I love it when a Web service provider triggers redesigns and tells us they're more attractive than what they were offering before. Rarely does anyone find that to be the case right off the bat; it generally takes us users a day or two to absorb layout changes.
Yet here is Google, telling me that it has replaced old rounded corners, drop shadows and heavily saturated colors" with a "softer palette, faster components and a fresh new look" for Google Reader, my go-to RSS feed reader application.
In truth, the revamped aesthetics don't do much to please my eye, but they do seem to be executing on their function; Google Reader is a fraction of a second or two faster, so I say mission accomplished. The smaller text throughout seems to work. I'm digging it.
Another new alleged perk is the ability to hide unread counts. Eek! As a journalist who checks the Reader morning, noon and night, I wouldn't dream of this. But who knows, it may come in handy for vacation times.
Yes, the unread highlights do feel like a to-do list, but they're completely necessary for me to keep up with the TechCrunchs, ReadWriteWebs and the ATDs, et al.
Other new features include the ability to minimize and maximize each section in navigation pane, which like others I don't have use for. I also won't have much use for the change to shared items, which now has its own section in the navigation pane.
If so inclined, you can now collapse this entire section and use the title to see everything your friends have shared, or leave it open to track friends with shared items. Bah humbug.
There was also apparently a feed bundles option in the browse for stuff link in the navigation bar that I, like others, never used. It used to be manually created by the Google Reader folks, but like everything else at Google, they decided to automate it and let the machine do the work. Ho hum.
Warning: Some things have been moved. Looking for something that's moved? Google noted:
- The "Refresh" button from the subscription list is now in the Subscriptions options menu or triggered by clicking on the word "Subscriptions"
- The "Show all - updated" controls are now in the Subscriptions options menu.
- The "Add subscription" button has moved to the top of the navigation pane.
Net-net, the speed bump is a welcome gesture to an already sleek, proficient news feeding tool. Everything else is gravy. See what others think of the refurbished Google Reader here on TechMeme.