Google Reader, redesigned with Google+ sharing

November 1, 2011

Google Reader is the latest Google product to get a makeover and now can 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.

It’s no secret that longtime users of the RSS reader were not happy about the changes made to their favorite Google product, going to Google’s DC office to protest in a small “Occupy Google Reader” rally. The changes also raised concerns from Iranian users who were able to use the service to get around government censorship of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, The Washington Post reported. Users in Iran had taken advantage of the sharing and used the notes feature as a blogging platform.

In a company blog post, Google software engineer Alan Green wrote that getting rid of Google Reader’s old sharing features “wasn’t a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google.”

For those Reader users who aren’t happy with the changes, Green offered the subscription export feature, which will let users take their data from the service to a new reader.

While there is more integration with Google+, it still needs some work to come into its own. Also, Google still hasn’t integrated Reader into the Sparks features. That means there’s still no one-stop Google site for news and social.

The new interface, reminiscent of Gmail’s new design, is a welcome change for the app, which was in dire need of a makeover.

Related stories:

Occupy Google Reader: Changes to the RSS feed irk the ‘sharebros’

Google says Gmail getting a makeover

Google Plus, now for everyone

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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