Google Voice Search You've Made How to Listen to Every Google Voice Search You've Made You probably know that Google keeps a record of your searches, but did you know that it's possible to listen to every "Okay, Google" voice search you've made? Read More , and some nifty advanced search commands 11 Advanced Searches to Bookmark to Become a Google Power User 11 Advanced Searches to Bookmark to Become a Google Power User Turn yourself into a true Google power user with these 11 advanced searches and pro tips. This will make sure you never have to recall these searches and yet will always have them at your fingertips. Read More . I guess that’s something.

Gmail

I’ve been a huge fan of Gmail for years now. Our in-depth Gmail guide The Beginner's Guide to Gmail The Beginner's Guide to Gmail You may already have a Gmail account. Or, you're thinking about signing up for one. This guide has everything you need to make the most of that shiny new Gmail account. Read More provides plenty of examples of just how functional and integrated with everything this email service is. You can access Gmail from your phone, from nearly any automation service like IFTTT Enhance Your Gmail Experience With These 9 Great IFTTT Applets Enhance Your Gmail Experience With These 9 Great IFTTT Applets Gmail and IFTTT combine to give you the most productive email experience ever. Read More or Zapier, and even via scripting commands How to Send Email in a Google Sheet With Google Scripts How to Send Email in a Google Sheet With Google Scripts Learn how to use Google Scripts to automate Google productivity tools like Sheets and Docs and save yourself hours of time. Read More .

But why, for the love of God, haven’t they upgraded that atrocious user interface?

issues with google products - gmail

Sure, you can try to pretty up the boring all-white interface by choosing from the limited set of weird background images they offer (Sandy shows how to do this in our Gmail power user guide The Power User Guide to Gmail The Power User Guide to Gmail This free Gmail Guide is for those of you who already use Gmail as an email client and want to take maximum advantage of its many productivity features. Read More ). You can also try to install add-ons like Baydin (formerly Boomerang) Schedule Your Messages Inside Gmail With Boomerang Schedule Your Messages Inside Gmail With Boomerang Baydin (the company behind Boomerang) has just announced that users can reschedule messages inside Gmail once they have already been scheduled. Read More to boost the number of interface features. But it’s like trying to spray Febreeze on top of a mess your dog made on the kitchen floor without bothering to clean it up first.

The Gmail interface needs to be cleaned up. It needs to have more add-in widgets that look like something from 2018 and not from 1998. The ability to create tabs for things like promotions and social alerts is nice, but way too little too late.

As a side note, and to Google’s benefit, they have offered a product called Google Inbox.

issues with google products - gmail

Which at least gives you a user interface that looks modern, clean, and something you can look at without getting nauseous.

Google Drive

Of all Google products, I think Google Drive is the one that is the most useful. It’s a cloud storage location where you can generate documents 10 Neat Ways to Create Beautiful Google Documents 10 Neat Ways to Create Beautiful Google Documents Turn your Google office suite into a word-processing powerhouse with the right Google Drive add-on. Here's some of that power to make your documents look stylish and beautiful. Read More , spreadsheets, and even presentations Yes, You Can Auto-Loop Google Slides Presentations Yes, You Can Auto-Loop Google Slides Presentations Google Slides is a great for creating slideshows, but the option to loop presentations isn't easy to find. Here's how to enable it. Read More . And you can access all of that from your phone, your browser, or even mounted as a drive How to Access Google Drive Files Offline How to Access Google Drive Files Offline Read More right on your own computer.

As usual, where Google has failed here isn’t the integration with so many other services, it’s the user interface.

issues with google products - google drive

In most applications I’ve seen in both my professional career and as a regular user, the color gray has almost always been used to denote an object that is disabled or inactive. Yet, for some reason, the brilliant application designers at Google decided to make the default color for all folders in Google Drive… gray.

Many users may never even notice this, but as an application developer, it’s been a pet peeve.

And if it bothers you as much as it bothers me, you can indeed change the folder color if you like.

issues with google products - google drive

Another failure of Google Drive is how easy it is to lose things. Moving documents or sheets used to require right-clicking and selecting Move to and then the folder.

issues with google products - google drive

Thankfully, Google finally added the ability to drag and drop in 2016. This is years after everyone else had already figured out how to implement that feature.

