Google announced an update to its controversial Desktop app today, along with several new online services. The latest beta download, Google Desktop 4, offers shortcuts to the sites and tools you use the most based on its interpretation of your online habits and hard drive contents. You can use your personalized Google Desktop on multiple PCs and also now synchronize Google Gadgets with more than computer.
Privacy critics worry that Google Desktop gets too personal. To use the most advanced features, you must permit Google to track every step you take on your computer. And users slammed the earlier Google Desktop 3 because it crashed so much. I, for one, uninstalled that version after two months of tinkering, because my work PC had become sluggish and froze daily. Sans Google Desktop, my machine was back to normal. We're curious to explore how the version 4 beta will behave; despite the frustrations, we found its predecessor handy at times.
Today, Mountain View also unwrapped Google Trends, which lets you see what's hot on the Web at a given moment. As with tools like BlogPulse, Trends charts the popularity of your search term among other Google users. It also lists regions where people sought the same query.
Due for public consumption next week, Google Notebook is designed to let you save snippets of search results. The new Google Co-Op enables people to tag, share, and customize their searches.