30 November 2011

Google Reader Experiments and more design tweaks

After being seemingly neglected for several months, many people started to wonder if still had a future – and the recent poor redesign and removal of features didn’t quite alleviate those fears. But a small update I noticed earlier today may prove them wrong: like Gmail and Calendar, Reader got it’s own ‘Labs’ section, located in the ‘Settings’ under the new tab ‘Experiments’. So there is some small hope that the product will continue to be developed and gain new features. Currently there’s just one thing to try out, toggling smooth scrolling on or off. It’s a nice effect for expanded view, but unfortunately quite annoying in list view, where it causes the article list to scroll back and forth every time you open or select an item. I doubt I will be using it much. Google Reader Experiments smooth scrolling

Along with ‘Experiments’, there were some tweaks to the design as well. Many users have complained about the lack of visual separators between subscriptions and reading area and those have been added today. It looks much better overall, but I don’t like that in list view there is now an extra light-yellow highlight on the current post, I could find my way just fine before. Furthermore, when you open the item the highlight doesn’t disappear, instead acting as a duplicate of the item title and distracting me from the actual content… A very questionable choice, if you ask me. And now I have to adapt my user style once more…

Even though these new changes are mostly in the right direction, I can’t help wondering why launched Reader in that state, when it could have shown the new look as a preview, like they did with Gmail, and gather feedback this way. It’s still OK they are trying to fix things and listen to feedback, but I am starting to grow tired of all these minor changes here and there. It’s too bad I can’t get used to Feedly, it has all the right features, but still doesn’t feel as simple and functional as Reader once was.

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