Google's fade-in homepage confuses

Google homepage tweaks have become common, but the latest has some folks scratching their heads.

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It's no bar code logo, but Google's latest home page experiment has some searching for an explanation.

The search giant has always been a fan of minimalist design, but its latest trick – a google.com that loads with simply a white page, the familiar colorful logo, and a search box – takes things a step further.

The "bucket testing," visible only to select groups of Google users (and even to select browsers – this blogger sees it on one but not another, on the same machine) has been going on since early this month.

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A few variations have been seen, including a completely blank version that TechCrunch first wrote about in early October, and a more recent one that, laughably, includes the line "This space intentionally left blank."(Were people really that confused? Were they getting to the page and leaving without searching?)

The version we've seen most recently opens with the sparse logo and search box, with "Press enter to search" below.

The fading-in treatment is just one of many homepage treats Google has had in store for its users recently. October 8 saw the familiar Google logo replaced with a bar code to commemorate the anniversary of the first patent on one. Before that, the site paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi on what would have been the spiritual leader's 140th birthday. And in September, in a nod to HG Wells' birthday, Google featured a series of cryptic UFO-themed images that had many on the Web – including your Horizons bloggers – guessing.

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