This post concerns Google Reader. In it, I will cleanly side-step:
- the recent redesign
- the loss of certain features
- the encroachment of Google+
- the issues around data portability and difficulties surrounding the transfer of former Google Reader social contacts to Google+
No, I'd like to draw a bit of attention to two specific things that Google seemed to have missed with all the recent attention their engineers have been giving to our beloved Reader.
Here's number one: there's no easy way to navigate to the next unread item after marking all items in a folder as read.
I don't know about you, but I use folders for grouping common types of feeds together and I tend to read feeds by folder. For instance, I have a folder for technology news, another for humor, another for world news, and so forth. This allows me to read more important categories of news before I get to the more frivolous stuff in the humor folder.
So, after I finish scanning through a folder for stories to read or star to read later, I will typically hit "Shift+A" to mark all items left in that folder as read. Having done that, I would LIKE to hit the spacebar at this point to take a look at the next unread item that is in a different folder. But, that never works. This is because in this state, Reader refuses to navigate any further. It all of a sudden has become very dumb about navigation and has no clue as to how to get to the next unread item.
Now, check this out. Instead of using "Shift+A" to mark all those items as read, if I were to hit my spacebar to read through each item individually and then reach the end of the items in the folder, hitting the spacebar again WOULD take me to the next folder that contained unread items.
This is how Reader has worked for as long as I remember.
Number two: interestingness.
Something I've been wanting for a long time now is a better way to bubble all the important, interesting things to the top, so I can spend less time sifting through the endless stream of Internet consciousness for the scattered pearls of content. You'd think with all the aspects of a hosted, widely used service like Reader, they'd have the data necessary to pull this off. But no, they apparently don't. (And "Sort by: Magic" doesn't cut it.)
But, they went and acquired a company this past June called PostRank, whose business it was to do exactly this thing. So far, nothing has come of that acquisition. But I'm hopeful that it's coming very, very soon.
So, those are the two things I really would like Google to fix with Reader.