Since I've been working on Google Reader, I've told a lot of my friends about how great it is. And while some of them try Reader and find it really useful, many of them aren’t interested in taking the time to get Reader set up. That’s why today, I’m happy to announce an experimental product from the Google Reader team that makes the best stuff in Reader more accessible for everyone, while giving Reader users a new way to view their feeds. It’s called Google Reader Play, and it’s a new way to browse interesting stuff on the web that’s easy to use and personalized to the things you like. Best of all, there’s no set-up required: visit google.com/reader/play to give it a try.
In Google Reader Play, items are presented one at a time, and each item is big and full-screen. After you've read an item, just click the next arrow to move to the next one, or click any item on the filmstrip below to fast-forward. Of course, you can click the title or image of any item to go to the original version. And since so much of the good stuff online is visual, we automatically enlarge images and auto-play videos full-screen.
Reader Play adapts to your tastes -- as you browse, you can let us know which stuff you enjoy by clicking the "like" button, and we'll use that info to show you more items we think you'll like. If you want, you can also choose categories, and we'll personalize your stream to only show you stuff from those categories. And you don't even need a Google account to use Reader Play. Of course, if you want to star, like, or share items, we'll ask you to sign in to your Google account. Since Reader and Reader Play share the same infrastructure, any actions you take in one will be reflected in the other.
You might be wondering where we find all the awesome stuff in Reader Play. It uses the same technology as the Recommended Items feed in Reader to identify and aggregate the most interesting items on the web. If you sign in, Reader Play will also be personalized with items that people you’re following have shared in Google Reader, and items similar to ones you’ve previously liked, starred, or shared.
Since Reader Play is an experiment, it’s launching in Google Labs for now. To be clear, Reader Play isn't intended to replace Google Reader: both Google Reader and Reader Play are about finding and reading interesting stuff online. In essense, Reader Play is a different view of Reader. It's designed to be a fun and easy way to browse interesting items, while Reader is a highly customizable way to organize your feeds, keep track of what you've read, and much more. In Reader, you can switch to this view by clicking "View in Reader Play" from the feed settings menu.