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Google Feed Reader

August 16th, 2009

Google has made lots of changes to its feed reader since it was first launched and has slowly but steadily gained ground on Blog lines (RSS software by Yahoo!), to the extent that it is now marginally superior. Particularly helpful to those who want to keep up with the latest in their area of interest, Google Reader is a convenient and effective option. Subscribing to a feed cannot get easier ? just click the Add Subscription link and enter the feed address if you know it, or some search terms if you do not. Headlines from all your feeds can be accessed in a single ‘All Items’ view, or you can go through each subscription separately by clicking the individual feed names on the left. Stories can be displayed in two ways. List view gives just the heading and a single line preview of the text it contains (the same way Google Mail displays messages), while expanded shows you all the text and any attached photos and videos. This is a much better way of catching up with the latest stories, although it can be annoyingly slow at times. Users may face a problem when Google mixes feeds, displaying them to you in what appears to be chronological order with the latest items coming first. This is great because we always want to start with the freshest content, but it gets too hogging for the computer to process. On the other hand, the keyboard shortcuts for Google Reader are really good. The sharing aspect is also great: you get a sort of a link-blog where you can share interesting feed items. This is a neat way of sharing information with friends and coworkers. In Blog lines, there is a link at the top that will let you unsubscribe. In Google Reader, there is no way to unsubscribe when you are looking at the item. Instead, you have to click the ?Manage Subscriptions? link and locate the feed you are on in order to unsubscribe. Increase your subscribed to over a hundred feeds then it is hard to locate a particular one. Plus, when you are viewing a feed item, you can use the ?v? shortcut to open the original page of the feed item in another window/tab. This is useful for feeds that are not full-text. Despite all these minute problems Google Reader is better than Blog lines. It fits with how you like to enjoy your feeds. If they could work on making the stats more useful and also take care of the usability issues involved in unsubscribing from a feed, it would be much better. Feeds can be sorted and organized into individual folders and items can be starred (to make finding them easier), shared and searched for. Google Reader is straightforward, tidy and, thanks to Google Gears (http://gears. google. com,)  it can even be accessed off line.