Former Google Reader PM Calls Changes a "Disaster"

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-11-01 Print this article Print

In case people haven't heard enough griping about the new Google Reader changes, which kill off comments, sharing, likes and other social tools, former Google Reader Product Manager Brian Shih weighed in Oct. 31 with his own thoughts on the product.

For a recap, Reader's social tools were nixed in favor of the Google +1 button and Google+ sharing integration, which began across Google's Web services in July. Shih, who was working on comments and the last round of sharing changes, left Google in July.

Coincidence? Shih didn't specify in a post blasting the new Reader changes, but I think it's pretty clear he wasn't happy with the direction Google was taking Reader, which in his post he said Google has "long neglected as a product."

That's actually what was sort of cool about it to my mind. Google has all of these programmers it feels it needs to keep coding on hamster wheels to justify paying them so it's constantly monkeying with its products.

I liked that Reader was "neglected" for long. It worked for me. So when I heard about the changes, I was a little worried. Then I opened Reader today to find this more streamlined interface, which I appreciated:

GR Change.png

All of my feed subscriptions live on the left per usual, but the top navigation is different, clearly labeling the refresh, new items and settings navigation buttons:

GR 2.png

To the far right, there is one button each for expanded view and list view, as well as one each for arrowing between new and older items.

But here is where the real controversy lives:

GR 3.png

I never used the "social tools" anyway, preferring to share content in Facebook, Twitter and now, Google+. So I welcome the option to share in Google+, which I can do by clicking the +1 button and entering text in the share box to start sharing:

GR 4.png

Shih hates this set-up, bemoaning Reader's new gray color scheme, the number of steps to share, and the lack of full-body stories to read in Reader:

Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows....

I'm already comfortable with the changes. Anyone else with me? I mean, besides Google Product Marketing Manager Louis Gray, who helped with the changes.

Judging from the worldwide outcry, I suspect we may be in the minority. |

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