Friday, September 29, 2006

Google Reader gets a facelift

Here are my first thoughts about Google Reader's new interface:

  • What's up with the Home view? One of the best things about the previous interface (as well as those of other Google services, like Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Notebook) is that you are presented immediately with information that you can deal with and manipulate, not some filtered and static-text summary of "what's new" and a tips and tricks box. On the other hand, the Reader Team probably thought they could get away with it just as the Blogger Team did. It's not too bad, I'll get used to it, but boy would I be happy if I could at least set All Items view as my default Reader view.
  • The Expanded view is really nice, especially if the feeds you're subscribed to contain mostly relatively-brief posts. It's like getting all the posts from different sites and turning them into a sort-of-blog. Speaking of which, you'll get an actual published blog page for blog entries that you've "shared", so other people can see them, since... you know... that's what sharing is all about...
  • If you miss the ol' one-post-at-a-time simplicity of the old Reader interface, I suggest you try to acquaint yourself with the List view. It's like the old interface married with Gmail's interface. Try it out, and if you still miss the old Reader, check one of my tips below.
  • The handy old shortcuts still work, if you didn't notice from the big box in the Home view, which appears every time you refresh the page.
  • Yay! Less grey!
  • On a related note, I wonder when they'll integrate Google BlogSearch with Google Reader. Probably when BlogSearch starts detecting Google Accounts. *wishes*

Just a few tips before I go to sleep. First, certain Greasemonkey scripts will give Google Reader some pretty weird behavior. In my case, the Pure Google script removed all the buttons and the useful links on upper-left of the page, and made the hovering "Tip:Manage you list" element look rather strange indeed. Can't remember why I installed the damned script in the first place. Second, you can actually return to the old interface. Just go to Settings, then Preferences, and click on the handy button there. Third and last, if you were shocked that the Search box disappeared ("OMG! A Google product with no Search!!!"), take a breather and then click on the small green "Add subscription" link on the left side.

Verdict: More and at the same time less Googly than the old version. I prefer "More Googly, period." I'll give this a passing grade, but will be expecting a lot of improvements in the coming weeks.

Good night.

Slightly Offtopic Update: Even Google Groups got a facelift, albeit as another experimental beta, a la Blogger. The features are cool, but the UI is ugly... although you can customize it... but c'mon, that's no excuse for barely looking like a Google product.

Update: Barely two weeks after its release, the new Google Reader interface has been improved! You can now set your start page and hide the left panel. What else is still missing? Easy: Search is still too limited.