In June 2014, Google quietly rolled out a private, invitation-only beta of Google Domains, the company's new venture into becoming a domain registrar, in direct competition with GoDaddy, Moniker, and others. I received an invite to the closed beta, which I accepted. Here's my review of Google Domains.
An example transfer
Transferring a domain to Google Domains is a straightforward process. The user control panel is fast and responsive, and strikes a good balance between offering features and visual organization; the end result is a decidedly uncluttered design.
The process of a domain transfer (as is the case with any other registrar) is to ensure the domain being transferred in is unlocked, and that WHOIS information is set to public. From there, the administrative contact email must be verified, and the transfer authorization code must be entered. After these four steps are completed, clicking Accept And Proceed sends you to the domain configuration screen.
This is where the ease of use of Google Domains really shines, as custom resource records can be easily added by the user in a very straightforward way, in comparison to the user control panels of GoDaddy (and its resellers) and Moniker. This also has preset data that can be activated for use with Google Apps, among other services. For transfers, it does a superb job of transferring the existing settings to the domain configuration manager. For new registrations, this isn't quite something that can be done automatically, as Google doesn't offer website hosting beyond the somewhat limited Google Sites service.
Screenshot of a configuration screen in Google Domains
The available standard top-level domains (TLDs) on Google Domains — .com, .net, .org, the country code TLD (ccTLD) for the US, .us, as well as .info and .biz — are $12 per year. This pricing is not competitive, as Moniker and many other registrars beat this price by at least a few dollars (at the time of writing, a one-year .com registration at Moniker is $9.59, the same term for .net is $9.19, and .org is $10.09). The .us ccTLD at Moniker is $7.29 per year. The .cc TLD (a ccTLD for the Cocos Islands) is $20, whereas Moniker's pricing is $18.99 per year.
Google Domains also offers the generic TLDs .today, .tips, .technology, .solutions, .photography, .email, .company, and .center for $20 per year, which is comparable to the prices at Moniker. The generic TLD (gTLD) .guru is offered at $28 per year, which is a few dollars more than Moniker at $24.99.
Google Domains offers free private registration with each domain; this is a service that other domain registrars typically charge approximately $5 per domain, per year for.
Google Domains utilizes Google Wallet for payments. Happily, in comparison to certain unscrupulous domain registrars, there are no opt-out (or opt-in) value-added services automatically added onto the bill to clutter and complicate the checkout process, which results in a greatly faster checkout.
Sparse availability of ccTLDs
Probably owing to the fact that the Google Domains service is still in an invitation-only beta, ccTLDs are almost non-existent at Google Domains at this juncture. The only apparently available ccTLDs are .us and .cc, though .cc is rarely used for purposes relating to the Cocos Islands.
Who holds your keys to the internet?
Does Google's privacy-focused, no-frills, easy to use domain registrar venture sound appealing enough for you to switch? Have you applied for or received a beta invitation to Google Domains? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.