Google Reader, the company’s popular feed reader, long looked like the forgotten stepchild of Google+ and other more recent products at Google. As the company continued to update the look and feel of many of its products in the last few months, Reader looked like it would be left behind. Today, however, Google announced that Reader will soon get a facelift as well. At the same time, though, it looks as if Reader will also lose some features, as Google is moving all of its social efforts to Google+.

Among those features that will soon be retired are “friending, following and shared link blog inside of Reader.” According to Alan Green, a software engineer on the Google Reader team who wrote today’s announcement, Google thinks “he end result is better than what’s available today, and you can sign up for Google+ right now to start prepping Reader-specific circles.” Google Reader will, however, get support for Google+ sharing and Google notes that “many of Reader’s social features will soon be available via Google+.”

Alive, But on Life Support?

It’s worth noting that for a long time now, the development of Google Reader looked like it had come to a halt. There haven’t really been any major updates to Reader in more than a year and according to some of the people I have talked to at Google, most of the original team has been disbanded and was working on other products. Google+ itself offers a feed reader-like feature with Sparks, though this currently remains one of the least developed parts of the service.

It’s not clear if today’s announcement heralds the beginning of renewed development of Google Reader, or if the new design is simply meant to bring the product’s look up to date but won’t extend beyond that.