Google continues to eat itself, by feeding more and more of its products into the ever hungry maw of Google+ The latest is their start or home page, iGoogle. For those of you who are not sure what a home or start page is, the page that pops up when you start your browser is your home/start page. It's an often overlooked resource, because it can pull in RSS feeds, link to news feeds, keep you informed about your email and a whole lot else.
My personal favourite, and the one that I teach on courses is Netvibes. It's very stable, has been around for years, provides as many different tabbed pages as you need and also allows you to publish material for other people to see. It's widely used by libraries and universities. However, if you'd like to try some alternatives, here they are:
Allmyfaves. This is a kind of start page, except that you can't yet add anything yourself. It simply lists lots of categories and then lists 10 resources in each listing for you to click on. The interface is jammed with site icons and is overpowering, and not something that I'd like to use myself. You may be different however!
Bonzobox. This is an interactive web tool that allows people to build their own customized "BonzoBox" home page with links to their favorite websites. Click, drag and drop. Nothing especially interesting about this one, and it didn't really have a wow factor for me. As good as many of the others out there.
Favoor. Very basic, but it seems to do the job.
Internet Buttons. If you have a friend or relation who is not too up on using the net, or you wanted to create a really simple home or start page for someone, try this one. Very simple - choose the link, choose the buttons and choose a URL. Point friend/relation to 'their' page and it makes life easier for them.
Kadaza. You can only choose from an admittedly huge list of resources broken down into a wide variety of different options. You can move their position, but that's about it. Not a bad idea if you just want to be presented with a bunch of options, but very limited personalisation.
Nextaris. Your all-in-one toolkit for searching the Web, tracking news, capturing Web content, sharing files, publishing Web blogs, and private messaging.
Pobb. This is an online Tool to create your own unique eHome, with links to your favourite places on the Net and lots more.
Protopage. It's a home/start page. Very basic, but fine if you want to try out the concept.
Schmedley. Lots of options, plenty of widgets that you can move around, you can add new tabs and so on. It does look as though some advertising is forced on you though, which is a shame, and it's one of the reasons that I'll be sticking with Netvibes.
Sitehoover. This is a simple to use home page resource that works using thumbnails for sites that you input yourself. If you register (which you'll need to in order to keep the page you create) you can theme it, import bookmarks from Firefox, use RSS feeds and create public 'hoovers' as well.
Spaaze. This is a cross between a start page, Wallwisher and Glogster resource. Add content, move it around the screen, add in images and video, put in links and so on. They are going to go for a pricing model, which probably isn't that sensible, given the free resources that are overlapping into this territory.
Start. This one looks ok, but a bit clunky to start with. However, you can actually edit the HTML to make it look nicer - if you're ok doing that of course! Supports RSS feeds.
Symbaloo. This is really nice as a start page. Looks a bit noddy, with large block icons, but you can add your own, drag in bookmarks, rearrange things, add tabs and so on. It's not as sophisticated as some resources like Netvibes, but if you want something quick, easy and uncomplicated this has to be in the running.
SymbalooEDU. This is an interesting twist on their existing start page offering, which I've blogged previously. They now have version optimized for teachers, allowing school branding, customised content, webinar training, with a maximum number of of users. It's also free of any advertising.
Tizmos. The thumbnails are quite large, and I can see how this could actually be a nice way of display a bunch of pages that you want to take people to; a nice training aid in effect.
Transferr. This is a customised home page that lets you quickly and easily access your favorite web sites, manage your favourites, and share single or whole groups of your favourites with others. Transferr creates icons of your favourite sites ready for easy access. You can add a favourite site to your hompage by simply typing in the address, or you can import favourites directly from your web browser. Transferr allows you to manage your favourites by colour and by keeping them in tabs.
uStart. This looks very good indeed actually. Same format as Netvibes. Good approach, wide variety of widgets, very neat. Can't see a way of sharing content, which lets it down a bit, but this looks like a good alternative.
Webnavigo is Polish, but it's easy to work out what it's talking about.
Webwag. Looks painfully like Netvibes. Lets you create you create your own content, tags and so on, and will populate a page automatically for you. Looks nice and simple, possibly more attractive than Netvibes itself in fact.
Wonderpage. It's a start page by any other name. However, as the description suggests, it's a very visual resource with a grid of pages.
Woolik. You can resize everything, add in your own backgrounds and move all the widgets around. I didn't see an option to add in your own sites however, just to choose from a pre-selected list.
YourPort. Bringing all your favorite sites together in one place. Why use Yourport as my homepage? Automatically sync to your own bookmarks. No login or sign-up needed. Share your favorite sites with friends. Its Free to us. Very basic, with large button icons.
Zeadoo. Quote from their site: "Zeadoo is your personal homepage for searching, bookmarking and sharing websites with friends. The site is designed for anyone who wants a simple, customizable page that they can access with one click from anywhere in the world."
Zenstart. These people say that they've got 'the best start page', but it doesn't allow you to add your own resources, there's no opportunity for RSS feeds, no widgets - just a series of pre-assigned lists of sites. All you can do is change the position of them within the 6 assigned categories. It's also very American biased. Until they can add more functionality, this is just a listing of sites - and not a very good one either!
I haven't listed Pageflakes, since it had its heyday a long time ago - and it fell into a sharp decline several years back. I personally wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. As for iGoogle itself - the message is perfectly clear - just don't trust Google. With anything really.