Google Reader (-1)

Posted on November 7, 2011

tl;dr: I don’t like the new Google Reader UI. I’m using Reeder for now and I like it a lot.

I used to be big fan of google reader. It was never pretty but it worked and it solved the syncing problem for me. I’m a heavy feed-user, I’m subscribed to many dozens of feeds with something in the range of about 200 new items per day. I read some during my commute, some during compilation/redeployment time. And the rest in the evening. I usually read my feeds on at least three devices. My Mac at work, my Mac at home and my iPhone. And since I got myself an iPad 2 I use that more and more (usually at the cost of my Mac at home) to read my feeds. Without sync, this would be a total mess. I basically have had to skim over every article 4 times, discarding most of them 4 times.

On iOS I tried Byline and Reeder for a longer time, switching between both. But during the last months I kept using Reeder and never looked back. Reeder has a nice, sleek interface, integrates very well with the services I tend to use (mainly Instapaper and Readability). I never seriously used any of the social features of any of those apps or Reader itself. This setup worked very well for me. Google Reader in Safari on the Macs and Reeder on iOS. This worked so well for me that I did not even really checked out Reeder for Mac that was released some time ago.

But a few days ago Google took it away. I assume in an attempt to push Google Plus even further down our throats, they completely redesigned Google Reader to look more like Plus and the rest of google. Apparently they also changed some social features of Reader, but none that I used. However the new Design annoyed me more and more the longer I looked at it. It looks so broken, unfinished. All those grey rects and bars. It is hard to see where an article starts and ends. Is this already the menu? I look at it and wait for the CSS to finish loading. But it is already there. That is how it is supposed to look? Seriously?

Something had to happen and I started looking for alternatives. My first instinct was to look at Reeder but a coleague of mine recommended Socialite to me (ironicaly via G+). Both are about 8€ on tha MAS and I tried both for a few days.

Socialite integrates Reader and many more Services, like Twitter, facebook and flickr into a clean, native Mac UI. Apart from Twitter, none of these were of interest to me. Sadly there is no Tweet Marker support in Socialite yet. Having both, tweets and unread articles in the same unread box sounded nice but to me didn’t work in practice. My Reader feeds already hava a rather bad signal to noise ratio. But the noise ratio in Twitter is just so high, that it drowns the signal-articles altogether.

This left Socialite with no real competitive advantage to Reeder. The UI/UX from Reeder somehow better fit my taste. I tried both in parallel for a while and started using only Reeder after a short time. The keyboard navigation in Reeder just works as I expect it. Probably because I use Reeder on iOS for ages, I somehow feel at home in Reeder. So my current setup is having Reeder in fullscreen and switching over to it from time to time. This works great and I’ll keep using it this way for now.

I don’t really want to advice anyone against Socialite. There is nothing wrong with it. Socialite and Reeder are both great apps and priced very fair. You should probably just give both a testrun and see what works best for you.

However, once in a while, probably out of a bad habbit, I still hit my Google Reader shortcut in Safari - and everytime, the looks of it make me shiver away.

I’m a bit annoyed by google for crippling Reader and I am not alone with my oppinion. It seems like google slowly starts losing it with their strong focus on plus. Their services and offerings start to annoy me more and more to the point that I actively look for alternatives. Has anything good come out of the plus-ification of their stuff yet?