Google's biggest weakness has always been their user interface design. They may be good programmers, but they just can't design a decent interface. From Android to Gmail, the interfaces are blocky, plain and waste too much screen space.
Google has been revamping most of their web service interfaces lately and things have gone from bad to worse. Google's Reader takes up even more space than it did before. For those Mac users that agree, there are a few applications that can help.
Apple's Mail app is a really nice email program and it works great with Gmail. One can set it up with POP or IMAP and let Google filter the SPAM. iCloud is a much better place to sync contacts and calendars and it is free. iCloud does a better job syncing with Apple's Address Book and iCal than Google. If one needs to use Google Calendars, programs like BusyCal are better options and offer a good interface.
Reeder on the iOS and NewsRack on the Mac are great replacements for Google's Reader in the browser. Both applications sync well and offer much better news reading interfaces. Google still has the best RSS syncing service (no one else really has one), but their interface is horrible and these applications make a huge difference in usability.
Google's photo sharing service Picasa has some stiff competition. Flickr and 500px offer much better features and communities for sharing photos. For storing photos online, Smugmug and Zenfolio also offer much better features and more security. 500px has one of the best photo interfaces on the Internet.
While using both Gmail and Google Reader services, I never actually visit them in the browser. The applications listed above make those services more useable and easier to navigate. One day, Google may learn how to design a good interface, but that time is not now. Right now they need help, and lots of it.