Google has replaced that ubiquitous black bar with a Google search bar that more closely matches the gray, red and blue design scheme that has rolled out across so many of its Web properties this year.
Instead of text links to the various Google services across the bar, they now appear in a drop-down menu under the Google logo. The new bar still displays the Google+ notification box and share button. There's also a search box right in the toolbar now, restoring Google's core product to the very top of all its pages. The bar lets you search whatever Google service you're currently using, offering voice search when available.
Though there are some functionality problems with Google's new design on its more involved interfaces, these changes to the nav bar are for the better. The black bar took up space for no reason, and this bar fills that space with a search box to search the contents of whatever Google product you're using.
The drop-down launcher for the Google Web apps requires a click or two more for the most popular services, like Mail, Calendar and Documents, but it's still easier to navigate with the icons. Plus, it's more consistent with other Google products, such as Chrome's New Tab page and the new Google iPad app.