The worst iPhone Web page: Google Reader (UPDATED)

OK, Patrick and me have visited hundreds of Web pages on the iPhone. You should have seen us at Target today where we were buying new jeans cause Patrick ripped his waiting in line for the iPhone. “Can I visit Facebook?” “Hey, give me my iPhone back.” Generally I like reading on this device. It’s a lot better than my Nokia on most Web pages. Most people will recognize instantly why when they first get shown an iPhone: it’s the same Web that you see on your desktop Web browser, not a colorless text-focused “mobile version.”

There ARE problems with the iPhone and the Web, to be sure. For instance when you first visit a Web page it’s totally unreadable so you need to double-tap on a part of the page to get it zoomed in enough to read it. When showing people the device yesterday many people didn’t understand how to double-tap. So the iCult reeducation begins.

I notice that both Patrick and me also do the “manual zoom” too. You know, put both of your fingers onto the Web page, er iPhone’s screen, and spread them apart which will zoom in even more.

There’s a few problems, though. When you double-tap it takes you into the column you’re double-tapping on. That’s great. But then you start using your finger to drag down the column so you can read it. But it’s way too sensitive. Going up and down is fun, but it’s very easy to move off of the column so that the screen shows half of one column of text and half of another. That slows down reading time.

Also we’re now back to all the readability problems that plague the “normal Web.” Someone put dark text on a dark background? Ala MySpace pages? Even harder to read on the iPhone, particularly if you’re in bright sunlight trying to read Web pages.

Anyway, there’s one kind of page that REALLY sucks: one that forces you to see its mobile version.

Google Reader is the worst offender here. The Google Reader that you’ll see on your iPhone really, really, really sucks.

Can I detail how much it sucks?

1) Can’t see full text of anything. What the f***?!? On a computer this is really frustrating. On an iPhone? Unusable. Especially if you have Edge network. Why? Cause to read anything I have to poke and wait and wait and wait then back and wait and wait and wait.
2) No river of news. Not like on the desktop. The desktop version of Google News shows an infinite number of items. You just keep scrolling down to see more items. The phone version forces you to see 10 items and then click next. Really interferes with reading speed.
3) No sharing of items. Um, the #1 reason I switched to Google Reader from NewsGator is its sharing capabilities.
4) No way to see a folder view of your feeds. Just a “lame view.”

Google, please fix this ASAP. It’s an embarrassment. Please allow me to view the full Google Reader on my iPhone. Stop trying to guess what version would be best for me. Stop removing features from your mobile apps without giving your customers some choices. I haven’t come across any Web page that’s nearly as bad as Google Reader.

Keep in mind I LOVE Google Reader on the desktop.

How about you? What about surfing the Web on the iPhone is frustrating you?

Oh, and I have verified. No Flash, no Java, no Silverlight, no Adobe PDF. UPDATE: PDFs are supported, don’t know why I thought I couldn’t look at those.

UPDATE: I was visiting http://reader.google.com which was redirecting to the Mobile Version. But George said I just needed to visit http://www.google.com/reader/view/ , which works great!

So, I take it all back. Weird.

Comments

  1. Is it really Google Reader that is the problem or IPhone? I would bet it is not Google Reader? How is it on other phones? I am having my husband check his 8525 and see what he gets on that, but maybe you should have done more research and just not expected it to look and act like another, smaller desktop/laptop. Not realistic, now is it?

  2. Is it really Google Reader that is the problem or IPhone? I would bet it is not Google Reader? How is it on other phones? I am having my husband check his 8525 and see what he gets on that, but maybe you should have done more research and just not expected it to look and act like another, smaller desktop/laptop. Not realistic, now is it?

  3. It’s Google Reader’s problem. Not the iPhone. I did do the research. Thanks for noticing.

    Google Reader on mobile phones sucks. It sucks on my Nokia too.

  4. It’s Google Reader’s problem. Not the iPhone. I did do the research. Thanks for noticing.

    Google Reader on mobile phones sucks. It sucks on my Nokia too.

  5. Robert, have you tried the RSS reader that Apple has put up?
    If not, the link is http://reader.mac.com/
    Would you be so kind as to take a look and tell us iphoneless people if it is any good?

  6. Robert, have you tried the RSS reader that Apple has put up?
    If not, the link is http://reader.mac.com/
    Would you be so kind as to take a look and tell us iphoneless people if it is any good?

