For as long as I can remember, iGoogle has been my home page. I’ve used it for everything from monitoring my favorite blogs and news sites to tracking the number of days since I last added salt to my water softener.
So it came as something of a shock to read that iGoogle is going away on November 1, 2013. That’s only 16 months from now, barely enough time to vet a replacement.
I kid, I kid — that’s more than enough time. The question is, where should you hang your home-page hat? What should be the first thing that appears when you open your browser? I’ve got five suggestions:
MSN or Yahoo
Like to scan news headlines? Then you can’t go wrong with MSN or Yahoo, which bring you the latest stories followed by sections like sports, entertainment, local news, and money.
You don’t need an account with either service to take advantage of their portals, though signing up for one nets you an extra email address and, in the case of Yahoo, some customization options for your home page (including what content appears and where).
Personally, I think Yahoo is the better of the two pages, but you’ll definitely want to browse both to see which one suits you best.
This old-school Web portal has reinvented itself as a Web-analytics tool for businesses, but it still offers a consumer-friendly custom dashboard where you can monitor all the media that’s important to you: news, email, tweets, tasks, status updates, and so on.
Where NetVibes excels is in letting you pick the “apps” (i.e. widgets) you want to include, then organizing them to your liking. For example, you can choose the number of columns you want for your dashboard and how you want them arranged.
There’s also a Reader mode that’s great if you add a lot of RSS feeds. All told, NetVibes probably comes closest to replacing the look and feel of iGoogle.
If your browser favorites list hooked up with StumbleUpon, the result would look a lot like All My Faves.
The site is essentially a massive collection of other sites, all represented by thumbnail icons of their logos. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but there’s an interesting portal beneath all the noise.
Indeed, once you sign up for an account, you get to create your own batch of “faves” you can use to quickly jump to your favorite pages. You also get to choose up to seven areas of interest (cooking, movies, tech, etc.) that AMF will use to generate batches of sites you might like.
After you finish the setup, you’ll see a much less intimidating tabbed display of your favorites and your areas of interest. And thanks to the AMF bookmarklet, it’s a simple matter to add sites to your start page.
I’m not sure All My Faves is really my cup of tea, but if you want a favorites-oriented home page with lots of personalization options, this service is worth a look.
A little bit NetVibes, a little bit iGoogle, Protopage offers a simple, attractive, customizable home page you can stock with news, comics, Twitter feeds, email, podcasts, and more.
The site starts you out with a wide assortment of popular widgets, everything from Dilbert to Engadget to PC World. You can drag and drop these to create just the layout you want, while clicking Add Widgets lets you choose from a huge selection of additional tools and content.
Protopage really reminds me of the portals of old. If you’re already mourning iGoogle, this should help ease the pain.
Nothing? If you’re not a news junkie and don’t tend to look at RSS feeds and the like, you might just prefer to leave your browser without a traditional home page.
To that end, all the major browsers now have the option of starting you with a “blank” tab, one that doesn’t open a particular page but does show thumbnails of your most visited/most popular sites.
You can also automatically open multiple sites in multiple tabs, which is helpful if you like to start each browsing session with, say, ELITES WORLD OF TECHNOLOGY, Facebook, and a favorite blog. Just open the tabs you want to reappear, then venture into the settings and choose “use current” for your home page. (The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer all let you load multiple pages at startup.)
Those are, of course, just five options out of many. If you’ve found another portal, home-page, or browser-startup option you like better, tell me about it in the comments.