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Faster Forward
Posted at 05:57 PM ET, 11/01/2011

Today in Tech: Google Reader redesign, Gmail on the iPhone

Here’s a recap of today’s tech news:

Google Reader gets a redesign: Google Reader is the latest Google product to get made over. In Reader, you can now hook your recommendations and shared items into Google+, the company’s social network. Users can now “+1” their items, instead of “like” them and share the items in their Google+ circles instead of to their Google Reader followers. That integration comes at the expense of the old version’s social features. Reader users will have to make a new circle on Google+ to share items with their old Reader friends. They will also have to use the +1 button to share items from outside the service’s site. Slashgear points out that Reader users who used nicknames will also have to give up their aliases (for now) in order to use the new features.

Gmail changes, possible iPhone app: Gmail also got a revamp, redesigning the way it handles conversations, giving users the option to change the density of the display and adding search features.

The company may have one more trick up its sleeve, however. Tech writer MG Siegler is reporting that Gmail app for the iPhone is just about to drop, pending approval from Apple’s App store.

Apple characteristically silent on battery issues: Apple still hasn’t spoken up about customer reports of quickly draining batteries on the iPhone 4S. Since the phone went on sale last month, there’s been a growing swell of complaints that the handset is losing battery life at very high rates, with hundreds reporting that they can’t make it through a day without having to recharge their phones. Some have suggested that the iPhone 4S’s faster processor may be to blame for the added drain.

Reports, however, are not restricted to the iPhone 4S, indicating that it may be a software issue and not a hardware issue. Apple also pushed out iOS 5, its latest operating system, right before the iPhone launch. Users who upgraded their iPhone 4 units to the new operating system have reported similar battery issues. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the issue.

Amazon flips switch on Black Friday site: Amazon has started the countdown to Black Friday with the launch of a special section on its Web site. In case you’re wondering, you have 19 days to the biggest shopping day of the year, and the online retail giant isn’t wasting time jumping into the holiday fray. The site is already offering early deals on electronics, movies and other items, as well as teasing mystery deals that will go live over the next few days. Amazon isn’t the only retailer that’s getting into the holiday spirit early: Best Buy announced last week that it is offering free shipping on everything from its Web site, with no minimum. Target, Macy’s and Kohl’s have all announced they’ll open their doors at midnight.

Twitter stories show social media’s impact: In its five-year history, Twitter’s been used for inane updates on what was breakfast, as a vehicle for real-time news and as a way to spread revolutionary social ideas. On Tuesday, the service launched a new site, “Twitter Stories,” to share a handful of stunning ways that the micro-blogging service has made a positive impact on people’s lives.

The stories range from the heartwarming story of a son who saved his mother’s bookstore with a tweet, to the bone-chilling tale of a man who relied on Twitter for help when snipers entered his backyard in Tunisia. The site even features the story of one man who found a kidney donor after tweeting, “[expletive], I need a kidney.”

The company said it will update the site with new stories every month.

By  |  05:57 PM ET, 11/01/2011

 
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