So I was cribbing about how Google Reader is missing the G+ share feature on twitter, and viola, the button appears. I would love to think this happened because of my feedback, but then again it’s just wishful thinking.
Recently Google Reader has got a lot of flak from users complaining about the new look. There has been enough talk about the “new” Google reader, and I must say, that I have to write about it. I used to love Google Reader, and actually I still do. Google reader is simply the best web-based aggregator out there, in my opinion. Its simple, lightweight, and really good to keep a tab on everything.
However my problem with Google Reader is slightly different. I loved the small internal social community of google reader because it worked good enough for me. I have no problems moving that social integration to Google+, much like all other google products, but I think it should not come at a cost of lack of functionality. Earlier I could, in a straightforward way, see the articles my friends were sharing (again, sharing, not liking, +1ing or anything like that). I have said this so many times, sharing an article does not mean I am +1ing it! I may want to share the article with a group of people doesn’t mean I like it and/or support it. With the new reader its impossible to find out what are my friends reading without going over to Google+.
I see that this makes more people visit Google+ to check the updates, but I don’t understand why Google+ needs to be Facebook. For crying out loud, even in Facebook I can now see what my friends are reading without leaving the reader. Google doesn’t have to follow a Facebook model. I like google+ because it allows me to create a social app where it is, not by necessarily going back to plus.google.com. Similarly why is it so difficult to annotate articles with small icons showing friends who shared them? Why not allow me to see the articles that my friends have shared. For example when you are in Spotify, you can still see what your other friends top artists are. You don’t have to go back to facebook.com and figure it out.
This to me, seems like was a step back. I like the new look, and really like the homogeneous interface (although I wish there was a compact view, much the like one in Gmail) and the fact that they maintained the light weight interface. But I don’t think the UI benefits outweigh the integrated social activity. I am not even asking Google to restore the original social network of Google Reader, but just integrate Google+ social integration better so that it maintains the functionality provided by the original one!