Via Slashdot, Google has a new "Web 2.0" application pre-released to the public -- Google Reader beta, a heavily Ajaxified RSS reader, in the field against other popular aggregators like Bloglines or Rojo.
It has a nice very-Gmail-like interface, with short-cut keys like j for next unread message, and k for the previous one! Must have been a vi user! I also like the "page-less" scroller. While not as good as OpenRico's LiveGrid widget, it has demonstrated how web applications will be in the future -- no more "next" and "previous" pages, but a scroller that fetches new items on demand.
However, the overall feel is still "beta" quality, and this beta is even more "beta" than Gmail's beta. It does not feel very responsive most of the time -- probably because I imported almost 100 feeds from my Bloglines account to give it a stress test. Lots of clicks are required to manage subscription, and I have not found a way to mark everything in a feed as read.
It is promising though, and I hope it can evolve and improve in the same way how Gmail improved over the last year. Then it would be the moment where I'll dump Bloglines for this new Google service.
And it should not be surprising that Google developed their own RSS reader. Since they have already fetched all the news feeds out there for the Google Blog Search to index, they might as well build a reader on top of the same data. Moreover, Google can conveniently slap in their AdSense for feeds to generate more income from advertisement.
Now we just need to wait for it to mature.