RSS just got a stylish makeover thanks to the Google Labs team. On Wednesday, the search giant debuted the experimental Google Reader Play, giving users a brand new way to view their favorite blog feeds and recommended items from Google users around the world. Combining elements of Reader and Google’s Fast Flip feature, Reader Play is quickly becoming a new way to browse the most popular content on the Internet. With endless content available in one simple location – could Reader Play become the next timesink?
Similar to content discovery communities like StumbleUpon and Digg, Reader Play draws its content from the recommendations of others. When a popular item is shared or “liked” in Google Reader (and now in Reader Play), that content is aggregated into the global Reader Play stream. When Google users are logged in, the content in Reader Play becomes personalized, tailored to their interests based on their RSS subscriptions and shared items. Instead of hitting a button for StumbleUpon or reading through headlines in Digg to find something interesting, Reader Play’s sleek, flip-through interface (think Apple’s cover flow) puts it all up front, and users can browse as fast (or slow) as they’d like – which is where timesink comes in to play.
Last month, Facebook was crowned with the title of the Web’s ultimate timesink. Although Facebook does take up a lot of time, its basic content and actions are pretty limited. The only way to discover something new is if a friend posts it for you to see. With Reader Play, Google could easily take that title away. Reader Play provides endless content, including video, photos, blogs, news, and even podcasts. It’s easy to get carried away and lose track of time while flipping through and exploring your personalized content.
Reader Play features some key elements that Google is continually focused on, specifically innovation, social sharing, and ease of use. Google is always ahead of the curve with its apps, constantly delivering tools to make the online experience easier and enjoyable, and Reader Play is no different. Through Reader Play, Google has found a way to engage users who enjoy the simple, non-technical side of the Internet, while introducing them to some great features they may have been previously unaware of.
Google is consistently developing a personalized user experience, and are the forerunners of the Web intelligence trend. Now, not only does Google personalize your search results, it knows what you like and does the thinking for you. Although Reader Play won’t deliver the latest political headlines, it will give users a fresh take on the Internet and allow them to enjoy their time online. By personalizing the search experience and the Internet experience as a whole, Google is again showing users — and their competition — why they’re number one.