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Google shows updates to iGoogle and other services at Analyst Day

The Internet giant shows analysts updates to iGoogle, Gmail and other products at Google Analyst Day.

Update 12:15 PT

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--At its Analyst Day here Wednesday, Google talked up updates to the set-up for its popular iGoogle personal home page.

But so far there's no comment on word that Microsoft has beat out Google for a deal with Facebook or any new information about the much-anticipated .

With the iGoogle changes, people now can create their own home page quickly by checking off category boxes for news and other modules, and selecting a background theme (say, beach) that changes dynamically to match the local time of day.

Google workers
Just another day at the Googleplex. Google

People can create their own tab categories, and the module will be populated with items that are popular with other people who have created the same tabs.

For instance, Google has launched a new Finance tab on iGoogle that can sync up with other modules on the page. For instance, typing in the stock ticker for Google--"GOOG"--will automatically change the modules on the page to include Google-relevant information such as stock price, charts, company overview, related companies and sector information.

"Is this a portal?" asked Jessica Ewing, who works on the iGoogle team. She then answered her own question: Portals are walled gardens that lock users into proprietary content. With iGoogle, customers can get information from more than 200,000 feeds and 20,000 gadgets; information from all sorts of sources, such as Yahoo Mail, she said. This open philosophy has made it one of the company's fastest-growing products, she added.

Google also on Wednesday launched free IMAP support for all of Gmail so that people can access their e-mail through Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and other clients.

Jonathan Rosenberg, senior vice president of project management at Google, said the company was committed to what Chief Executive Eric Schmidt has dubbed "the Google holy trinity of search, ads and apps."

In discussing the company's strategy for product development, Rosenberg said co-founder Sergey Brin has adopted a new mantra he calls "features and not products" that are designed to show "incremental functionality in the context of a larger Google experience."

Engineers showed analysts demonstrations of products like Universal Search (which will include additional types of content in the main search results in the future), Google Docs, Google Maps and a YouTube feature called "YouTube Streams," through which people can create a TV-like experience for discovering and sharing videos.