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iGoogle attacked by giant widgets

New "canvas view" for the personal home page lets widgets take over the portal page. In canvas view, Google will not restrict monetization schemes from running.

Google's personalized home page, iGoogle, is getting an update Thursday. Widgets on the page can support a new "canvas view," which expands the widget to the full iGoogle window.

The 16 new or updated widgets that Google is currently promoting support this feature. There are more than 40,000 iGoogle widgets available, iGoogle group product manager Jessica Ewing told me.

iGoogle still displays standard, small widgets, but...

Google will not restrict monetization schemes from running in canvas view. Developers can put whatever they want in the pages. In the smaller "home view," Google does not allow advertising or other direct revenue-generating content.

The new iGoogle also moves user navigation from tabs at the top of the page to a bar down the left side. This enables more pages and elements in the navigation, and I found that it made navigating iGoogle faster, since it provided a de facto table of contents for each page.

iGoogle widgets are written in the Open Social platform, so apps created for social networks should run on the new portal page, and vice versa.

Like many of Google's services, iGoogle is platform-aware. On a mobile phone, like on an iPhone or Android phone, when you log in to iGoogle, you'll get a view of your page suited to the constraints of the device. Ewing wouldn't talk about any plans to create a more capable or fluid application specific to mobile platforms.

iGoogle should be rolled out to all U.S. users by the end of Thursday, Ewing said. At the moment, 15 percent to 20 percent of users are on the new platform.

Competitors include My Yahoo, My MSN, Netvibes, and PageFlakes.

In "canvas view," a widget can take up the entire iGoogle display area.