Google Reader updated…I like it!
Last night I stumbled upon a story about the changes that Google made to their web-based RSS aggregator, Google Reader. Then I saw the article on JKOntheRun about it, after I went to check the new Reader out. I didn’t like Google Reader much before because the interface for scrolling through the feeds was kind of clunky. There was this smooth-scrolling sidebar that listed your feeds, and then when you clicked on one, the sidebar would then list the stories in that feed. It was too slow to navigate many feeds in a short amount of time.
But now they’ve changed it up, and I like it! The integration with Gmail is particularly nice. Sometimes I will use Furl or the e-mailing functionality in Newsgator or Rojo to forward articles to my friends, but I would inevitably forget to copy myself on it, so I didn’t have a record of what stories I forwarded, or to whom I forwarded the stories. Now with Google Reader, when I e-mail a story, it gets stored in my Sent Mail “folder”. Nice!
I haven’t played around with it too much yet, but I know I like the “river of news” expanded view, because it matches the way I read my RSS feeds. I basically just choose one feed and skim the articles until I end up at an old article I’ve seen already. I prefer this method over the “list view” in Reader, which looks like a Gmail view of article headlines — the headline is analogous to the subject line of your e-mails, and then there is an excerpt of the article presented following the headline. If you have Gmail you know what I’m talking about. 🙂 I guess I kind of sort through my interest in articles by the photos that accompany the headline. Then if there aren’t any photos, I take more time to consider the headline. Sort of judging a book by its cover, I know, but hey, that’s how I skim my feeds. 🙂
There is a way to mark articles to share them on a public page that you can share with other people, kind of like how people on Digg can see what their friends have been Digging, or how del.icio.us/Furl users can see what other people are reading.
Another new (?) feature in Reader is the ability to stream audio and video (?) content, like podcasts (or netcasts, like Leo Laporte would like to rename them 🙂 ). Actually, I’m not sure if video content can be streamed through Reader, because I know there are some Gizmodo articles that embed YouTube videos, and those weren’t visible in Reader.
I probably won’t use this feature very much because I prefer downloading the content and listening/viewing it offline on a mobile device, but again, it’s a nice feature to take advantage of in a pinch.
I’m glad to see these updates to Google Reader. I am more inclined to use it now, because of its integration with Gmail, as well as its clean, simple interface. I was switching back and forth between Newsgator and Rojo (mainly using Newsgator recently, due to Rojo’s flakiness during their upgrade) ever since I decided to go back to online RSS aggregators instead of desktop apps. I really like Newsgator for the most part, and I may still switch to it if Google Reader starts acting up, but for now I’m going to stick with Reader for the next few weeks or so and see how it works out. Yes, I’m willingly getting sucked into the Google Grid. 🙂