  7. Google Reader is the same on any mobile device not just IPhone. On the 8525, my husband says that no problem viewing or reading at all. He doesn’t have to scroll back and forth or anything. No issues getting to the reader either, just like being on the next here at home, no more than a few seconds. I would rather plug the 8525 and wait for the next gen IPhone, see how it shakes out. Seems like they have work to do.

  8. Google Reader is the same on any mobile device not just IPhone. On the 8525, my husband says that no problem viewing or reading at all. He doesn’t have to scroll back and forth or anything. No issues getting to the reader either, just like being on the next here at home, no more than a few seconds. I would rather plug the 8525 and wait for the next gen IPhone, see how it shakes out. Seems like they have work to do.

  9. I broke down and got an iPhone last night. I never expected much from the browsing so I guess it hasn’t let me down. Outlook Web Access worked fined which was nice. I like being able to slide the page all over the screen while reading. Unfortunately I have been bringing an ERP system online this weekend and haven’t surfed enough with the phone.

    Typing hasn’t bothered me much either. It is quite different from a blackberry, but when I started that keyboard 7 years ago I sucked with it. The learning curve on the iPhone will be fast.

  10. On my 2125 Google Reader looks the same as it does on the iPhone. Crappy. It’s pretty obvious your husband doesn’t use Google Reader if he thinks it’s fine.

  11. I broke down and got an iPhone last night. I never expected much from the browsing so I guess it hasn’t let me down. Outlook Web Access worked fined which was nice. I like being able to slide the page all over the screen while reading. Unfortunately I have been bringing an ERP system online this weekend and haven’t surfed enough with the phone.

    Typing hasn’t bothered me much either. It is quite different from a blackberry, but when I started that keyboard 7 years ago I sucked with it. The learning curve on the iPhone will be fast.

  12. On my 2125 Google Reader looks the same as it does on the iPhone. Crappy. It’s pretty obvious your husband doesn’t use Google Reader if he thinks it’s fine.

  13. MsSexyPants. I just tried it. The experience there was TOTALLY unsatisfying. Here’s what it says.

    If you like to view an RSS feed just enter the feed URL directly into Safari’s address bar.

    OK, now, that’s ALL it says on the screen. Where the hell is the address bar? And normal people are supposed to do this? How?

    Let’s go over this again. You can’t copy and paste URLs on the iPhone. This means you’ve got to click on an RSS feed (who does that anymore, Google Reader lets me add them automatically?) Write down the URL. Retype it into Safari’s address bar somewhere. And pray it all works.

    Do these engineers even use their own products? Please.

  14. MsSexyPants. I just tried it. The experience there was TOTALLY unsatisfying. Here’s what it says.

    If you like to view an RSS feed just enter the feed URL directly into Safari’s address bar.

    OK, now, that’s ALL it says on the screen. Where the hell is the address bar? And normal people are supposed to do this? How?

    Let’s go over this again. You can’t copy and paste URLs on the iPhone. This means you’ve got to click on an RSS feed (who does that anymore, Google Reader lets me add them automatically?) Write down the URL. Retype it into Safari’s address bar somewhere. And pray it all works.

    Do these engineers even use their own products? Please.

  15. I’ve been using the mobile version for months on an 8525. This is essentially the same as what you see on the iPhone. They seem to have made some cosmetic enhancements specific to the iPhone though. That combined with the screen resolution make the iPhone experience on Google Reader much better than on the 8525.

    However, I agree the problems are plenty. I don’t believe going to the full version is the answer. Some enhancements to the mobile version should do it. In many cases actually prefer mobile websites even on the iPhone. For example mobile.nytimes.com is much better than the full version. One of the biggest problem with the mobile Google Reader is the fact that external websites ALWAYS go through the mobilizer. This can be changed for mobile search in preferences hu doesnt work in reader. Lame.

  16. I’ve been using the mobile version for months on an 8525. This is essentially the same as what you see on the iPhone. They seem to have made some cosmetic enhancements specific to the iPhone though. That combined with the screen resolution make the iPhone experience on Google Reader much better than on the 8525.

