When Google announced their web-based RSS reader called Google Reader at the Web 2.0 Conference last October, I took a quick look, but I honestly wan’t that impressed. I imported my list of subscribed RSS feeds and gave it a try, but it was really, really slow and buggy, living up to its “beta” label. Most importantly though, it just didn’t feel right. I had been using Bloglines for over a year, and didn’t see any compelling reason to switch. On Friday, almost a full year after the first release of Google Reader, an announcement appeared in my Bloglines subscriptions about a new version that was available Thursday. I spent a few minutes exploring, and can safely say that it’s now a real threat to Bloglines.
What I like:
- It’s more like Gmail, my favorite email client.
- It’s fast, and uses a lot of AJAX to keep page reloading to a minimum.
- When looking at all of my new items “river of news” style, it marks them as read as I go instead of in bulk like Bloglines does. That means I don’t have to try and get through them all out of fear that I might miss something before it disappears as read.
- The keyboard shortcuts are similar to Gmail’s, and are easy to remember (it’s a lot easier to scan through items using the keyboard instead of the mouse)
- Besides publicly sharing feeds, you can share individual new items to be displayed on a public page. Here’s mine.
- They’ve already got a really handy widget for the Google Personalized Homepage that gives you a quick glance of your feeds as they update.
What could be better:
Ok, it’s not always fast. If you ever do need to load a new page (settings, for example), it can take a while.
- It’d be really nice to have an OPML file of my subscribed feeds available at a fixed web address. Bloglines lets me do this already, and it’s nice to have an always updated listing for use in applications like Grazr
Overall, I think that version one of Google Reader was too different from Bloglines for my tastes. The new version shares a lot of similarities with its competitor, making me a whole lot more comfortable using it. Bloglines keeps getting enhancements and improvements too, so I’m happy to say there are now two web-based RSS readers I recommend.