I only found out about this half an hour ago, via this excellent post from Read/WriteWeb, so I’ve had limited opportunity to roadtest it. My first impression, as a dedicated Bloglines user for over a year, is that it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Finally, Bloglines is on an equal footing — in terms of looks and overall presentation — with popular alternatives like Google Reader and My Yahoo.
The first thing you’ll notice is the slick new Ajax interface: now you can drag and drop feeds on the fly, without having to enter a separate editing mode. The major innovation, though, must be the new start page. This brings Bloglines into line with most other modern web-based aggregators. Now you can drag your favourite feeds onto your home page and see all the top headlines in one place before you dip into individual feeds.
There are also a couple of different viewing modes: Quick View displays just the headlines for a given feed, while 3-Pane View splits the reading pane in two and puts headlines in the top pane and the full story below.
Since this is a beta, several features are lacking at present, such as options to save posts and clip to a blog — something which I use extensively on vanilla Bloglines. However, these are all scheduled for future releases, along with options to share posts (in true social bookmarking style) and greater power for users to personalize their feeds.
I’d also like to see Bloglines browser buttons so that I can subscribe to a feed in a single click from any webpage, as well as a button to clip a page to my clip blog for later reading. If this can be rolled out in conjunction with some robust sharing tools, it could make Bloglines a credible alternative to social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us.
UPDATE: 28/08/2007: The new beta doesn’t display properly in IE (at least in version 6, which is what we’re stuck with at work — I will test it on 7 tonight when I get home). It seems Bloglines are aware of this since they issue a notice to that effect when you attempt to log in: effectively, it states that you can upgrade to Firefox, or “continue on foolishly anyways”.