It’s been over a month, and I still miss Google Reader. I’ve found a mostly-good replacement in using Mr. Reader on my iPad, NextGen Reader on my Lumia, and Feedly Cloud on a computer, but it’s not the same thing. My work PC can’t open Feedly Cloud, so I browse my RSS feeds while hunched over my iPad. Meanwhile, despite the long lead time between Google Reader’s announced shutdown and its actual end, it seems like Reader replacements are still half-baked and trying to find their way … which makes me fear for the future of RSS in general!
By far, the most successful of the Google Reader replacements is Feedly. They are powering over a dozen apps across multiple platforms and browsers, and you can read your RSS however you like. Want a magazine-style reading experience on your iPad, and a more traditional list-view on your smartphone? Feedly is partnered with apps that can do all that, and it will keep all your feeds in sync. They also have their own branded app, but if it’s not your style — and personally, I hate it — you can still use the service and get the news reading style you crave. As far as sustainability goes, Feedly is looking to monetize with a $5 per month “Feedly Pro” option soon, which will include Evernote integration, in-article searches, and other goodies. I normally shy away from ongoing subscription services, but if Feedly Pro’s benefits work smoothly across the third-party apps that sync with Feedly, I will happily pay them to keep the service going!
Before I settled on Feedly, I looked at a few other replacements as well. I had high hopes for Digg Reader, but despite a flashy announcement when Google Reader shut down, Digg’s offering has been a total disappointment. Digg released a truly dreadful Reader replacement; it was so bad, it didn’t even list how many new items you had in your feeds! While it has (apparently) improved since then, they released it only a few days before Google Reader was gone for good. At that point, most users needed to get their replacement lined up, and I doubt many people had the patience to give Digg another few months to improve the service.
There were services like Feedly, that existed before the Reader shutdown and experienced major growth. The Old Reader got tossed around quite a bit as a replacement option, and I know a few people who were quite happy with it as an alternative. Last week, though, they posted on their blog that the extreme growth from the Google exodus was overwhelming, and the service was going back to a private, closed one. Since then it seems like someone may have taken over/bought the site, as a subsequent post reversed course and announced it would stay as an open service. Still, as someone watching the RSS landscape, I find that a bit nerve-wracking. It doesn’t feel like a sustainable service. While I understand that the founders never intended to run a huge service, this “we’re shutting down/no wait, just kidding, we found someone to bankroll us” back and forth is not something users who were just displaced from their last service of choice want to hear.
And of course, there are always more geeky choices for RSS — like TinyTinyRSS, or Newsblur. Newsblur isn’t so much geeky as it is not terribly user-friendly; I briefly looked at it, before deciding it wasn’t worth the effort to set it up. It was twice the work of a service like Feedly for almost none of the sync benefits. TinyTinyRSS is supposedly excellent, and if you have your own access to a server, or know someone who can configure it, the nice part is that no one can ever take it away from you. It is a bit more initial effort though, and while I’m curious about it, I don’t think I have the time or the inclination to start from scratch on my own. I’m far more willing to pay for Feedly Pro and hope for the best!
In the end, Feedly has stepped up and replaced 90% of my Google Reader needs. I’ve also found it has made me wary of tying too much to Google. What happens when some other service I use also falls too far outside their “main business”? How long until Google decides that shared calendars aren’t really adding to their core business — unless I’m sharing that calendar in a Google+ circle? Will Google Voice be next on the chopping block? In some ways, that’s what makes it more comforting to use a pure RSS play like Feedly; this IS their business, so they have a vested interest in keeping it going.
Still, despite my bitterness towards Google and my growing enjoyment of Feedly, I still have my Google Reader bookmark front and center. It’s not really gone if I don’t delete it, right?
Have you used any Google Reader replacements? Do you still miss Google Reader? Let us know in the comments!
Categories: Rants and Raves