San Francisco -- Motivated from the likes of Twitter and Facebook, Google on Wednesday taken a step froward with its awesome RSS reader, the company's online feed aggregation service, with the addition of new social networking features similar to those found on Twitter and Facebook, cementing the nexus between Google profiles and its other services.
Have you ever wondered your feed reader does not socialize? Although Google Reader may be far from perfect but it is utilized by millions of people. Well, it seems like that Google has already given it a keen thought, and while it has had some social features for a while, the possibility to link items for example, is now starting to have a social feature that people may actually use.
With the addition of four new features, Google hopes to empower users with greater control over the content they share and to help users find content shared by others.
Now, when you discover an interesting article that is your most favorite, you can "like" it, decorating it with a smiley face icon below the piece's title. Your selection appears in public, which means others who also subscribes to that feed can experience your bliss, click on your name, and view your Google Profile.
Google launched profile pages for users with a Google Account in April, when it started displaying Google profile results at the bottom of search pages in the U.S. in response to searches for names. The aim of profiles, according to Google, is to give people more control over how they are presented in Google search results.
"Instead of sharing your items with others and hoping they reciprocate, you can now find people with public shared items and subscribe to their shared items with one click. Use our new people search feature to look for people who have public shared items," Jenna Bilotta wrote on the Google Reader blog.
Also included is a search function that enables you to access a variety of Google Profiles. This is a great way to electronically meet people and discover new feeds. It is also a direct rip-off of Twitter -- it allows you to "follow" a person and view their shared items. You can decline the request to follow -- which is useful for when people you do not really like manifest from the woodwork to scope you out.
Reader now allows users to share items with one specific group or multiple groups. Reader's groups mirror Gmail groups, so changes in the one will affect the other.
This Reader update marks an interesting initiative by Google to enter into the realm of social networking. Maybe next it will evolve its rather meager Profiles into something more in-depth and engaging, rather than a pretty blank page with limited public information.
Google surely hopes that such social interaction will encourage the use of its services rather than those of other social networks. However, it would be foolish for even Google to go head-to-head with a Goliath like Facebook -- the results would be embarrassing.