Google Reader, Take 2

Google Reader Logo Almost a year ago Google released their own RSS aggregator entitled Google Reader, but it wasn't well received. It was heavily Ajaxified, and has a very flashy interface. However a flashy interface does not always bring good usability. It was slow, cumbersome, and always felt "getting into your way" when you tried to skimp through massively overloaded news items.

Yesterday, Google released a new version of Google Reader. Market droids want to call it "your inbox for the web", but let's call it Google Reader 2.0 because it is so different from its predecessor. Apparently many people love it. New attractions are:

  • Faster! (finally)
  • Gmail-style interface! (one of the best around)
  • Two views -- expanded or list!
  • Real Scroll Bar! (not DHTML crap)
  • Unread counts!

Well, for me it is not that fast comparing to my current favourite, but still a huge improvement from the old dog. I have imported part of my Bloglines feeds over to Google Reader to test it out, and it was surprisingly usable.

And it has very sweet short-cut keys :) Btw, why is Vi so influential in the Web 2.0 applications that every second Ajax app uses h j k l for navigation?

I think I'll keep my Google Reader for a bit longer this time to let it "run in" my daily reading routines. We'll see how it goes.

One interesting thing I found is, Google Reader is actually back in the labs now! One year ago it was released as "beta", just like most other Google products. After the face lift, instead of getting a one-point-oh status, now it has Google Labs showing next to the logo. If you go to the Labs home page, there's actually a big New next to Google Reader.

So, the first launch was mediocre. Now back to the labs!!