interface in Google Reader's final version
|Initial release||October 7, 2005|
|Development status||Closure planned for July 1, 2013|
|Platform||Web browsers, Android|
|Type||Web feed reader|
Google Reader is a content application and platform provided by Google that is an aggregator of content served by web feeds. It was created in early 2005 by Google engineer Chris Wetherell and launched on October 7, 2005, through Google Labs. Google Reader grew in popularity to support a number of apps which use it as a platform for serving news and information to people. On March 13, 2013, Google announced that Google Reader will be closed on July 1, 2013, due to declining use.
In early 2001, software engineer Chris Wetherell began a project he called "JavaCollect" that served as a news portal based on web feeds. After working at Google he began a similar project with a small team that launched an improved product on October 7, 2005, as Google Reader.
On September 1, 2006, Google Reader announced a redesign that included new features such as unread counts, the ability to "mark all as read", a new folder-based navigation, and an expanded view so people could quickly scan over several items at once. This also marked the addition of a sharing feature, which allowed readers to publish interesting items for other people to see.
On January 30, 2007, announced the inclusion of video content from YouTube and Google Video.
Reader's interface evolved several times from an early version, described by a Google designer who helped work on the revision as a "river" of news, to various experiences optimized for a wide range of devices, from browsers to the Wii video game console.
In late 2008, Google Reader had a significant upgrade to its user experience and design. Led by Google designer Jenna Bilotta, the interface now included a cleaner visual style, collapsible navigation, "Friends" navigation, the ability to hide unread counts, and feed bundles.
A example of some of the features of Google Reader as of 2013[update] include:
- a front page that lets you see new items at a glance
- automatic marking of items as read as they are scrolled past (expanded view only)
- keyboard shortcuts for main functions
- choice between list view or expanded view for item viewing (showing either just the story title or including a description, respectively)
- import and export subscription lists as an OPML file
- search in all feeds, across all updates from subscriptions
The interface evolved again on October 31, 2011, as part of the visual redesign of all Google products in 2011. Former social features ("share" and "like" buttons) were removed and replaced by Google+'s +1 button and the "share on Google+" box. These changes have been received unfavorably by some online blogs and technology journalists, including former Google Reader product manager Brian Shih and former Google Reader lead designer Kevin Fox, and by journalists in Wired, Forbes, CNET, and InformationWeek. Over 140,000 users have signed an online petition asking Google to reinstate the original interface.
Users can subscribe to feeds using either Google Reader's search function, or by entering in the exact URL of the RSS or Atom feed. New posts from those feeds are then shown on the left-hand side of the screen. One can then order that list by date or relevance. Items can also be organized with labels, as well as being able to create "Starred Items" for easy access.
From 2007 to 2011, items in Google Reader could be shared with other Web users. Previously this was done by sending a link through e-mail, directing the user to the shared article; or by creating a basic webpage that includes all shared items from a user's account. In December 2007, Google changed the sharing policy so that items the user marked as shared were automatically visible to their Google Talk contacts. Users criticized this change because there is no way to opt out. The URL for a user's page of shared items contains a random string, and Google originally advertised this as a way to limit sharing to only those people to whom you give the address.
Google removed the sharing functionality built into Reader on October 31, 2011, and replaced it with a Google+ +1 button. Users criticized this change because it effectively dismantled existing social networks that had formed around these features and disabled sharing and publishing functions that served as a communications medium for Iranians seeking news sources that couldn't be blocked by the government.
Offline access 
Google Reader was the first application to make use of Google Gears, a browser extension that lets online applications work offline. Users who have installed the extension can download up to 2000 items to be read offline. After coming back online, Google Reader updates the feeds. Google Reader stopped supporting this feature on June 1, 2010.
Mobile access 
A mobile interface was released on May 18, 2006. It now[when?] can be used by devices that support XHTML or WAP 2.0. On May 12, 2008, Google announced a version of Google Reader targeted at iPhone users. On December 2010, Google released a Google Reader app for Android, available from the Android Market. In March 2013, Google announced that Google Reader will be closed on July 1, 2013, due to declining usage.
Mozilla integration 
On March 10, 2010, Google announced and released Google Reader Play. Play presents a slideshow interface which displays popular items one at a time. These items are drawn from assorted sites' feeds, and their appearance in Play is based on the data provided by Reader users' responses, e.g., how many people liked or shared the item. Unlike Google Reader, a Google Account is not required to access Play.
On March 13, 2013, Google announced they were discontinuing Google Reader, stating the product had a loyal but declining following, and they wanted to focus on fewer products. They gave users a sunset period until July 1, 2013 to move their data and suggested: "If you want to retain your Reader data, including subscriptions, you can do so through Google Takeout."
In response to the planned closure, Digg also announced plans to build a Google Reader replacement, rebuilding its API and adding features to take advantage of the implicit recommendations of social network activity.
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