    However, I agree the problems are plenty. I don’t believe going to the full version is the answer. Some enhancements to the mobile version should do it. In many cases actually prefer mobile websites even on the iPhone. For example mobile.nytimes.com is much better than the full version. One of the biggest problem with the mobile Google Reader is the fact that external websites ALWAYS go through the mobilizer. This can be changed for mobile search in preferences hu doesnt work in reader. Lame.

  17. Robert,

    So you’re saying that Google’s servers are forcing you onto the GReader mobile page? I would think with the “full internet” Safari on the iPhone, you would be able to go to the regular google.com/reader/view page. That’s not the case?

    Before I switched to using GReader instead of Bloglines, I do remember being able to switch from the “Mobile” to the “Full” version of Bloglines in Opera Mobile using my Nokia 6682.

  18. Robert,

    So you’re saying that Google’s servers are forcing you onto the GReader mobile page? I would think with the “full internet” Safari on the iPhone, you would be able to go to the regular google.com/reader/view page. That’s not the case?

    Before I switched to using GReader instead of Bloglines, I do remember being able to switch from the “Mobile” to the “Full” version of Bloglines in Opera Mobile using my Nokia 6682.

  19. Ricky: yes, that’s what I’m saying. Google isn’t giving me a choice of which version I’d like to view. It automatically switches me to the mobile version. That sucks.

  20. Ricky: yes, that’s what I’m saying. Google isn’t giving me a choice of which version I’d like to view. It automatically switches me to the mobile version. That sucks.

  21. Glad you hate Google Reader on your phone, Robert (I thought it was just me). It’s the most cumbersome app I’ve seen. It’s stunning that Google hasn’t fixed it. Perhaps your louder-than-most voice will be heard (no matter what grammar you use). As long as they fix it, you can “Patrick and me” all you want.

    I probably will never have an iPhone – just got a Q recently and it’s fine for my needs. I always wondered how you read all that stuff when we walked through the gardens when you were here. I could never get Google Reader to be readable on my Treo and it’s not much better on the Q. (But some of us have ‘over-40′ eyes and can’t see much on a phone anyway).

  22. Glad you hate Google Reader on your phone, Robert (I thought it was just me). It’s the most cumbersome app I’ve seen. It’s stunning that Google hasn’t fixed it. Perhaps your louder-than-most voice will be heard (no matter what grammar you use). As long as they fix it, you can “Patrick and me” all you want.

    I probably will never have an iPhone – just got a Q recently and it’s fine for my needs. I always wondered how you read all that stuff when we walked through the gardens when you were here. I could never get Google Reader to be readable on my Treo and it’s not much better on the Q. (But some of us have ‘over-40′ eyes and can’t see much on a phone anyway).

  23. I hate Google reader on any phone primarily because of the 10 story limit. I’d rather wait a bit longer and get 50 links, decide which ones to read or skip as opposed to keep having to click “mark as read” and wait to jump to the next page.

    It’s so freaking annoying to wait over EDGE.

  24. I hate Google reader on any phone primarily because of the 10 story limit. I’d rather wait a bit longer and get 50 links, decide which ones to read or skip as opposed to keep having to click “mark as read” and wait to jump to the next page.

    It’s so freaking annoying to wait over EDGE.

  25. I hear you on Google Reader sucking, and I’m also mad that I can’t update status from home.php in Facebook on the iPhone and the mobile Facebook (m.facebook.com) doesn’t work on the iPhone, either.

    I need to aggregate all of my feeds into a single RSS feed that I can read from the Safari RSS reader, which is actually pretty decent– throw in a little Javascript so that I can share/save items, and I’ll be a MUCH happier feed reader.

  26. I hear you on Google Reader sucking, and I’m also mad that I can’t update status from home.php in Facebook on the iPhone and the mobile Facebook (m.facebook.com) doesn’t work on the iPhone, either.

    I need to aggregate all of my feeds into a single RSS feed that I can read from the Safari RSS reader, which is actually pretty decent– throw in a little Javascript so that I can share/save items, and I’ll be a MUCH happier feed reader.

  27. Chris: ahh, that works! Sort of. But now new items don’t come in. UPDATED: you gotta click “next item.” OK, this is very nice and workable.

  28. Chris: ahh, that works! Sort of. But now new items don’t come in. UPDATED: you gotta click “next item.” OK, this is very nice and workable.

