After a lot of experiments and testing, Google has finally switched to a new top tab layout for the search options. This means it's dropping the left sidebar, which was actually quite a controversial new feature a few years back.
But as Google's search page evolved, it made sense to put the specialized search engines, i.e. images, video as well as the search filters and tools up top. It's also a more intuitive placement for a lot of people.
One big advantage of the new layout, one that Google underlines, is that it's much more flexible. The main search page now fits across a wider range of screen sizes.
It also now matches the mobile and tablet search pages which had already switched to the horizontal tab.
The placement makes a lot more sense on mobile devices than on the desktop, but having a consistent look across screens is important.
It's also important to note that this is the first time a major change has been implemented for mobile devices first and then retrofitted to the desktop version of the site.
"You’ll notice a new simpler, cleaner design on the search results page — we’ve been working on ways to create a consistent search experience across the wide variety of devices and screen sizes people use today," Google announced
"We started with tablets last year, got it to mobile phones a few weeks ago, and are now rolling out to the desktop," it said.
"With the new design, there’s a bit more breathing room, and more focus on the answers you’re looking for, whether from web results or from a feature like the Knowledge Graph," it added.
A side benefit of the new layout is that the results get more space and a bigger focus. The design is cleaner too and there's more room for the Knowledge Graph or whatever Google plans to use that space for in the future.
The new layout is out for US users, i.e. anyone that uses the main Google.com in English, but it will eventually be rolled out to localized search engine in all languages supported by Google.