However, there’s one area where Google Drive still falls short, and that’s when you create a new object.

issues with google products - google drive

When you add a new document or sheet, instead of asking you what folder you’d like to put it in, Google assumes you want to drop it in the folder you’re presently in. It immediately opens up that object.

Hopefully, you’ve remembered what folder you opened it from because if you don’t and you decide to close your browser window or tab, you’ll have to make use of the search bar to try and find that newly created object. It isn’t a terrible flaw (not like the gray folders), but it is annoying.

Google Plus

Oh, Google Plus… you’re like Google Wave’s little brother who we had so much hope for even though your big brother was such a dismal failure.

Google Plus was launched on June 28th, 2011, and very little has changed with it since then. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)

issues with google products - google plus

It’s like Pinterest married Facebook and had a baby. The result is a confusing collection of posts streamed side-by-side with conversations tacked underneath them.

The entire design doesn’t feel intuitive, and it isn’t as enjoyable spending time there as it is on other social networks.

The problem is that a large portion of people who signed up with Google Plus were doing so under duress. There were rumors floating around that to rank well in search you needed to have a Google Plus account. That isn’t the kind of thing that builds an active and organic social network. It’s just a bunch of people being extorted into signing up for something they don’t intend to use.

Google Keep

Most of the time when I try a new app, it takes a few days to adjust to the interface. In time, my opinion changes. I either grow to love it or hate it. With Google Keep, my opinion never changed. I hated it the moment I tried it, and I can’t stand it today.

It’s Google’s attempt to combine something like Notepad and sticky notes into an application that lets you keep and access quick notes. You can write and access them from your phone or your computer. I tried using it for a while since Google Play has such limited offerings when it comes to decent notepad-like apps for Android. But what I ended up with in less than a week is a random collection of scribbled notes.

issues with google products - google keep

The problems with this app are many. The first is organization. Most journal type applications like this usually have a hierarchical structure to organize notes. These will go from folder or “journal” to a listing style display of all notes, which you can click on to actually see the full note itself.

Evernote is an example of a perfect implementation. It has developed one of the best web-based and mobile-based note-taking applications out there.

evernote versus google keep

As you can see, the flow is more logical. It’s left to right. You can click on a specific notebook that contains all the notes. This opens up the listing of notes you see above, where you only see the beginning snippet of the note under the title. If you click on one of those, then you see the entire note.

Unfortunately, the extent of Google Keep’s “organization” is tagging. If you try to switch to “list” view, Keep will simply line up all notes in their entirety one underneath the other. It’s like a note-taking app designed by someone who threw something together for a programming assignment in high school.

Google Voice

Google Voice was launched on March 11, 2009. It was a breakthrough technology I was delighted about. Finally, Google was ready to take on overpriced landline companies. I was so confident of this, in fact, that I immediately signed up for my Google Voice phone number, and have been using it since.

issues with google products - google voice

I use Google Voice now for all web-based contacts from anyone visiting my websites. It’s beautiful. You can have your Google Voice calls routed to your mobile phone, but those people never need to know your actual mobile phone number.

But like most of my constructive criticism to Google in this article, what Google Voice possesses in functionality, it lacks in the user interface. As far back as I can recall I don’t think the interface has changed very much since I first signed up in 2010. Here is what that “legacy” user interface looked like.

issues with google products - google voice

Other than shifting things around the page and making you click a couple of extra times to see the text conversion of the voicemail, nothing has changed in the eight years since launch.

My Dad always said, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” Yes, Google Voice is free, but… well, I’m still complaining because it’s technology. And anyone creating technology should keep up with the times. I’m talking to you, Google.

Google Doesn’t Always Suck

I’m going to back-pedal a little bit here. I mean, I like my search standings. And once Google even shared one of my Google Analytics articles Become A Google Analytics Filtering Ninja With These Helpful Tips Become A Google Analytics Filtering Ninja With These Helpful Tips Google Analytics remains the single most popular -- and yes, the most powerful -- tool at your disposal to get the whole story about your website. Get creative and dig deep into your traffic data. Read More on their own Twitter account. It’s a relationship that I’d like to foster and keep positive. Honest.

