Continuing its push into the universe of blogs and feeds, Google has launched a feed reader application. Google Reader is a browser-based application that works with virtually all popular browsers on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.
Google Reader is "the most comprehensive feed finder available," said Jason Shellen, the Google product manager who spearheaded the development of the program. Comprehensive, yes, but Reader also adheres to Google's trademark simple, easy-to-use design philosophy. "We're trying to find an easier find and subscribe model for feeds," said Shellen.
The program features a Google search box at the top which allows you to search for feeds or do an entire web search. Like most other feed readers out there, Google reader has two panes. The left side displays your reading list and the feeds you've subscribed to, and a preview pane on the right allows you to read feed content.
Content can be displayed by relevance or date. Reader also employs algorithms that learn your content preferences and prioritizes content accordingly. This is similar to the auto-discovery feature for news that's part of the Google Sidebar.
Built-in sharing capabilities allow you to email feeds through your Gmail account, or post content to a blog (currently this only works on Google's Blogger-powered blogs). Don't have a Gmail account yet? If you're in the U.S. and have a SMS capable phone, you can sign up for an account by following these instructions.
Google allows you to import your feed subscriptions from other readers, and provide an export mechanism so you can move your Reader subscriptions to another feed reader.
Google just announced the Reader at the Web 2.0 conference, so I haven't had a chance to play around with it yet. I did get a demo of the program last August when I visited Google, and was impressed with what I saw at the time—particularly with the auto-discovery feature that recommended feed content based on what you read. Findory offers a similar service for feeds.
To get Google Reader, visit google.com/reader.
Gary is busy playing with Reader and will post his comments on the program shortly.