Open Letter: Eight Changes I'd Like to See from Google Reader

[qi:060] After being a devoted (and paying) NewsGator user, I switched over to Google Reader earlier this summer. The service is really very good, though I don’t use the doodads like an automatically generated blog of shared items or graphed trends of my reading habits. But it’s not at all perfect.

I’ve been keeping a list of product requests meant to be emailed to the folks at the Googleplex. Instead, we figured it would be better as an open letter, and you can all submit your suggestions for improving Google Reader as well.

Hi Google Reader team,

Thanks for making a cool service that I use every day. I’d like to humbly suggest a few improvements that would make me even more beholden to you.

1. Refresh feeds more often: My biggest request would just be better performance. It frequently takes half an hour for a new item to be included. This would be the main reason I would switch back to NetNewsWire. Please, please make this better.

2. Accurate timeline: I’d rather have posts be dated when they were published than when they come in. It’s interesting to see how a conversation develops, in the order it actually happened. I’d rather have the time come from the sender than the receiver.

3. Author info: I’d like to see who the author of an item is in the at-a-glance information shown in the compressed view. I read a lot of multi-author outlets.

4. Video section: I think there’s a really great opportunity to be a web-based video aggregator, since you already do a much better job playing embedded video than anyone else I’ve seen. I’d like a dedicated section for video feeds with TV-like controls. Maybe I’m more interested in web video than your average user, but better tools for subscribing to (and also finding and being recommended, while you’re at it) online shows and clips would probably make more people watch them. And when I’m watching a clip and wander off to flip through other items, please don’t stop the video.

5. Folders or tags, pick one: I feel like you haven’t really figured out if you like tags or folders better. That’s not a big deal on a regular basis, but, for instance, I haven’t been able to find a way to rename a folder. Being able to drag and drop feeds into folders would be nice, too, though you don’t have to get too AJAXy for AJAX’s sake.

6. Select, mark read: I do use a set of core folders pretty heavily. I’d like to be able to select a chunk of posts and mark them as read, rather than having to either mark a whole folder or feed as read, or tick each item off one at a time.

7. Better counters: I’m not into this “100+” maximum number of posts in any folder. Can’t you just calculate the actual number? I like to know what I’m up against.

8. Gmail integration: Why aren’t you more tightly integrated with Gmail? An inbox of feeds is really not that different from an inbox of email.

Update: Search. How could I forget! Following performance, this would be my highest-priority feature addition. Like the commenters are saying, how can Google, of all companies, leave out search?

Thanks!