As you may have already noticed, Google Reader has been updated. It's gotten a new look, in tune with the rest of Google, and, more importantly, it slashed all of its social features and replaced them with Google+.
As you may have expected, both changes riled up a lot of people, some rightfully so, most because it's the thing you do when a site updates.
In the looks department, the criticism is somewhat warranted. While the new Google Reader definitely looks better at first glance, it is a usability nightmare.The new Google Reader is not very good for, well, reading
For starters, a lot of space is wasted in order to conform to the unified Google look and the universal header Google is moving towards.
The article list is a lot more spaced out as well, again following the new Google design, but this means you get much fewer entries in a page before you have to scroll.
But the biggest problem with the visual update is the indiscriminate use of gray and black. Basically, everything on the site, titles, links, folders, is either black or gray.
Reading an article with a lot links is quite a pain, something that shouldn't be the case for a product that's made for 'reading' as the name would suggest.
So far, it seems that most people aren't too keen to the new interface, but it may be just their initial reaction.
With a few tweaks, for example a compact look and bringing back some blue shades for titles and links, the new design will be an improvement over the previous one.
Dropping Google Reader's native social features has some people upset
However, those complaining about the Google+ integration have no such luck, it's here to stay. Previous to the new version, Google reader had several social features built in, like friends, followers, comments, likes and sharing.
They weren't used by that many people, but the ones that did are very upset about the switch to Google+.
The problem is more serious for users in Iran which used Reader to bypass the internet censorship in the country and to build an ad hoc social network, since Facebook, Twitter and almost everything else is blocked in the country.
"We hope you'll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not," Google said in its announcement of the new Reader, acknowledging that some people may not like the update very much.
"Retiring Reader's 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," Google said.
Plenty of people are upset, though most over the visual changes, but the new Google Reader is here to stay. You can expect some visual tweaks, perhaps an easier way to share stuff, but the old social features are not coming back. Of course, you can join an internet petition
to save the old reader. It has almost 10,000 signatures at this point and online petitions always work.