Digg is rolling out invites for their new news reader service today, and mine arrived late last night. I was one of the many people who responded to Digg’s surveys, and it looks like those of us who participated are being let in first.
Digg announced plans to launch a news reader service only days after Google announced the Readerpocalypse in March, and it’s pretty clear that they started almost from scratch and did their best to incorporate the feedback from the several surveys they conducted over the past few months.
To put it simply, Digg Reader isn’t ready.
While Digg might claim that the service was targeted at hard-core users, this news junkie considers Digg Reader to be unusable. Digg’s last minute entry into the news reader niche is missing a number of key features including search, basic organization, and filtering/sorting.
I suppose it’s not fair to bash Digg Reader for the missing search option given that few of its competition offer this feature, but I still think it’s worth noting that Digg Reader won’t let you search through the feeds you follow, have read, or have saved. This is an important feature and its absence is always worthy of a comment.
But the shortcomings in basic organization, well, that’s a different matter. Digg deserves to be bitch-slapped for the ham-handed way they have the feeds displayed in the left panel. Rather than show the folders before the unsorted feeds, Digg Reader has them interspersed, resulting in many of the frequently updated folders being pushed off the bottom of the screen by infrequently updated feeds, some of which have not had new content in years.
Oh, and did I mention that I can’t hide the feeds and folders that don’t have new content? The lack of a basic filtering by itself renders Digg Reader unusable, IMO.
The gray theme also presents a number of subtle problems. For example, the like, bookmark, and other post options are gray icons on a gray background. It’s not always easy to see when you’ve clicked one. But on the plus side once you’ve saved a post it can be found again in the saved section. Digg also imported all my saved posts from GR, which is nice.
And it’s not all bad. Digg Reader does offer a reading view that is somewhat improved over Google Reader. It’s not the pop-out reading window that some news readers offer, but it is clean and more pleasant to read than GR.
When your invite for Digg Reader arrives, I suggest that you spend a few minutes playing with it.
Then go back to whatever news reader you were using before. Digg Reader is not worth adopting today, and based on its current functionality I don’t think it will be worth using for a couple months.
On a related note, the Digg app for iPad and iPhone are supposed to be updated today or tomorrow with the new Digg Reader. It might be worth keeping an eye out.