Sunday, October 30, 2016

Google has overreached itself with AMP pages

I recently encountered, against my will, Google's latest "improvement" to their search experience, accelerated mobile pages, or AMP.
It was only when creating links for this very blog using my cellphone that I noticed that several of the URLs included a Google URL and an /amp/ term, which looked superfluous to me. The links worked perfectly well when I took out the and the /amp/ terms, so I just edited the links down, and started to find out about amp pages.
AMP is a new variant of HTML markup that produces a simplified, static version of a web page that is designed to load extra quickly on mobile phones. And Google, in its wisdom, has decided that everyone should get that cached version, whether they want it or not. The URL in the address bar is therefore the Google domain with an /amp/ term and then the actual website address. There is what looks like a link to the "real" website in a bar at the top of the page, but all that does is to return us to the Google results page. Personally, I don't want that AMP URL, particularly if I want to share a link, but I don't seem to get a choice in the matter - Google chooses for me.
Some people seem to love AMPs, but clearly many, like me, hate it. Either way, there should at least be a choice, for example a separate link, much like the cached version that is made available on the non-mobile version of Google's results. It's not like web pages take that long to load on modern cellphones anyway, so in reality Google has just made an issue where none really exists.
If you are interested, a bit of research indicates that there is a work-around that seems to work - apparently, if you log out of Google (assuming you are already logged in, for Gmail or Google Calendar purposes or whatever) and then log in again, the AMP links are replaced by regular links in Google's search results, although no-one really seems to know why that should work. You may find you have to re-login from time to time, but it remains a reasonably effective solution.
But, of course, we shouldn't really be having to search for work-arounds. I thought I would let Google know my thoughts on this issue, but of course this is not as easy as it should be. In theory, there us a Send Feedback link on every Google page, but I'm blowed if I can find one, unless it means the generic cellphone feedback link (for example, mine links to a Samsung feedback form), in which case it seems that there is no way to contact Google directly.
Google really is an excellent search engine for most purposes. Hell, sometimes it seems to know what I am asking better than I do! But sometimes they overstep their bounds, and AMP pages are one such example.

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