I’m an avid user of Google Reader because it’s fast and straightforward. Unfortunately the layout is a bit boring. The problem with a boring layout is that you can end up missing posts either because there is no pic to catch your attention or you fell asleep.
While I was in Istanbul I tried feedly. It works as a Chrome extension and uses your Google Reader feeds (so no need to import the feeds, they’re all there). It lays out RSS posts with a picture, a title and a preview text. Several layouts are available, digest, cover, popular and latest, all using some obscure algorithm to display a subset of the posts available in your RSS feeds. The result is visually appealing and the keyboard shortcuts are similar to those in Google Reader.
The digest layout (notice how you get some Kandinsky-like abstract painting when a picture is not available from the post):
The cover layout:
Compare that with the equivalent Google Reader layout:
Google maps for mobile
At last, the latest version of Google maps for Windows mobile is what it should have been at the beginning: the places you save in My Maps on the desktop appear on your mobile. The places you create as starred items on the phone appear on the desktop. It’s good because I create starred items on my phone whenever I walk past a restaurant I want to remember. But until this new version of Google Maps I couldn’t save them in the cloud, which was a bit daft.
So on the mobile Google maps you can now display layers. A layer can be anything: your saved maps, saved searches, maps of favorites places by famous people, your friends on latitude, tube lines… There is a Wikipedia layer that displays an icon on places related to a geolocated article and a Buzz layer that displays icons where people left a buzz message…
New Bing maps
The new bing maps available at www.bing.com/maps/explore work with Silverlight and are clearly faster than Google maps. Try bringing up London in two chrome sessions side by side, one with Google and one with Bing. It’s pretty obvious: panning, zooming in and zooming out feels faster and more fluid with Bing.
The map apps are pretty good: there is a Restaurants finder that works really well (at least for London that is) and a Twitter Map to display geolocated tweets on the current map in real time. Today’s front pages is exciting if you’re into worldwide news.
Currently the data in the new Bing lags behind… For instance the Restaurant Finder didn’t have anything to show for Dublin or Istanbul. But in terms of functionality, it’s very promising.
This is some of the available Map apps:
The Restaurants finder with category filtering:
The Ordnance Survey maps are not displayed in the new Bing maps apparently. However they still are in the normal bing maps maps.bing.com. It still blows my mind that the raster version of those 1/25000 maps (those that cost you an arm and two legs at the bookshop) are up there for free.