Bloglines has launched a vast improvement to their popular RSS reader in a beta format at beta.bloglines.com. Any Bloglines users are able to access the new beta at this time.
1. They’ve improved the colors. It’s less painful than the previous colors and better contrast for important features on the page like headlines.
2. “Mark as Read” through scrolling. This is a HUGE improvement, and is one of the main reasons I switched to Google Reader. If a folder contained, say, 50 unread items in the past, clicking on that folder would immediately open all 50 items and mark them all at read regardless of whether you saw even a headline. Now stories move from unread to read status as they pass off the screen.
3. Custom start page. Similar to other custom homepages like Google’s, you can stick your most important feeds right on the homepage so the most recent headlines from those feeds will be the first thing you see when logging in.
4. Dynamic feed organizing. Click and drag feeds between folders without having to switch over into an edit mode.
5. Three feed viewing options. View full feeds one at a time, multiple feeds within a folder in boxes of headlines, or in a 3-pane view where headlines run near the top of the page with stories below. Similar to an email inbox layout.
Overall, this looks like a great piece of work by Bloglines. They’ve caught up to Google Reader in some important areas, including a huge improvement to read status. And they’ve come out with a few new features of their own including the 3-pane viewing option.
Nice work, Bloglines.