  29. Interesting because I was reading Scobelizer — the posts written when you were in a certain line up earlier this week — two days ago via Google RSS Reader on a Nokia N95 with no problem. However, it appeared to be a version formatted especially for the N95. Went to mobile.google.com and received back a list of “Google Services for your N95″. One of those services is the “Reader” (under “Google Lab services for your N95″). And the Reader gives you a list of several hundred RSS feeds — including Scobelizer (but I could not find a way to add a feed, such as Skype Journal, to the list).

    If I go to the same URL on my Blackberry I have a different experience for the Blackberry 8700 in that it gives me the opportunity to download separate clients for Search, Maps, GMail, News, and GTalk. And it acknowledges that I am on a Blackberry 8700. No sign of Google Reader in this case.

    It seems Google has made responses to the mobile.google.com URL adapted to each mobile device. Would be interesting to know what you get when you go to this URL on the iPhone.

  30. Interesting because I was reading Scobelizer — the posts written when you were in a certain line up earlier this week — two days ago via Google RSS Reader on a Nokia N95 with no problem. However, it appeared to be a version formatted especially for the N95. Went to mobile.google.com and received back a list of “Google Services for your N95″. One of those services is the “Reader” (under “Google Lab services for your N95″). And the Reader gives you a list of several hundred RSS feeds — including Scobelizer (but I could not find a way to add a feed, such as Skype Journal, to the list).

    If I go to the same URL on my Blackberry I have a different experience for the Blackberry 8700 in that it gives me the opportunity to download separate clients for Search, Maps, GMail, News, and GTalk. And it acknowledges that I am on a Blackberry 8700. No sign of Google Reader in this case.

    It seems Google has made responses to the mobile.google.com URL adapted to each mobile device. Would be interesting to know what you get when you go to this URL on the iPhone.

  31. I am putting some thoughts and reasons for the mobile Google Reader version at the bottom. I think the iPhone might need something different. Loading the full version on the iPhone can be hard on the performance maybe too. What do you think Robert?

    I guess the only reason for the Google Reader mobile version to go in steps of 10 is purely bandwidth , so that the minimum is loaded and you can decide to go on, but that is not something that concerns iPhone users, but more the usual mobile phone surfers.

    For example here in Europe bandwidth has to be paid in hard cash, which is far more expensive than actually taking a phonecall.
    So for bandwidth savvy users this is still a good and in fact fast loading view. stepping forward with “#” key is fast and simple. On my not iPhone Nokia 6280 it behaves nicely. No Desktop experience of course, but nice to read when on my way to work

    iPhone deserves something more fluent though.

    But i don’t think the iPhone deserves that. Certainly calls for a specific tailored version.

  32. I am putting some thoughts and reasons for the mobile Google Reader version at the bottom. I think the iPhone might need something different. Loading the full version on the iPhone can be hard on the performance maybe too. What do you think Robert?

    I guess the only reason for the Google Reader mobile version to go in steps of 10 is purely bandwidth , so that the minimum is loaded and you can decide to go on, but that is not something that concerns iPhone users, but more the usual mobile phone surfers.

    For example here in Europe bandwidth has to be paid in hard cash, which is far more expensive than actually taking a phonecall.
    So for bandwidth savvy users this is still a good and in fact fast loading view. stepping forward with “#” key is fast and simple. On my not iPhone Nokia 6280 it behaves nicely. No Desktop experience of course, but nice to read when on my way to work

    iPhone deserves something more fluent though.

    But i don’t think the iPhone deserves that. Certainly calls for a specific tailored version.

  33. The N800 presents the same issue with Greader (my most used site). The full one doesn’t work well – can’t remember the problem – and the mobile version from Google is rubbish (how do they manage this when the Gmail Java app is WONDERFUL?).

    Anyhow, someone got really worked up about it and produced reader-mini (https://readermini.com/) which uses the Greader API and renders really nicely on the N800. I don’t know whether it will work on the iPhone but it’s worth a try.

  34. The N800 presents the same issue with Greader (my most used site). The full one doesn’t work well – can’t remember the problem – and the mobile version from Google is rubbish (how do they manage this when the Gmail Java app is WONDERFUL?).

    Anyhow, someone got really worked up about it and produced reader-mini (https://readermini.com/) which uses the Greader API and renders really nicely on the N800. I don’t know whether it will work on the iPhone but it’s worth a try.

