Checking Out Google Reader

Posted on Mon 29 January 2007 in Dispatches • 2 min read

On recommendation of far too many people to mention, I’m checking out Google Reader again.

I remember peeking at it when it was first released, when I was stubbornly intent on sticking with browser/desktop based reader, and I remember being less than impressed. In typical Google fashion the initial interface was so sparse and ultimately gave me the initial impression of it being a fairly weak client. In fact, I was so turned off by it, that I never gave it a chance beyond feeding it a few test subscriptions before going back to using Sage.

Ultimately, it would be Bloglines that converted me to web-based feed reading. I fell in love with its simple interface and powerful key commands, as well as the convenience of accessing my feeds everywhere. As I began to imbibe more and more of the Web 2.0 kool-aid, I began to manage more and more of my life on the web. I’ve been using Bloglines for at least nine months now, and I’ve been quite happy with it. The Bloglines notifier held a place of honor in my Firefox status bar, right next to theGmail manager extension.

bloglines

Bloglines

Now, when I started hearing people recommending Google Reader to me again, I was suspicious that the Google fanboy virus was to blame. However, upon reflecting on the wonder that is Gmail, not to mention Google Calendar and the fantastic overhaul of Google Groups I decided that I’d give Reader another try.

All I have to say is, “Wow.” I’m really impressed with the new interface, it seems to blend the best features of Bloglines, Gmail and more tag-based service like Rojo. The key-commands are similar to Gmail, and uses tags/labels just like Gmail as well. The interface is really nice and I find the interface far more visually pleasing than Bloglines, and not nearly as cluttered as Rojo. I like that when I start reading a feed that items are marked as read when I scroll past them, as opposed to Bloglines which marks every item as read as soon as I open the feed. Also, while I don’t make use of this feature as much, I really like the way Google integrates their feed sharing features into the service. Every feed has the option to be shared, as does each feed item, and each feed item can be emailed with a single click. Very slick.

google reader

Google Reader

Those sharing features are also available in Bloglines, but they seem more prominent in Google Reader. On the whole, GR seems more polished, although I do enjoy the simplicity of Bloglines. It remains to be seen if I’m going to switch for good, but I think I’ll run them both parallel for a while and let you all know about the experience.

Incidentally, if you want to try out Google Reader, I’d recommend checking out the Google Reader Notifier extension for Firefox, by Mark D.B.D. It rocks.