Confirmed: Google Reader is Going Real Time (Updated)

We just received confirmation from Google that Google Reader now consumes PubSubHubbub feeds in real time. Until now, it often took half an hour or longer before new posts from popular blogs and news sites would appear in Google Reader. Now, however, posts from PubSubHubbub-enabled feeds (including our own RSS feed) have started to appear in Google Reader almost immediately after they are published.

Update: Our original reporting was based on the increased speed we and other bloggers noticed yesterday. We have now received confirmation from a Google spokesperson that our informed guess was indeed correct. Google will post an update about this news in the next few days. We have updated this post to reflect this new development.

From Slow to Real Time

Bloggers and readers started to complain about Google Reader’s delays shortly after Google launched the service in its current form, but until today, Google hadn’t really done anything to address these complaints.

Google began to publish real-time feeds for shared Google Reader items in August 2009. Until now, however, Google did not consume the real-time updates from PubSubHubbub-enabled feeds, even though most of Google’s own blogs and FeedBurner now publish in real time. Google’s App Engine, too, offers support for PubSubHubbub and some of the most popular real-time notifications bots are hosted on App Engine.

It’s important to note that these real-time updates (assuming our observations and those from other bloggers turn out to be true) will only work for PubSubHubbub-enabled blogs. One of the major problem with Google Reader is that it pings relatively obscure feeds very infrequently and this won’t change anytime soon if these feeds don’t support real-time updates yet.

How to Enable PubSubHubbub on Your Blog

If you use WordPress and want to enable PubSubHubbub on your own blog, you can do so by installing the PubSubHubbub Wodpress plugin. By default, every blog on Blogger and Posterous already supports PubSubHubbub. Update: we mistakenly reported that WordPress.com blogs use the PubSubHubbub protocol, but WordPress.com actually uses the rssCloud format, which Google doesn’t currently support.

If you’re using Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds, you can also turn on Google’s PingShot service and sent out PubSubHubbub announcements in real time.

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