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Google tests broader bookmarking service called Stars

Browser bookmarks are no longer so central to using the Web, but Google looks interested in freshening up the idea and extending beyond Web pages.

Google Stars, as shown in testing material spotted by Florian Kiersch, has features for searching bookmarks, organizing them into folders by dragging and dropping, protecting against sites that become infected with malware, automatic sorting based on filtering rules, and sharing with contacts.
Google Stars icons, as shown in testing material spotted by Florian Kiersch. Florian Kiersch

Google lets people click a star icon to flag interest in particular Gmail messages, Chrome bookmarks, Android address book contacts, and Google Apps documents. Now it looks like the company is testing a service called Stars that could centralize the idea.

Google+ user and Google watcher Florian Kiersch has spotted graphics, code snippets, and other tidbits about Google Stars since April. On Monday, he posted a Google Stars video showing how some of the service could work, based on access to Google's "dogfooding" test framework.

"Use the star in the address bar to save anything across the Web," the interface said. People can organize starred elements through a folder interface and can set up rules to automatically organize them, it said.

The effort appears to be aimed at refreshing the idea of browser bookmarks -- once a central part of using the Web, but one that's been partly replaced by fast, effective Internet searching and by more sophisticated address management within browsers. But it could extend well beyond just Web pages, too, to personalize and organize other types of data people store through Google and Android.

Google Stars presents starred items in a grid of thumbnails and lets people search them, according to the materials shown thus far. It'll hide away Web pages that have vanished or been infected with spam. And -- as is de rigeur these days on the Net -- people will be able to share them with their contacts.

It's not clear exactly how far, if at all, Google's plans for Stars extend beyond browser bookmarks -- or indeed what Google's exact plans are for the service at all. CNET contacted the company for comment and will update this post with any response.

Google's introduction to Stars, shown to testers
Google's introduction to Stars, shown to testers. Florian Kiersch

Bookmarks remain a fixture in browsers, letting people save sites they want to revisit. However, with browsers remembering browsing history and autocompleting Web addresses that people start typing, old-style bookmark management systems have become something of a dusty corner of a browser interface.

Perhaps the biggest reason for bookmark obsolescence, though, is search engines. Sure, you go the effort of trying to find that saved bookmark for tax forms, your router's tech support site, or your favorite recipe for stuffed artichokes. But often, people just search the Internet to find it, not their own bookmarks.

With Stars and the Google+-based personalization system, Google presumably could blend starred bookmarks into results from a full Internet search. And if Stars extends to contacts, Gmail, and other personally starred content, it could help provide a graceful way to blend all manner of important personal information into search results.

(Via The Next Web)