Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows.
The second and more obvious change, is that someone took the magic color-removing wand and drenched the whole page in grey. It’s so unbelievably stark, it’s hard to imagine a more desolate experience. Even G+ has blue links for post titles. Blue titles are good enough for Google search. Reader, which is built entirely around posts with titles, does away with this in the name of the almighty grey god.
The only thing left with any color of consequence it the obscenely red subscribe button in the top left, which in keeping with the spirit of prioritizing the exactly wrong thing – you don’t even need to use very often.
There plenty of other areas to nitpick like the fact that there’s no separation between the reading pane and the subscriptions panel, that the active post you’re reading no longer pops out as much as before, and the extra padding crammed into the subscriptions list – but the old interface wasn’t perfect either, though it was designed around satisfying the primary use case of reading. In any case, I only have so much time, and need to save my rage for the next section of even more egregious changes.
– Brian Shih, Reader redesign: Terrible decision, or worst decision?
I think that Google reader now looks like the back of an organic cereal box. Go read all of Brian’s comments.
The UI decisions just don’t seem to make sense. And the integration with Google+ seems to break privacy:
Keep in mind that on top of requiring 3-4 times as many clicks, you also now must +1 a post publicly to share it, even if it’s shared to a private circle. That bears repeating. The next time you want to share some sexy halloween costumes with your private set of friends, you first must publicly +1 the post, which means it shows up on your profile, plus wherever the hell G+ decides to use +1 data. So much for building a network around privacy controls.
The frustrating thing is that these pitfalls could have been avoided through a more thought out integration. As Kevin Fox has already pointed out, Google could have easily made it so that sharing was pushed through G+ (therefore giving providing content on G+, and gaining all the benefits of an integration), but also replaced shared items from People You Follow with a Reader-specific Circle.
But no – instead, they’ve ripped out the ability to consume shared items wholesale from the product. The closest analogue might be if Twitter made it so that 3rd party clients could use the Retweet functionality to push Retweets to a user’s stream – but only allowed you to consume Retweets on twitter.com.
It’s almost as if Google wants to demonstrate that, yes, they don’t really get platforms. Instead of improving the G+ API to support Reader as a fully functional 3rd party client (a la Twitter), they’ve instead crippled the product under the guise of improvements.