Google has updated its awesome RSS reader with new social networking features similar to those found on Facebook. Now, when you come across an article you particularly enjoy, you can “like” it, adding a smiley face icon beneath the piece’s title. (click the image below to view the entire screen cap.) Your choice appears publicly, meaning anyone who also subscribes to that feed can experience your bliss, click on your name, and view your Google Profile.
Also added was a search function that grants you access to a variety of Google Profiles. This is a great way to electronically meet people and discover new feeds. It’s also a direct rip-off of Twitter — it allows you to “follow” a person and view their shared items. You can decline the request to follow — which is useful for when people you don’t really like manifest from the woodwork to scope you out.
This Reader update marks an interesting baby-step for Google into the realm of social networking. Maybe next it will evolve its rather meager Profiles into something more in-depth and engaging, rather than a pretty blank page with limited public information. However, it’d be foolish for even Google to go head-to-head with a Goliath like Facebook — the results would be embarrassing.