When I first used this crawling, sluggish, OPML choking excuse for a Google sub-domain I was not very impressed. Silly Google, rich clients belong on my hard drive, not in the cloud! Slowly but surely, the product went through a number of revisions which quietly added functionality and tuning. Today, with each account having it’s own built in index, I’d say the product is the best of breed reader. Really the best thing to say is great job to the folks at Google Reader, and it’s quickly becoming better than Google.com as a way to research something you are very familiar with.
You’ve done quite a fantastic job on your product, and you make it important to have a large OPML, where as with other clients, having a very extensive one causes problems. Categorizing your large amount of content becomes important. As of last week, you have graduated from Google Labs, and rightly so, you deserve it, however, I don’t think it’s time to stop improving and I never like to give a pat on the back without some suggestions for improvement.
Improvement Suggestions, Let’s see if you listen!!
- Just as you are planning on integrating many other of your products and API’s into Orkut, I think it would make more sense than anything to add unique functionality that pulls elements of reader into blogger, and blogger into reader. Sure, this isn’t the best way to do serious blogging which is best left to best of breed blogging tools like the Live Writer which I use when I’m using Windows, but by integrating the two you can enable micro-blogging and other quick "Get it off your chest" type blogs, and some blogging can be done from here.
- Google Gears it! What good is Google Reader if you Can’t Read it?
- Add Gtalk into the reader. Sometimes I don’t about the blog about what I’m reading, but I know someone who does, or I want to twit about it. Adding Gtalk would enable me to email another user as well so this could be the one stop shop functionality making the product Viral. Perhaps I want to verify a news source, or verify a fact without leaving an application.
- Add Zimbra Zimlet type features. Perhaps there is a word or subject that I’m reading about that I’d like to get a quick back round on before reading the rest of the story, just so I’m analyzing in an efficient context. Don’t be like the NYT’s and if you click on a word it pops up, make sure the user is holding a shortcut key and or make it launch up in a DHTML window after a right click left click to confirm. Other items which are good just about anywhere are auto parse to Google Maps.
All in all, the offline mode with Google Gears is going to be the most important feature that will get me off of my other hardcore readers. I have faith in the giant Metroid brain in the sky that is Google.