It’s probably safe to say that Google Reader is the most successful RSS reader. While not exactly a mainstream service, those who do use it, tend to love it. The biggest problem with Reader is that it really hasn’t been iterated to keep it current with new competitors.
To begin, users would (and still do) visit sites each day to see what’s new. RSS introduced a mechanism to see only the latest content from the sites we love in a single list. Now, in 2011, there’s a variety of ways to get your news, including the faster Twitter and more extensively used Facebook.
Getting access to the latest news has evolved, some would say to leave RSS behind., Clicking Subscribe or Like on a company, band, movie or almost anything, will keep you up to date in a much simpler way than Google Reader ever could. It seems without innovation in this space, Google Reader missed a chance to be the destination site for all news.
When we talk about social, Google Reader
has had great sharing capabilities. Adding friends would allow you to see what they are reading and discover new and exciting sites. You could also take that shared feed and send the content you like the most to a blog, social network, email – almost anywhere.
Personally I had configured http://ifttt.com to automatically post the items I shared to Twitter, taking the title and link for the tweet. Easy, simple, the click of one button. In this update to Google Reader, Google broke that functionality. The Shared button has now been removed from the bottom of each post, but hey at least they allow you to download your Shared items via a JSON Activity feed. Google says it’s the industry standard, while it may be in the future, all current services use XML as the transportable format.
While the new Google Reader is the most substantial change in years, it’s sadly not the innovation we, hardcore users were after. Google says they are removing the clutter, focusing more on the content of your feeds. While that may be part of the update, it’s clear the reason for this change was to have better integration with Google+.
It seems the left hand panel of your feeds is no longer dockable. While the default option may be to have this collapsed, there should at least be an option to enable it if you choose. Those with widescreen monitors could simply pick off individual feeds to review, now that becomes and 2-click process every time. This is a step backwards in usability.
Now for the good news.. Under View Settings you can now access View in Reader Play. This feature allows you to skim through the latest stories in your feeds, visually.
The new Google Reader is available now @ http://reader.google.com