Google’s RSS aggregator Google Reader which launched back in October just updated to a new version. The new version features a brand new look and feel which shares the traditional Bloglines-style layout and matches Google’s other products GMail and Google Calendar much better, a shared clipping service where every user gets their own public page (which is also similar to Bloglines’ own), and rebranding with emphasis as ‘your inbox for the web.’
Firstly, I have to say the new design is really cool. It’s fast, simple, and shares a distinct ‘Google’ feel. Something I noticed is that they’ve used their colours very wisely and have managed to achieve some great user interaction with it. You should also expect to find a lot of GMail-style AJAX, including quick tab-switching and things popping up and disappearing within a blink of an eye.
Second, they’ve added two views. You can view posts in the ‘Expanded View’ (traditional aggregator-style) or ‘List View’ (like GMail — a quick list which expands when clicked on). Being a long time GMail user, the List View is something that really appeals to me. It’s great that Google has chosen to add their own touch to RSS aggregating other than what’s already out there.
Their new clipping and sharing services are also a great addition. You can now tag items, star them, but what’s more is that you can ‘Share’ or ‘Unshare.’ All the items you marked as ‘Shared’ then go into your public page (here’s mine) which becomes in a way, a del.icio.us for feeds. What I find remarkable is that the time it takes to toggle ‘Share’ and ‘Unshare’ (literally less than 0.1 seconds) then reflect on what the public sees about you — they’ve taken some really good care in making sure they don’t make features as such so complicated and slow that it becomes a hassle to use it. It’s also worth mentioning that you can setup specific tags which you can choose to share (for example if I want to share all the items I tag as ‘Breaking News’).
Finally, their new tagline and focus as the ‘inbox for the web’ is a great way to look at it. When Google Reader first came out I have to admit I wasn’t really a fan. It was too simple and too featureless for me to even consider switching. With the new version, there’s no doubt they’ve stepped it up and it is actually now something I may switch to. I use GMail, I use Google Calendar, and now with the effort they’ve put into Google Reader it’s not hard to say how long it will take for me to make the transition from Bloglines to Google Reader.
[tags]RSS, Google Reader, Aggregators[/tags]