  35. I’ve gone back to using NetNewsWire, since GReader can’t subscribe to feeds that require authentication (such as Daring Fireball’s premium feeds). I never liked NewsGator online, although it’s starting to improve. Unfortunately it sucks much worse than GReader on an iPhone.

  36. I’ve gone back to using NetNewsWire, since GReader can’t subscribe to feeds that require authentication (such as Daring Fireball’s premium feeds). I never liked NewsGator online, although it’s starting to improve. Unfortunately it sucks much worse than GReader on an iPhone.

  37. Hate to be singled out here but I really have no problem with the web mobile version of Google reader. It is fast and easy to use. Is it like using the desktop, no but I haven’t seen one that it is.

    Robert, what is your alternative to the experience you are having on the iPhone. All they are doing is looking at the header to see if it is a mobile browser and routing you to the mobile version. I guess they could look for an iPhone specific header to give you the full web version. But I don’t think it would be user sensitive to give all mobile users the full version. The full version would be unbearable on my Treo as an example.

  38. Hate to be singled out here but I really have no problem with the web mobile version of Google reader. It is fast and easy to use. Is it like using the desktop, no but I haven’t seen one that it is.

    Robert, what is your alternative to the experience you are having on the iPhone. All they are doing is looking at the header to see if it is a mobile browser and routing you to the mobile version. I guess they could look for an iPhone specific header to give you the full web version. But I don’t think it would be user sensitive to give all mobile users the full version. The full version would be unbearable on my Treo as an example.

  39. Lou: I figured out how to get the full Reader on the iPhone. So it’s all OK.

    But, even if I couldn’t, it should have an option somewhere on the page.

  40. Lou: I figured out how to get the full Reader on the iPhone. So it’s all OK.

    But, even if I couldn’t, it should have an option somewhere on the page.

  41. Ah, there I went with header override and header detection completely missing the obvious method, give the user the option :). How did you get to the full reader by the way?

  42. Ah, there I went with header override and header detection completely missing the obvious method, give the user the option :). How did you get to the full reader by the way?

  43. PDF? The iPhone can view PDFs. Silverlight? No big deal, it ain’t no Flash-killer. Flash on the other hand would be a much higher priority for the iPhone.

  44. PDF? The iPhone can view PDFs. Silverlight? No big deal, it ain’t no Flash-killer. Flash on the other hand would be a much higher priority for the iPhone.

  45. It was good to see you kept your feet on the ground. The iPhone is bound to have problems and annoyances, just like any other device. I was worried you’d been carried away by the hype and your launch experience in Palo Alto!

  46. It was good to see you kept your feet on the ground. The iPhone is bound to have problems and annoyances, just like any other device. I was worried you’d been carried away by the hype and your launch experience in Palo Alto!

  47. I was initially a bit pissed off about the full Google Reader view, since I could not get it to scroll.. previous and next buttons just don’t do it for me..

    but then I figured out that you can ’2 finger scroll’ on the iPhone! it works for the ‘river of news’ view in Google Reader as well as for large text fields. just put two fingers on the screen and swipe up or down.

    iPhone is getting better and better!

  48. I was initially a bit pissed off about the full Google Reader view, since I could not get it to scroll.. previous and next buttons just don’t do it for me..

    but then I figured out that you can ’2 finger scroll’ on the iPhone! it works for the ‘river of news’ view in Google Reader as well as for large text fields. just put two fingers on the screen and swipe up or down.

    iPhone is getting better and better!

  49. “Oh, and I have verified. No Flash, no Java, no Silverlight, no Adobe PDF.”

    Why has no one tried interactive Quicktime? I know they’re a rarity on the net, but of any platform, that’s the one that’s most likely going to work on the iPhone.

  50. “Oh, and I have verified. No Flash, no Java, no Silverlight, no Adobe PDF.”

    Why has no one tried interactive Quicktime? I know they’re a rarity on the net, but of any platform, that’s the one that’s most likely going to work on the iPhone.

  51. I agree with many of the comments – the mobile reader sucks, but it could be pretty damn good if it only didn’t force every link to be “mobified”.

    There’s some really stupid things about it that require click upon click – if I mark all stories read in a particular page – take me back where I came from, don’t force me to choose tags or subscriptions AGAIN.