This article is constructive feedback. To its credit, Google as a company has done many more great things than the failures listed above. Some of the most successful products they’ve produced — products with a brilliant interface as well as immense functionality — include Google Sheets 5 Google Sheets Settings Essential for Teamwork 5 Google Sheets Settings Essential for Teamwork Google Sheets has more features to support collective data input and processing than you may think. We'll introduce you to Google Sheets functions and features that are essential for group projects. Read More , Google Docs Google Doc's Voice Typing: A Secret Weapon for Productivity Google Doc's Voice Typing: A Secret Weapon for Productivity Learn everything you need to know about voice dictation and voice control in Google Docs, including how to get started and a few essential tips for productivity. Read More , Android Auto What Is Android Auto And How Can You Get It? What Is Android Auto And How Can You Get It? Android Auto generated a lot of buzz at CES this year, but what exactly is it and how can you get your hands on it? Let's examine it. Read More , Google Play Movies & TV How to Watch Google Play Movies on Apple TV How to Watch Google Play Movies on Apple TV If you've purchased movies from YouTube or Google Play Movies and want to watch them on your Apple TV, don't despair. Here are two methods that make this easy. Read More , Waze Waze Now Offers Hands-Free Navigation for Drivers Waze Now Offers Hands-Free Navigation for Drivers Waze has added three oft-requested features to its Android and iOS apps. This is reason enough to give Waze another try. Read More , and even Google Sites (the new design interface).

With a company the size of Google, you’re not always going to get everything right. Some teams succeed and produce amazing stuff, and other teams end up building an abortion of an app. That’s just the way it goes. You can’t win them all. Even Google.

Do you disagree with any of the feedback in this article? Which quirks within Google products still drive you up the wall? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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  1. You don't need to know
    August 8, 2018 at 6:28 am

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, MUO sticks all these links in this article that link to other MUO articles that I really couldn't give a f**k about, interrupting the flow of the article and making the whole thing a PITA to read. Just Sayin...

  2. You don't need to know
    August 8, 2018 at 6:27 am

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, MUO sticks all these links in this article that link to other MUO articles, interrupting the flow of the article and making the whole thing a PITA to read. Just Sayin...

  3. HolyDamn
    May 10, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Patent war,
    The bigger flesh, the more delicious an.
    Rely on third party applications, like microsoft window. Case closed. Everybody's happy. Try Automate, don't rely on google, then you will thank god there is something call Android!

  4. Katie Donovan
    March 6, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Regarding Google Drive, you left out the most annoying thing of all.
    It is in fact SO annoying that I stopped using Google Drive altogether for most things years ago, and they still have not fixed this problem:
    You cannot sort objects by size.
    They do this to make it virtually impossible to effectively manage your space, so you'll just cave and buy more space from them.
    It's cheap, dirty, low-down and under-handed of them.
    Add to that, that whenever you want to U/L TO Google Drive, those speeds are typically FASTER than downloading.
    I waited forty minutes for ONE PICTURE; a .jpg, to D/L just yesterday.
    This is no accident.
    Google are is a money-grubbing outfit, these days.
    Liars and thieves. Don't trust them with your data.

  5. TheRicker
    February 13, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    My personal belief is that while these offerings while once good are ultimately created to mine your information. It was a long term plan from the start. I cannot iterate how frustrating google has become. From stripped down curated news you do not want but that google thinks you want to fake trending content, AMP and ads in your mail and we're all embedded deep in to it now so it's hard to leave.

  6. Carson
    February 2, 2018 at 8:28 am

    I think you forgot Youtube. There are a lot of problems with Youtube since Google acquired it. For example: the comments section, they never cared about the toxic comments since the Google+ era that ruined Youtube.

  7. Sam Jones
    January 25, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    First up I do think all articles like this should be prefaced with all these things Google provide us for "free". Please note the judicious use of inverted commas.

