As previously announced, Google is rolling out a sleek new design and pulling the plug on Reader's social features at the end of the day on Monday. The new Google Reader matches the recently jazzed up design of Google Search, Google Docs and Google News — not to mention this leaked preview of a Gmail redesign. Feature-wise, there's tighter integration with Google+, including the addition of +1 buttons that are replacing the old "Like" feature. Much to the dismay of a small but passionate community of Google Reader fanatics known as Sharebros, however, Google is also removing the classic Reader sharing features in order to integrate more content into Google+.
Integrating with Google+ also helps us streamline Reader overall. So starting today we'll be turning off friending, following, shared items and comments in favor of similar Google+ functionality.
We hope you'll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not. Retiring Reader's sharing features wasn't a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google.
The immediate reaction from the Sharebro community was dour. "This is the 11,142nd and last item I'll ever share on Google Reader," said Zach Seward, a Wall Street Journal editor on Google Reader. "Goodbye my favorite social network." Joe Hackett tweeted, "The Google Reader Update is here. Prepare yourselves, friends. This is the end of days." Others liked the design. Joshua Talley called it "Eye candy for RSS lovers" on Twitter. "Google Reader looks different," tweeted Jason Urgo. "Seems to mostly be just a color scheme change though. Functionality that I at least use is still there."
But for the Sharebros, the functionality that they used is gone. (If you're a Sharebro, try this complicated process of setting up Reader Circles to recreate the experience.) They're a resourceful bunch, though, and are already working on an open-sourced, freshly designed replacement.