Google Reader, Google's web-based RSS Aggregator, has had a re-design and I am impressed. It now has a look n' feel very much like Gmail, which I believe is a pointer to this product being prepped for mainstream promotion - and/or merged with Gmail. Probably a bit of both, as a standalone RSS Reader is always going to be needed. You'll recall that the new Yahoo Mail Beta has RSS integrated into its email experience - and the reason for that is quite simply to reach the 250 Million odd people that have a Yahoo Mail account. What better way to make RSS a mainstream experience than to integrate it into the web email platform. So I expect Google to follow suit.
Google Reader List view
You probably know that I am a huge fan of Gmail, so this new Google Reader interface was immediately a pleasure to use. I love that it automatically marks items as 'read' as you scroll. I also like the List view (very much like email), for quick scrolling, and the 'Expanded' view feels much more natural to use now. The 'sharing' functionality is excellent too - a shared clippings blog similar to Bloglines; and ability to share via email.
The new features:
- Expanded view and list view
- Simplified sharing functionality
- Improved read-state management
- Infinite scrolling
- Unread counts
- Mark all as read
I remember trying out Google Reader back in the Web 2.0 Conference last year, when it was launched. I was underwhelmed at that time, but this new design - with its Gmail-like interface, features, and speed to match - is much more impressive. Like Niall Kennedy, I hope they also integrate blog search into the Reader at some point - as well as tie into other Google services. But otherwise, Google has upped the ante in the online RSS Reader space. And also gone a long way towards matching Yahoo's email/RSS integration.