Google Reader changes for the better

I used Google Reader several times yesterday, as I’ve been doing for the past several months, keeping track of the feeds I like to read. Then I read this entry on the Google Blog, telling us that they’ve just launched a new version of the Reader. When did that happen? Wow, that was quick! They launched a brand new version in just a few hours, propagating the change across all their servers.

The new version is much better than the previous one — which worked great, don’t get me wrong — but was not as polished and easy to use. The major changes in this version are obvious: all of the feeds are listed nicely in the left column, and if new items are available, the feed title is bolded and the new items are counted in parentheses. The text formatting for the feed items is also much nicer.

Another cool feature is the Share option, which lets you mark feed items for sharing, and puts them onto a separate page, all your own, with a feed that people can subcribe to. That’s cool! So I don’t have to Star the items that I use, then copy and paste the OPML onto my blog. Now I can just manipulate the feed and display it as I want, wherever I want. But I see that the option to share my starred or tagged items has disappeared. Where did it go? Is it gone for good? (If it has, that’s a bummer, and I’d like it back.)

Finally, I see that the Email feature has been placed next to the Add star and Share options, and the “Blog This!” option has been taken away. If you’re not familiar with it, it would let you blog about a feed item right in your Blogger account. But people didn’t bother to edit the entries, instead choosing the leave the form fields pre-filled with a quote from the post. They’d hit the Publish button, instantly turning their blog into a splog. I can see why Google did away with this.

All in all, a good, solid upgrade. I’m looking forward to using the new Google Reader on a daily basis from now on.