Google launches an RSS aggregator.

Google is on a roll having just launched their newest web service called Google Reader which is a news aggregator for reading the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds of various websites such as this here fine blog. Google Reader will let you search for RSS feeds from your favorite websites as well as similar related sites then allow you to subscribe to them and flag articles of interest in the same way you can flag important emails in Google Mail.

I’ve been a big fan of Bloglines for awhile now and I really like the way it handles news feeds, but I’ll be trying out Google Reader to see how it feels in the next few weeks. One thing that does bother me about Google Reader is it appears to strip out some formatting options from the newsfeeds it handles such as the HTML tags that allow me to float an image to the right of the text like the one here of Google Reader in the upper right corner (click for a bigger pic). Bloglines doesn’t do that so the article looks closer to how it would if you were looking at my blog directly.

Still, the interface in Google Reader is very slick and feels much more like an application than a webpage. Like most things Google, the feature set in Google Reader is not as varied as Bloglines and other similar services, but they do simplicity very well and if you don’t need all the extra bells and whistles (or find them too difficult to grapple with) then that may be a benefit from your perspective.

7 thoughts on “Google launches an RSS aggregator.

  1. I checked it out the second I heard about it. First thing I did was export my Bloglines feeds list over to it. 115 feeds.

    I have grown so used to Bloglines that it will take a really great new idea to pull me away from it. Google’s entry didn’t do it.

    They are missing a key feature that Bloglines has. The ability to mark all posts as read. Whether that be on a singe feed level, folder level or entire list level. I have way too many posts to read since I exported my feed list and no way of saying that I’m current at this point. I sent them feedback for that.

    I’m really used to clicking on the “label” to read all the posts that belong to that group. I then read the posts in feed order. Google’s reader seems to display the posts in an order that I haven’t quite figured out. It’s probably date/time order. If that is so, I would hope that they present the posts from oldest to newest, but I don’t think they do. Bloglines lets me choose which way I see my posts.

    I realize that this is a “Beta” product, but a lot of Google’s products are beta and don’t change much during that period.

    Another annoyance with Google’s reader is that when you “unsubscribe” from a feed, the entries for that feed are still in your reading queue. I don’t see anyway of removing them.

    By the way, it’s also really slow with just 115 feeds. I would hate to see what more would do to it. I am sure my list of feeds is small compared to others.

  2. Bloglines?  What is that?  I checked out the Google reader the first day it came out and I then promptly searched for a way to cancel my Bloglines account (didn’t find a way to do that by the way.)  The reader is great, though it has enough funky interface bugs that the average joe might pull his hair out trying to use it.  At first I could not even get the thing to work but now in Firefox it is rockin.  The best thing about the reader is something that I have been very unpatiently waiting for… a tagging system!  Now I can tag my feeds so I know how I came across the feeds, what category they belong in, and whatever else I want to say about them.  Once your list gets to a certain volume it gets hard to remember why I started reading a certain feed in the first place.  The ability to place a star on a feed is also an awsome feature that you can use to save an entry for later reading.  Last I checked Bloglines does not have this feature.  You can clip, email, or blog an entry, but doing this requires a click and page refresh.  To star an entry in Google reader you only need to hit S on the keyboard and go on your merry way.  Another cool thing about the reader is that all entries show up in a rolling list organized by date (I think) which is the way I like to read my feeds. 

    This reader should be real great once they start acting on the feedback and adding new features.  Good job Google!

  3. Bloglines pretty much does all that you mentioned. Staring a post is about the only thing that it doesn’t do, and I really don’t see a need for it myself.

    If by tagging, you are referring to the “label” thing at the bottom of a post, what good is that for? I can’t seem to search for it, it doesn’t put the post in the labels list in the subscriptions section, and it doesn’t show up in the filters.

    Don’t get me wrong here, they have a really good start here. They just need some work before it stands out in my eyes.

  4. Cancel a Bloglines account?

    That’s like SocialSecurity numbers and the Witness Protection Program; One can never (never) cancel a SSN—one can only stop using it.


  5. Dave, if you click on “your subscriptions” you get a list of labels.  When you click on a lable you get a list of feed addresses that correspond with this label.  This is like the #1 feature that I would have added to a wishlist.  The only way you have to tag feeds in Bloglines is to add the feed to a folder, but if you want more than one tag you have to put the feed in more than one folder.  The folders have to be in a hierarchical order which I do not want.  I would rather my feeds all be in one huge list and be able to sort them by tags. 

    Imagine going through your garage and finding a whole bunch of stuff you forgot about and you wonder why you might need that particular thing.  So you throw the thing out and then you remember why you needed it and then you have to go back and find it.  This happens to me all the time.  Some of the feeds I read are from people that are very important in a given industry but do not post very often.  Many of those few posts might be something that is about daily life which may not be important to you.  The website address may give no clue about the person authoring the feed.  Every so often this person comes out with an article that is like the most enlightening thing you have ever read.  I read lots of feeds like this and tagging is the only way for me to keep track of why I am subscribed.

    Another analogy might be like having a personal phone book with numbers, but no names.  Or maybe only first names.  Eventually you forget who the person is or how you met them.

    Giving a feed a star is also very important.  I use Onfolio which allows me to add a feed to a saved reading list.  That way I can scroll through a ton of feeds and select those that look interesting to read later.  Bloglines does not have an easy way to do this.  As I said before, you have to clip the item, and the page refreshes.  Google has eliminated this with the use of Ajax. 

    Sure the reader has a ways to go and lacks on features, but a simple reader really needs few features.  I want power, not features.  Reader just really jives with the way my brain works.

  6. Oh, the reader has some problems, which is probably why it has the beta label.  At first in Internet Explorer I couldn’t get anything to work.  I had the exact same problems with the tags.  I think I even had problems in Firefox.  After some fumbling the thing all of a sudden started working perfectly.  Right now I am using it in Firefox and some of my items have more than two tags.  When you click on a tag in the list of tags, all the addresses with that tag appears.  Right now I do not have enough tags that I need to be able to search for them, but that may be a problem in the future.

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