Google: Upcoming changes to Reader and Mail

Today seems to be quite an interesting day at Google. Two major products were part of announcements that made it to the wires today.

First off there is an announcement that makes Google Reader come closer to Google+. But first they are ripping out the social guts of Reader:

As a result of these changes, we also think it’s important to clean things up a bit. Many of Reader’s social features will soon be available via Google+, so in a week’s time we’ll be retiring things like friending, following and shared link blogs inside of Reader.

We think the end result is better than what’s available today, and you can sign up for Google+ right now to start prepping Reader-specific circles. We recognize, however, that some of you may feel like the product is no longer for you. That’s why we will also be extending Reader’s subscription export feature to include the following items. Your data belongs to you, after all, and we want to make sure you can take it with you.

You’ll still be able to share items via Reader’s “Send To” feature. Oh and Google Reader will get a new design – which is really overdue, in case you’re still using the web version and not a client like Reeder. After Google killed Buzz (or rather announced it will do so), I was actually only waiting for such an announcement. It makes sense for Google to put these things together, I just hope this won’t lead to people blindly posting stuff from external sources to Google+. I’m also actually quite happy there’s no officially supported way to directly import your posts from Twitter, etc. It would just lead to people pumping their stuff into Google+ while not actually taking part in discussions, etc.

The second announcement some how got buried, but Google Operating System has the main aspects of the visual changes to Gmail:

A video from Google’s YouTube channel (update: the video is now private, but there’s a mirror here) introduces a new Gmail interface. It’s based on the Preview theme that’s already available in Gmail, but there are many other changes: an action bar that uses icons instead of text labels, a completely new interface for conversations, profile pictures next to contacts, a flexible layout that adapts to any window size, display density options like in Google Docs, resizable chat/labels sections, new high-definition themes and an updated search box that includes advanced options.

I’ve been using the preview theme for quite some time now and while it took a few days to get used to it, I actually like the spacious feeling it offers compared to the older design. I like to use these sort of things right off the bat, because if someone like Google is pushing out these changes it’s usually only a question of time until you have to deal with it and there’s no way back. Oh and yes, I like #newtwitter too and wish I could’ve used it earlier.

By the way: is there anyone who can get me into #newnewtwitter? Would be nice to actually get access to things like this when it’s your job to cover these companies.

One more thing: Street View cars are out, Street View trains are the new thing! I wonder if some farmers are going to ask Google to blur their farms?