Right on the heels of the sublime, here's the ridiculous: Google's support for multiple accounts.
First of all, though, don't get me wrong; I worked at Google for years. I left voluntarily, and still consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked there. I'm very lucky to count many current Googlers amongst my friends, and by no means am I irrationally antagonistic towards Google.
This multiple login madness has driven me over the edge, though. It's been on Quora; on Twitter, on Buzz (I lost the link, but the thread included Jeff Huber) and on Google+. Amongst people with whom I work it's inciting fury and despair in equal measure.
Here's a simple reproducible example: let's start off with a fresh new Chrome Incognito Window:
and let's sign in to my work account. Here's my work email.
I'm going to use this "multiple accounts" feature to sign in with my personal account too. First
and, username and password later, boom:
You see those two tabs there? Two perfectly coexisting Gmail tabs. One for work Gmail; one for personal Gmail; they both work. This, ladies and gents, is Google Multiple Accounts.
Thing is, though, I'm about to click a YouTube link in my work Gmail:
which works well enough and opens the YouTube "watch page". Great video! I want to share it…
…but I have to log in…
and BOOM the trapdoor opens and you're in login hell.
First you get this:
and of course you click the only link which is going to take you forward. Or so you think. In fact that link takes you to this:
and I mean DIRECTLY, no login form in sight.
Again, meaning to make forward progress you click "Sign in":
and you're greeted by a welcoming login form:
at which you log in, only to be returned directly to this:
But wait, look above. See the "hepwori" at the top right? I did actually sign in successfully, but got this error page nonetheless.
Already I see the Google guys rolling their eyes and sighing about the YouTube guys. But wait, there's more.
First of all, falling through this trapdoor has caused not just one, but both of my email tabs to log themselves out. Here's the work tab:
So OK, perhaps this is still YouTube's fault? Let me ask you this. At this point let's say I open a new tab with ⌘T. In the Chrome address bar I type "foo" and do a Google search. Which account, if any, has this search added to its Web History?
Of course you've no idea. Nobody does. It's all random. Sign into two Google accounts at the same time and you're opening yourself up to the undefined, and good luck with that. Steer clear in particular of Blogger, YouTube, AdWords and Analytics… but basically your best bet is not expecting any of this stuff to work at all.
Google Apps customers are afflicted daily, and it's maddening. Google's silence on it is a particular shame, and—with due respect to many of my Googler friends with this suggestion—multiple browser instances or profiles aren't the answer. Either support multi-account sign-in in a single browser, or don't.
Sometimes [tabs with multiple logins] all work (ie co-exist) and then, for no reason i can fathom, i get logged out and i spend two days signing in to various accounts to try get back to where i was (ie, multiple accounts happily co-existing)and yes, this is another part of the problem: the sheer fickleness of the system. On my home laptop and work laptop I have the same set of tabs open and yet the behavior is different when logging into additional services.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: grr!