Chrome, at least in its experimental Canary version on Android (and only for users in the U.S.), is getting an exciting update in the coming weeks that brings back RSS, the once-popular format for gettingReader and similar services. In Chrome, a “Follow” feature for sites that support RSS, and the browser’s New Tab page will get what is essentially a (very) essential RSS reader — I guess you could almost call it a “Google Reader.” Now we’re not talking about a full-blown RSS reader here. The New Tab page will show you updates from the sites you follow in chronological order, but it doesn’t look like you can easily switch between feeds, for example. It’s a start, though.
“Today, people have many, including subscribing to mailing lists, notifications, and RSS. It’s a lot for any one person to manage, so we’re exploring how to simplify the experience of getting the latest and greatest from your favorite sites directly in Chrome, building on the open RSS web standard,” Janice Wong, product manager, , writes in today’s update. “Our vision is to help people on the web.” A Google spokesperson told me that the way the company has this is to have Google crawl RSS feeds “more frequently to ensure Chrome will be able to deliver the latest and greatest content to users in the Following section on the New Tab page.”
RSS was one of the fundamental technologies of the Web 2.0 era. Even today, it’s still the easiest way to get from your favorite sites (though some may not offer feeds anymore) without any recommendation algorithms getting in your way. Yet while RSS was always beneficial, the user experience wasn’t always ideal, though Reader (RIP) and Feedly did a lot to make it simple enough to subscribe to feeds and get updates. But when Google Reader at the altar of Google+ back in 2013, that era came to an end, even as diehard news junkies kept holding on to their Feedly accounts and old copies of NetNewsWire. I
think manywill be glad to see that Google is bringing it back as a core feature of its browser. If you prefer an open web, RSS is the way to go for all its occasional clumsiness. For now, though, this is only an experiment. Google says it wants to from “publishers, bloggers, creators, and citizens of the open web” as it aims to build “deeper engagement between users and web publishers in Chrome.” Hopefully, it won’t stay this way.