RIP Google Currents

Regular readers may be aware that I became very fond of a Google app called Currents. This took RSS-enabled news feeds, and presented them as attractive “magazines”. For feeds with significant image content (like most of the photography blogs I follow) Currents did a remarkable job.

Beyond making news reading sexy, Currents delivered two other pieces of distinct value: an easy to read default two-column layout on larger tablets, and a “stack” widget which allowed you to quickly swipe through the day’s news, aggregated chronologically, and click through to read the items of most interest.

However, I am writing this in the past tense. Currents is no more. An “update” a couple of weeks ago quietly moved my feed list over to the execrable “Google Play Newsstand” and uninstalled Currents. The replacement is clumsy, with none of Currents’ visual flair. An uninspiring reading experience is exacerbated by a useless widget which removes the brilliant former “flip through” capability.

Unfortunately this is not the first such aberration by Google. It’s less than six months since they killed off both the Reader app (maybe not such a great loss) and the sadly-missed iGoogle (which ironically was killed off allegedly because most users prefer Google’s tablet apps!) Now they are forcing us towards a dreadful replacement for the best of those apps, and I’m not happy…

This also comes on the back of various screw-ups regarding Chrome: the ready plain-text disclosure of stored passwords, the broken scrollbars, menus spaced ridiculously widely on normal PC displays. I could go on, and on, and on…

The arrogance of Google’s developers appears to be exceeded only by their stupidity or blindness to the faults in their “improvements”. When they deign to respond to a torrent of public displeasure, they do so by claiming that it’s our fault for not understanding the brilliance of their ideas, not by listening and responding to customer feedback.

I really don’t understand why Google are behaving this way, but it does seem that having emulated Microsoft’s successes of the 90s, Google are now determined to repeat their mistakes of the noughties, breaking compatibility, destroying things which worked well, and systematically driving customers into the arms of competitors. Apple might get away with treating customers with disdain, but Google have neither their shiny hardware nor the fans’ love for the blessed St. Jobs.

For now I’m sticking with Android and probably Chrome, but I’m genuinely interested in making sure the market starts to develop high quality alternatives, before Google rip their remaining carpets out from under us. If you know of a proper non-Google replacement for Currents please let me know.

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