Google joins Bloglines with iPhone version of Reader
Monday Google unveiled yet another beta site. Google Reader is now formatted for the iPhone. iPhone users tired of pinching and stretching and tapping text only links in the normal version of Reader or dealing with the plain Classic mobile version of Reader can head over to http://www.google.com/reader/i/ to check out the new beta site.
With the iPhone-enabled web-app, Google joins Ask.com in the web-based RSS reader marketplace. Ask.com's Bloglines has had an iPhone version available to users since July 19, 2007. iBloglines was created with less than a 1000 lines of code on a lark by an internal developer who bought an iPhone and wanted better access to the site.
The biggest difference between the two sites is the lack of an easy way to get from Google Reader for iPhone to Google Reader for a normal browser. In Bloglines, a user can always choose to deal with the normal desktop browser version of the site via a link to 'Full Bloglines,' but Reader does not appear to have the equivalent link, though Reader does allow a user to transfer to the regular mobile version of the site easily (the mobile non-iPhone Bloglines site pales in comparison to Google).
Also, Google Reader allows the user to see more posts, up to 15 at first, in a feed at a time by keeping the content minimized. Bloglines forces the user to view only 5 posts at a time in the default read view (full entry, summary, or feed determined) and requires a step through process via a 'More Items' button at the bottom of the page. Reader includes a 'mark all as read' link that clears all the unread items from a user's feed. Bloglines does not have this feature via the iPhone without using the full version.
Google Reader's other features include an inline image zoom to show the user full sized images from RSS feeds, show new items only, a Refresh button to reload the current feed, and the regular Google Reader navigation (Starred Items, Shared Items, Friends' Shared Items, and Notes). Users can also load more items from a feed into the current view in 15 item increments via a 'Load More Items' link at the bottom of the current feed view.
Reader also takes advantage of some iPhone web-application methods that weren't in wide use when Blogines was developed, including the AJAXy loading of pages and a more original look and feel of the page than the iPhone OS impersonating Bloglines. But Bloglines was a rush job that could still be improved upon in future releases, even though it has been doing a great job for almost a year now).
Unfortunately, both RSS readers lack an easy way to add feeds via the iPhone. Google requires a user to return to the desktop and Bloglines requires the user transfer to the full version of the site.
Now the only question is: Will Ask.com push a newer and better version of Bloglines for iPhone to compete with Google or will both search engines lose the RSS on iPhone race to NetNewsWire once iPhone 2.0 is released?
Yes, there is an official Apple RSS reader for the iPhone at http://reader.mac.com/mobile/v1/CURRENT_FEED that auto loads when a user tries to goto an RSS url in Mobile Safari, but that is not on the same level as these two applications.