Posted on 14 March 2013
Yesterday members of the internet were shocked to learn that Google has decided to shut down its RSS Reader service as part of its ongoing “spring cleaning.” As a loyal Reader user for years, I am not happy about this: it is one of my top five most-used websites and probably my second most-used app after my Twitter client (twicca, by the way, which is wonderful). There are alternatives (update: I’m going with Feedly), and smart people like Marco Arment and Dave Winer see this as a positive step, but I’m still surprised. When Google+ came along I expected Google Reader to be sunsetted, but I always thought Google would use Reader to bring people into the Google+ environment. So here, now, is the announcement I thought Google would make. I’m interested if you have a take on my idea, or whether it’s even feasible – @akurjata or the comments section.
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Official Google Blog: Google Reader is Joining Google+
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. But we aren’t leaving you without a place to follow and share your favourite websites- in fact, we’re making it even easier.
Many people were upset when we removed the social features from Google Reader, such as commenting and sharing items with your friends. However, we believe the best place for social activity is inside our ever-growing Google+ environment. It’ s a great place to discover content and contacts who share similar interests- and now it’s going to be even better.
Over the next few weeks, we will be adding a “Reader” tab to your Google+ profile, alongside the tabs for “photos”, “YouTube” and “local reviews.” Like everything in Google+ you have complete control over this data, including who can see it or whether anyone can see it at all. If you share the tab with your friends, they can see which blogs you are subscribed to, and which items you have starred and commented on. You will also be able to share individual items into your main stream, much the same as you can already do from within Reader.
This change will also make your news feed more relevant to your interests. For current Reader users, we will be automatically converting your subscriptions into a brand new Circle titled “Subscriptions.” Now you can view all your favourite blogs and RSS feeds inside our dynamic Google+ environment. If you have subfolders in Google Reader, those will become personal Circles, as well. By default, these Circles will be private, but you have the option to share them with your friends or the public. You can also move subscription sources into other Circles, mixing feeds with friends, pages and celebrities. So you can subscribe to RSS feeds from your favourite music blogs alongside the Google+ pages of bands, or mix your favourite technology writers with RSS feeds from your favourite technology blogs.
This is also good news for writers. We’ve already made it easier for readers to find you in Google searches with our authorship program, and this update will make that even better. Once you’ve claimed ownership of a blog or RSS feed, you can customize the way that information will show up to your subscribers in Google+. You can set up a Google+ page for your blog, and whenever you write a new post, it will automatically be pushed onto the pages news feed using RSS. You can choose whether readers inside of Google+ see the full post, or just a preview directing them to visit your site for more. The image associated with posts will automatically be drawn for the Open Graph information on your page, as will the description. We will be rolling this feature out slowly- stay tuned to our blog for more information as it happens.
We know these changes will benefit readers and writers alike as we make the internet more social, and make it easier to discover and track the content that matters to you. Of course, if you ever want to switch to a different service you can do so using Google takeout.
These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help in their lives.
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