    The desktop view works, but the two-finger scroll (GREAT TIP!) is WAY too slow. There’s no way I am going to use that it’s DOG slow.

    I could live with the 5 story thing if the links didn’t force me to hit “original” and then scroll all the way to the bottom for the “HTML” version – this is the mobified version problem again but even that could be improved simply by moving the mobifier links to the top of the page.

  52. I agree with many of the comments – the mobile reader sucks, but it could be pretty damn good if it only didn’t force every link to be “mobified”.

    There’s some really stupid things about it that require click upon click – if I mark all stories read in a particular page – take me back where I came from, don’t force me to choose tags or subscriptions AGAIN.

    The desktop view works, but the two-finger scroll (GREAT TIP!) is WAY too slow. There’s no way I am going to use that it’s DOG slow.

    I could live with the 5 story thing if the links didn’t force me to hit “original” and then scroll all the way to the bottom for the “HTML” version – this is the mobified version problem again but even that could be improved simply by moving the mobifier links to the top of the page.

  53. I am still not clear if this is old news as I’ve been using the workaround URL, but I recently went again to http://reader.google.com and was surprised to find that it now works perfectly on the iPhone.

    Visiting the regular Google URL still redirects the iPhone to the mobile link but now almost all the features from the desktop version are present, including “See original”, “Add/Remove star”, “Share” and “Keep unread”. News items fill the screen with no horizontal scrolling. At the top of a news item, a header has status icons for both Starred and Shared; and it does fit well within the Safari look and feel. The subscription list has live icons to the right indicating the number of unread items for that particular feed. Finally, the Tags link brings up a similar list of unread items per tag and links to both Starred and Shared items.

  54. I am still not clear if this is old news as I’ve been using the workaround URL, but I recently went again to http://reader.google.com and was surprised to find that it now works perfectly on the iPhone.

    Visiting the regular Google URL still redirects the iPhone to the mobile link but now almost all the features from the desktop version are present, including “See original”, “Add/Remove star”, “Share” and “Keep unread”. News items fill the screen with no horizontal scrolling. At the top of a news item, a header has status icons for both Starred and Shared; and it does fit well within the Safari look and feel. The subscription list has live icons to the right indicating the number of unread items for that particular feed. Finally, the Tags link brings up a similar list of unread items per tag and links to both Starred and Shared items.

  55. Today I don’t see a feeds link at the top of the Google Reader page on my iPod Touch. It’s at the bottom, but it’s a long way down.

    Thanks for the info in this post…

  56. Today I don’t see a feeds link at the top of the Google Reader page on my iPod Touch. It’s at the bottom, but it’s a long way down.

    Thanks for the info in this post…

  57. ok…i hate either the iphone or update 2.0.2 or the reader.

    right now they have the google reader that comes with the phone
    —doesn’t show the images automatically…which is what is cool about googles reader…
    —and you have to click next to see the next set of 10 items…lame…
    —and it only shows a small bit of content

    then when i go to the actual google reader web page <> it is doing something funky…
    —it only shows what can be seen in the safari window, i.e. it doesn’t scroll anymore…suck suck suck
    —you can’t zoom in this window anymore either…what the flippin haystack is this shine-o-la?
    —there are these strange red lines around each article, they almost look like old fashion type setting crop indicators…booo hiss.

    quick question…if i back my phone up, it backs up the setting correct? i am going to take my phone back to factory settings and hopefully the original Software Version so i can see Google reader as i see it in a computer browser.

    any help would be appreciated…

    thanks in advance

  58. ok…i hate either the iphone or update 2.0.2 or the reader.

    right now they have the google reader that comes with the phone
    —doesn’t show the images automatically…which is what is cool about googles reader…
    —and you have to click next to see the next set of 10 items…lame…
    —and it only shows a small bit of content

    then when i go to the actual google reader web page <> it is doing something funky…
    —it only shows what can be seen in the safari window, i.e. it doesn’t scroll anymore…suck suck suck
    —you can’t zoom in this window anymore either…what the flippin haystack is this shine-o-la?
    —there are these strange red lines around each article, they almost look like old fashion type setting crop indicators…booo hiss.

    quick question…if i back my phone up, it backs up the setting correct? i am going to take my phone back to factory settings and hopefully the original Software Version so i can see Google reader as i see it in a computer browser.

    any help would be appreciated…

    thanks in advance