Google Says Good-Bye to Black Navigation Bar, Introduces "Google Bar" with Rollover Menu

Just when you were getting used to Google's ubiquitous black navigation bar, Google has decided it's time for the "next stage" of their redesign, which means removing the black bar, pushing up the wide light-gray bar you already have and making your Docs, Calendar, etc. accessible from a rollover menu that appears when you mouse over the Google logo. The idea is that you'll have the same bar in exactly the same place as you navigate from Gmail to Docs to Reader to Maps.

The explanatory video says the black bar takes up precious space on your screen. Yeah, but that gray bar is even fatter, so why is that staying -- and not shrinking?

We first caught a glimpse of the new navigation bar in October, thanks to screen shots from a Hong Kong-based blog, where it revealed that Google ditched the black bar and added a list of Google services in a drop-down menu.

Google introduced the black bar in June when it launched Google+. Since then, Google has been working to make its products more unified across the web. In November, Google Groups, Gmail and Reader all got makeovers, which essentially meant more white space.
The new bar, which is rolling out, is meant to make navigation between Google services easier, and improve sharing on Google+.

"The black bar was such a huge departure from the typical Google look and feel," Senior Digital Strategist at Saatchi & Saatchi X writes on Google+. He then warns his readers that it's "CONSPIRACY THEORY TIME!"

"Looks like Google launched the black Google bar SOLELY to launch Google+ via visual disruption," Kyle writes. "They knew all along it wasn't a great experience and that it detracted from their minimal look and feel. Also, their point that it takes up valuable vertical space is also true. So, now that Google+ has launched and is going to get all of the people that would have been jarred from their typical Google experience to check out Google+, it's time to put everyone back into their comfort zone with plain old white (and gray) Google."

It's interesting that Google ditched the black bar shortly after we brought attention to the fact that the Google+ layout and black bar resembles Diaspora*. 

What do our readers think of the new layout? Discuss below in the comments.