Google released a significant redesign of Google Reader yesterday that addresses much of the criticism the app received when it first launched. The G Poppa also separated its instant messaging and voice call product, Google Talk, from Gmail.
When Reader debuted last October, it had a lot of problems, chief of which was the app was completely unstable. Even when you could access Reader, it was unintuitive. That fact in itself was a departure for Google. Like Nathan Weinberg said last October: "Its biggest failing could be that it performs like no other RSS reader I've ever used. Newcomers to RSS may fall in love with it, but the early adopters don't appear to be big fans."
The new Reader is a vast improvement. Google is pitching the product as "your inbox for the Web." I like that description, because it's a bet/acknowledgment of how feeds play a central role in your online life. I'll be interested to see how many people adopt the "share feeds" option, and then how many people subscribe to other peoples' RSS feeds through Reader. (p.s. that's a lot more information coursing through Google's servers, and a lot more info to base advertising on.)
I just imported all my feeds from Bloglines so I can test it out. The only complaint I have so far is that after I deleted all my old subscriptions from 2005 (I read what?) and imported my Bloglines subs (I read too much), Reader still shows some vestigial subscriptions that I can't delete. Oh wait, they're tags. I get it. That's cool.
New features include:
- Unread post counts and folders
- folder-based navigation
- starred posts
- sharing of feeds
- saving posts
And more. Check out the Google Reader blog for more details. Google also divorced Talk from Gmail yesterday. I suspected they'd do this eventually, since they were using the popularity of Gmail as a boost for Talk adoption. But I thought they'd wait until more people were using Talk. If I recall correctly, Talk has not been widely adopted (can't find the stats right now.) Don't forget that Google and AOL's AIM are supposed to start interoperating sometime soon (early next year?), so perhaps the G Poppa is just preparing for that.