Many Google products are undergoing major changes. Recently products such as Gmail, Search and Google Docs had a redesign. Today, Google has announced that Google Reader too is getting a new design and will have tighter integration into Google+.
Unlike the changes in Gmail, Docs etc. which was mainly cosmetic, the changes in Reader will be quite deep. Apart from the old (actually current) design, Google is removing all of the social features from Reader. In case you did not know, Reader has social that allows you to friend other users and share stories with them - it is just that it is very rarely use.
In the next week, we’ll be making some highly requested changes to Google Reader. First, we’re going to introduce a brand new design (like many of Google’s other products) that we hope you love. Second, we’re going to bring Reader and Google+ closer together, so you can share the best of your feeds with just the right circles.
In place of the removed social features, Google+ will come in. Google+ will now be more tightly integrated into Reader and users will be able to share stories they like with their followers in Google+. This move does actually make sense since Reader's social features are under used and, now that they have Google+, there is no point in maintaining independent separate social features in their products.
This does not however mean that a Google+ account is necessary to continue using Reader. Google has pointed out that Reader is still a separate product from Google+ and users can use only Reader if they wish - it is just that those social features will not be available in that case.
As with most of the other Google services, Google has pointed out that if users do not like the changes and wants to leave Reader, they can take their data with them.
The changes in Reader are expected to start rolling out next week.