Of all the apps and services in Google's catalog, Google Reader must be one of the most ignored. The interface hasn't gotten a major upgrade in years, and the product itself feels stale, with few changes or additions to speak of since it was launched.
To put it simply, Google Reader is a mess.
There are just links, text, and widgets everywhere, formatted into random frames that resemble leftovers from the Internet five to six years ago. Considering that most of the rest of the Google Apps suite (that is, Calendar, Docs, and soon Gmail, etc.) have all gotten new designs in the last few months, Google Reader must be asking where has its facelift been for years.
The time has finally come...or at least in the next week. Google has announced that Reader will be introducing a brand-new design following some "some highly requested changes." (Sheesh, thank you. It's about time!)
But what probably brought the change about even more was Google's interest in integrating Google+ throughout its products to unify the platform.
So say goodbye to friending, following, and shared link blogs inside of Google Reader. Instead, Reader will be receiving social features courtesy of Google+. However, Google will allow users to export old data, consisting of subscriptions, shared items, friends, likes, and starred items.
Google also promises that the "end result is better than what's available today," which can't be that hard to achieve.
If all goes well, Google Reader might become relevant again. Otherwise, it could likely end up on the chopping block as Google Buzz and Labs did recently.
This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Google Reader attempts to stay relevant with Google+ help."