Google Reader – a new web based RSS reader

So, Google has also got on the bandwaggon, and surprised us this week by the unexpected launch of Google Reader, a web based RSS reader with a futuristic interface built around the same snazzy AJAX interface we’re so used to now (and still impressed with) in GMail.

There’s an excellent in-depth review of Google Reader over at the unofficial Google weblog.

But, make no mistake, in it’s current form, Google Reader does not pose a threat to other online RSS readers like Bloglines and Newsgator Online.

Importing the 275+ RSS feeds I’m subscribed to took absolutely ages, and appeared to hang. Eventually, I gave up, closed the browser, re-opened it, and found that only around 60 entries had been imported.

Clicking on most of the blog titles in the list resulted in an error being displayed in the status bar – Could not find parameter ‘date’ in map ‘entry-template’. The beta status of this release is very visible.

There’s a host of other things which I don’t like either – unable to remove many feeds in one go, content search sucks, no grouping hierarchy (blogs can be tagged, but can’t see where this is displayed except managing subscriptions), etc.

Yes, this is a beta, but when Google give us high quality and usable betas like GMail, Google Groups, and Google News, we expect all their betas released to the public to be of similar quality. Admittedly, Google Reader is much more complex and user-focused [than Groups or News], but they still shouldn’t rush to market with a product that simply isn’t ready.

For now, I’m going to stick with Bloglines, which does everything I want to, and is a top notch online RSS reader. Will definitely be keeping my eye on Google Reader though. Although there’s no reason to switch now, things in this market change very quickly, and if Google listen to the feedback and refine their product, then moving from one RSS reader to another can be done very, very quickly.

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