Couldn’t agree more. And especially about how stark the new design is. I use Google Reader constantly throughout the day and the old color scheme was very easy on the eyes.
In the name of visual consistency, Google has updated the visual style to match Gmail, Calendar and Docs. I have nothing against visual consistency (and in fact, this something that Google should be doing), but it’s as if whoever made the update did so without ever actually using the product to, you know, read something.
When you log into Reader, what the hell do you think your primary objective is? Did you answer “stare at a giant header bar with no real estate saved for actual reading”?
Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows.
The second and more obvious change, is that someone took the magic color-removing wand and drenched the whole page in grey. It’s so unbelievably stark, it’s hard to imagine a more desolate experience. Even G+ has blue links for post titles. Blue titles are good enough for Google search. Reader, which is built entirely around posts with titles, does away with this in the name of the almighty grey god.