Google Reader courts the Gmail crowd

Google Reader post actions

Google Reader has launched a major update to its web front-end about a year after its initial launch, redesigning its online feed aggregator to create a feed reading experience that should feel natural to users of Gmail. New features include a shared clippings service, better read/unread tracking, and the ability to share feed items easily over e-mail.

Google Reader UI

The coolest new feature is Google Reader’s continuous scroll of feed items combined with automatically selecting each feed item as you move around the news flow. You’ll find a lot more access keys in the new Reader, mapped to the common Gmail commands for massage navigation and actions. I like the Gmail-style unread count displayed in the page title, allowing me to glance at my row of tabs to see if I have anything new in my feed inbox.

Google Reader post actions

The new shared items feature is similar to clippings found in other online aggregators and allows users to share an entry with the world via a blog tied to their Reader account. You can check out my Google Reader clippings blog for an example. Clips are shared in the order you mark each for sharing.

The new Google Reader is pretty impressive and may become the online aggregator of choice for many Gmail users. I was a bit disappointed Google did not leverage what I feel are its two biggest strong points: the data advantages of online feed aggregators and close integration with other Google services. An online aggregator has an edge over desktop aggregators by providing more information about each post or blog based on what might be already known about the site or based on the activity of a user collective. An online Google feed reader could tie into Google search, or offer special handling of enclosures passed off to Calendar or Spreadsheet. I’m most surprised that the new Google Reader does not include search integration with Google feed search, and actually removes the search bar that was present at the top of the page in Reader’s first version.

Google Reader is a Google Labs product and part of Google’s technology playground. Labs products are considered “prototypes” but may graduate to Google betas after significant user adoption and technical proving.

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Commentary on "Google Reader courts the Gmail crowd":

  1. urbandesignr on wrote:

    Hey Niall, great review of the reader service, one correction, the feed search is within the “add subscription” interface,and a list of related blogs will be presented.

    Thanks for pointing out the new features, I think I’m off Newsalloy and back onto Google Reader.

  2. luca on wrote:

    Great review. I’m wondering why they are not implementing some of Google Reader’s features into GMail, like preview pane for instance.

  3. David Hardman on wrote:

    Nice review Niall.

    There is still ONE feature that I want in a RSS reader which I am yet to find in any of the readers (online and offline) I have used (admittedly, not that many).

    I want to be able to manage multiple subscription profiles.

    One profile will contain subscriptions for my “work related” feeds. Another will have subscriptions to “fun stuff”. Another will contain subscriptions to feeds that I know don’t update frequently. It seems pointless to poll these types of feeds 50 times a day when you know they are lucky to have an update once a week.

    I want to be able to switch between each of these profiles easily.

    This can’t be too hard to do.

    Anyone know of a reader that does this?


  4. Jonathan Putnam on wrote:

    There are two ways you can do this. The easiest (what I do), is to group feeds via labels. You can make a folder (umm, label) for work feeds and a folder for fun stuff. Another way is to use two different google accounts. I realize it’s been a couple of months, so you’ve probably already figured that out but I figured I’d post in case anybody stumbled across this thread via a search engine.