September 05, 2007

Google Discovers Search! (In Reader)

This evening, as I settled in to catch up on the hundreds of RSS feed items I'd missed in my post-Apple keynote and otherwise distracted haze, I saw a new box atop my Google Reader window pane. Simply and quietly, the Google Reader team integrated search functionality, quite likely the most obvious and most requested item in a list of potential enhancements for what's already the world's best online feed reader.

More than six months after I pleaded with the Google Reader team to add search, saying, "If your job is to search and archive all the world's information, then how does temporarily displaying news items that go away permanently, without offering an ability to search them, fit into that mission?", Google's coders have responded in a big way, not just adding the core ability to search all feeds, but also to search within specific feeds, or folders.

As Matt Cutts and the official Google Reader blog note, the service has added search across your entire feed items history, and it operates in an extremely familiar way - just like GMail. Results are given with the total count, and organized from newest to oldest, in reverse chronological order. (See the below screenshot)

An example search for "Google Reader" within Google Reader

Given how Google Reader has eclipsed BlogLines, NetNewswire and other feed readers in quality, is rising in popularity, and clearly has the development resources to dedicate to the project, the only question I really have is this: "Why is the service still in the Labs?" It makes zero sense to me how Google can make a service so good that its become my default start page across all Web browsers, yet not see it fully baked enough to take out of its development stage. It's high time the company pulled it out of the petri dish and pushed it toward full-fledged evolution. After all, I've been calling for it since mid February. Where is Google's confidence?