Google Reader is now more like other online feed readers. Now, that isn’t what you’d normally celebrate, but in this case, its much better that way 🙂
I had given a “No Go” to Google Reader when it was launched. In trying to be innovative and different, it had simply become confusing and did not do the essential things in the first place. Now, its better. They have retained the starring, added tagging etc. But it also does the first thing that you’d expect from a feed reader. Show an organized list of all your feeds with “Unread Count”. It also has the ability to mark them as read in bulk now.
And for some reasons it is better than bloglines. In bloglines, when you click on a feed with unread items and for some reason the list of items does not load properly (network is slow or you suddenly got disconnected), it’d have already marked them as read and they’d be lost. That’d not happen with Google Reader. The recent items, even if read, can be viewed. This is a good value addition I suppose, even if it wasn’t an accident which made you lost the item. You might just want to go back to it even after having read it. Further instead of marking all the items as read, as soon as you have clicked on the feed, it marks them unread as you scroll past individual items. This is good, but somewhat unintuitive. In the beginning I could not figure that out and was wondering why does one always have to click on “mark all as read” to get rid of unread items count. May be this functionality has to be put up at a noticeable place. Also, when you are viewing the items in “List Mode”, there is no easy way of marking individual items as read.
A big advantage, especially if you use other online Google Products like GMail, Calendar, Picasa Web, Writely etc. is having to sign in with just one account instead of having separate account for each of these application. I love that.
But what may still deter me is the lack of a desktop based notifier, which is a very good thing about bloglines. Hope Google Reader comes up with that too soon enough or may be release some API so that some one else can build one.
But I am still waiting for its integration with GMail. At least they could provide a link from GMail, so that I can easily open it from there. GMail is almost always open on my system.