After a few leaks, the AOL reader is now official. I’ve played with it over the week-end, and I find it to be quite interesting. First of all, Google Reader (which is closing on July 1) users will like the fact that the List and Panel “views” looks very much like Google Reader, except for the typography is arguably much better with AOL (not super-hard since Google Reader had “no” typography). If you prefer to see more images, there is a Cards view that would look like a Pinterest or Google+ interface, which is great to scan articles if you are a visual person.
The AOL Reader also offers the ability to tag and save articles for later read, in addition to be able to quickly share items on social networks. There is also an API for third party developers to build on, although I did not have time to dive into this details at the moment.
Upon creating a new account, you can immediately choose to add news feeds, and AOL has a number of pre-made ones divided in broad categories (like “tech”). Not surprisingly, it’s heavily loaded with AOL’s own sites, but I can hardly blame them for plugging their products. I was able to import an OPML XML file from Google Reader in a snap, and everything pretty much worked right away, including feed folders.
There are two small things that I think AOL should fix: 1/ the reader didn’t seem to get the latest stories (at least for our site) although Feedburner was up to date. 2/ The chronological order of the posts seems a bit broken at the moment as posts appear sorted by publication rather than by publishing time. Other than that, the web reader was fast, and it is possible to access the same content from iOS as well (No Android version so far). Don’t forget that Digg is also coming up with their own RSS reader, but I would say that AOL has a product worthy of your attention.