Dubbed Google Reader Play, the new tool is an experimental Google Labs project that presents stories one by one — based on their Recommend Items technology — using enlarged photos and auto-playing videos (in lieu of text) on a black backdrop. Viewers can redefine categories and star, like or share stories, with those behaviors further contributing to what Google displays.
Google Reader Play could be both an entertainment utility for browsing the web and a complement to your Google Reader experience. Actions that you take in Reader or Reader Play are shared between the two products, and the recommendations in Reader Play are personalized based on the people you’re following in Reader.
Google Reader Play is certainly eye-catching, but it’s more pop than it is substance. In fact, given that Google Reader appeals to fairly narrow audience today, we believe the product was intended to up the entertainment factor and introduce Reader-esque features to a much broader set of users.
It’s nice to look at and worth a try; whether or not that’s enough to attract the attention of those outside the web/tech realm remains to be seen. We do, however, think that Google Reader Play on an iPad or actual TV set, say via something like Boxee Box, would be worth watching.