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.

87 thoughts on “The worst iPhone Web page: Google Reader (UPDATED)

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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…

  4. 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…

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. “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.

  10. “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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

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