    My biggest gripe is the total inability for Gsuite accounts and Google accounts to have parity. As an early adopter as many fan boys I embraced my own domain through Google with little thought as to the nightmares it would cause. The somewhat arbitrary issues such as calendar not working on Google Home or issues with interacting with Family accounts. It's annoying issue and has workarounds but that's my gripe.

  8. Andrew Hawkins
    January 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I can't understand why Google Docs doesn't have tags (or labels as Google calls them elsewhere to be different than everybody else).

  9. Dr Curt 'Mex' Nicol D.D. Ph.D.
    January 24, 2018 at 9:33 am

    My biggest problem with Google is they are *FAR* more interested in virtue signalling than creating/fixing tech. I used to be a huge Google fanboy, but with each passing day, I grow to dislike them more and more.
    One of my deepest annoyances with them is that they frequently just get bored of something really useful and kill it, and to hell with anybody depending on it. The most famous is probably Reader, but some others I used a lot are: Google Health, Google Schemer, App Inventor, etc, etc
    Another annoyance is with the core product of the company. If I type something into Google, *THAT* is what I want to search for, not a plethora of unrelated things that Google thinks is more fun. I know how to create a boolean search string, why does Google no longer let you use them? I know I can turn on verbatim, but I have to do this for every single search (they removed the option to have this on by default). And as far as I know, there is no way to turn on verbatim searches on mobile devices either.
    In YouTube, they want you to rate, comment, and interact with videos, yet in playlists, there is no option to turn off autoplay (something else they removed), so now you are forced to interact before the video finishes, or completely miss it as the next listed video starts. I'd rather comment on something after I have watched in its entirety and considered it, rather than furiously typing something out after thirty seconds of the video in the hope the comment is made redundant by something towards the end of the video.
    Most of the time, I'm just asking for a switchable option that would allow me to choose how things work, rather than being forced to do everything the way some faceless cubicle drone who doesn't know me, my wants, and needs decides things should be done. What makes it even more annoying is most of the features/settings/whatever I'd like to see, actually were once there, but Google in its infinite wisdom decided to kill those things off.
    I could continue, but as probably nobody has even got this far I'll just stop here LOL

  10. Gerry
    January 24, 2018 at 2:59 am

    Most of this article is just one dude's gripes about things that other people might have no problem with at all, or even consider features rather than bugs. For example, the notion that "Google Keep’s “organization” is tagging". Well, yeah, and when Gmail first appeared, one of its incredibly useful features was that it abandoned the file cabinet metaphor for what was essentially tagging, although it allowed you to keep a hierarchical file structure if you just couldn't bring yourself to abandon keeping things in designated folders and then try to remember which folder you put something in. If you forgot, you could search through them all. Or, with the tagging system, you could just type in a word or phrase you knew must be contained in the email you were looking for, or its author, and there it was. Oh, but where's my nice neat organization? Nowhere, which is where it should be. The point is to be able to find what you're looking for, not to fuel your neat-freakism. But again, if you want to be a neat freak, you can make folders. So you can be efficient or a neat freak, it's up to you. I applaud that. It doesn't suck. You know what does? Clickbait.

    • Ryan Dube
      January 24, 2018 at 4:46 am

      Thanks Gerry. As always I appreciate your opinion about my opinions!

    • Hope Liz Moerawn
      June 5, 2018 at 2:13 am

      Brilliant! Do you live under a bridge?

  11. Gordon
    January 23, 2018 at 11:05 pm

    I find it extremely extremely annoying that google always shows links that do not contain my search words. This drives me crazy.

  12. Zoran
    January 23, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    I like Search, Maps (Street View is GREAT thing) and Gmail, even Gmail's GUI is fine for me.

    What I hate most about Google is the fact that they have killed that minimalist Google Talk (.exe) for Windows. That was my favorite program :( Also, I am little sad they have destroyed Google Desktop Search :(

    I don't use Chrome, but I like Android...

    • Ryan Dube
      January 23, 2018 at 7:43 pm

      Oh that's right! I remember Google talk -- loved how simple and convenient it was for quick IM convos.

      Yeah I don't mind Gmail's GUI terribly, but it would be wonderful to log in one day and just discovered this nice, shiny new interface. :-)