In a flurry of activity over the past 12 hours, Google has updated three of its most popular services. The improvements see new social features for Reader and iGoogle as well as an updated Youtube interface.
Ever since the introduction of Shared Items, Google Reader has had a social dimension. The recent introduction of ‘Likes’ and the ability to follow users added to that and now Google is going even further by allowing you to share articles you like via other services easily and quickly. From your settings page you can now automatically publish links to your shared items to Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, Blogger and more.
Google Reader has also integrated its social side more tightly with Google Profiles. If someone you’re following on Google Reader has added their blog, Twitter account etc to their Google Profile you’ll be able to subscribe to it at the click of a button.
Other welcome tweaks include the ability to ‘Mark As Read’ items over a certain age, meaning when your unread count builds up you can shift the old stuff without sacrificing more recent articles.
Google’s widget-based homepage solution has also had a social overhaul, with the launch of a wide range of Social Gadgets. Games like Scrabble and Chess can now be played against others, there’s a new collaborative ‘To-do List’, and you can share media with others using new widgets from Youtube, The Huffington Post and others.
It all sounds very exciting but the new Gadgets may not be in the usual ‘Add Stuff’ list for you (they certainly aren’t for us). To get your hands on the Social Gadgets, head along here and add away!
Finally, Youtube has released its new design to all users. When you’re logged into the site you’ll notice that the left side of the screen is now dedicated to content, while the right side is all about organisation and options. It’s a much cleaner design than the previous, messier layout and while some users have had this layout for a while now, it’s good to see everyone getting it at last.