Google on Tuesday added a small but welcomed feature to its Reader service: favicons. These are the little square icons provided by sites that show up both in your address bar and open tabs (in most browsers at least). Google Reader users can now opt in to see them in their feed source list, where previously, feeds just showed up as little blue RSS signal logos. According to Google it was the top requested feature from Google Reader's product ideas mini-site.
In many ways favicons are a logical step in simplifying the feed reading process, since you can now find a particular feed in a long list of sites without even looking at the names. This is especially important since Reader displays feeds out of alphabetical order. However, some might find it to be sensory overload; luckily there's a quick toggle to turn them on and off right form the subscriptions list.
Google's choice of where to put the favicons is a tad strange though. For now, they exist only in the source subscriptions page, and not on the article pages where most of the reading is done. This is most apparent when cruising down a list of mixed items from various sites where users will still have to rely on the site names to identify where the content is coming from.
Also worth noting is that users of the Better GReader Firefox extension by Gina Trapani (formerly of blog Lifehacker) has long had an option to add site favicons to Google Reader's interface.