Bloglines vs. Google Reader

2:48 pm PHT

This is part 1 of a two-part special on web-based feed aggregators. See part 2.

I had been using Bloglines as my feed reader/aggregator since 2003 before I completely switched over to Google Reader a few months ago. I tried Google Reader early last year but it didn’t stick with me then. What made me decide to switch now? I got sick and tired of the way Bloglines marked every unread item as read when selecting a feed. If you neglect to check your feeds for a while and one of them adds tons of new items, you’d be forced to invest a lot of time to catch up on that feed if you don’t want to miss anything.

So I tried Google Reader again and found the way it handles unread items, especially in list view mode, very much acceptable. Ironically, for a search engine company, Google’s feed reader didn’t have a search functionality and that’s the biggest problem I had with it, and it was undeniably the most requested feature among Google Reader users. But since I read more often than I search, I learned to live with it instead of going back to Bloglines.

Enter Bloglines Beta. Bloglines, after a long, long time, released a new (beta) slicker user interface at the end of August. I loved their new 3-pane view, similar to desktop e-mail applications, and the interface was more pleasing than the “classic” version overall. More importantly, they fixed the single biggest UI flaw I had with them. Unfortunately, it was too late for Bloglines; Google Reader had completely bought me by then, especially when the interface was applied with Jon Hickson’s excellent OS X-inspired Google Reader theme leading to a pleasurable feed reading experience. (Jon Hicks is the one who designed the Mozilla Firefox logo.)

Moreover, exactly one week after Bloglines Beta was released, Google upped the ante by acceding to its users’ request to add a search feature to Google Reader. This completely demolished any mid-term chance for me to switch back to Bloglines, especially since their Beta interface still had some kinks in it. Sorry Bloglines, Google has bought more of my soul now.  :)

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