RSS Is Making a Comeback on Google Chrome

RSS Is Making a Comeback on Google Chrome
Google's screenshots point to a very Google Reader-like interface existing inside Chrome. But again, this is not Google Reader. (Image: Google)

No, Google has not resurrected Google Reader, but it is working on a feature in Chrome that lets you follow multiple RSS feeds.

Chrome users will soon see a “follow” button pop up that will add the website to an RSS repository. Every new tab in Chrome will then open up a “reader” of sorts displaying the latest content from those feeds — again, this is not Google Reader. You won’t be able to switch between RSS feeds the way you would in an app like Feedly, for instance. But you will get a chronological look at what your favourite sites are publishing.

Google announced the experiment in a post on its Chromium Blog. The RSS feature is slowly rolling out, though only to the experimental Canary version of Chrome on Android. Developers and site managers are encouraged to update their RSS feeds in preparation.

A Google spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company plans to 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.” I’m personally hoping this means the end of Google surfacing useless content based on whatever terminology the algorithm has associated with my website activity.

Again, and I can’t stress this enough, this is not the return of Google Reader. It is, however, a seemingly simple feature that is surprisingly late to the table. Since the death of Google Reader in 2013, other RSS feed readers have sprouted up, while RSS as an idea has faded into the background as a legacy standard. I rely on it every workday to keep up with all the news sprouting across the web, but I use Feedly because they made it relatively easy to bring over your Google Reader RSS library at its time of death.

Whoever is still using RSS will be glad to see this feature built into Chrome when it goes live. It remains an experiment for now, and you’re encouraged to send feedback if you like the idea of accessing the web through this resilient open standard.