Do You Still Miss Google Reader?

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


7 replies

  1. If I wasn’t afraid of my ISP dinging me for “running a server” at home I’d give out the URL to my Tiny Tiny Server and setup an ID for you. What someone needs to do is to setup a Tiny Tiny hosting service for people. That would be great for people that just don’t want to run a server. It could even be done via Cpanel (not sure if it can but I bet it could). Once the server is setup the rest of it is cake. It’s setting the service up that’s the issue.

  2. At this point I really don’t miss Reader very much. I am happy with Feedly, though it isn’t perfect, and also with Mr Reader. I was using Netvibes at work, but it is too much of a hassle, doesn’t sync and so on … So I stick to using my iPad as well.

    The concerning thing is the recent revelation that the reason for abandonment was ultimately that Reader wasn’t on any of the senior managements top project list. Where I work we have a ‘Corporate One-Pager’ … And it is pretty important to be sure what yu are doing is either listed on or associated with something on that page.

    The reason it concerns me is that it provides no answers about the feasibility of the RSS market, just that it wasn’t a Google corporate priority.

  3. Another thing with NetVibes is inconsistent feed refreshing. I just got a dump of all Gear Diary updates of the day since Dan’s Blue Microphone review … All at once. Feedly distributed them properly in time. Just say No to Netvibes, kids!

  4. I’m ok without Google Reader and as you mention Feedly is powering enough interfaces to keep me happy. I too will pay despite my dislike of subscriptions, it makes sense to me in this case. I agree with you in regards to Google, I’ve lost a few products I depended on and am very wary.. I’m down to just email and calendar and won’t consider any of the others. As for Google +, I dabble but won’t consider mainlining.. Given its empty halls it should be cancelled as well..

  5. Try inoreader.com – not affiliated with them, just a happy user.

  6. I don’t miss Google Reader all that much. For a long time I was using the Reeder app on both my iPad and Mac to read feeds from Google Reader. Feedly so far is good enough, and Reeder is supposed to support the Feedly API soon, so at some point I won’t notice the difference.

    For the most part I like Reeder because it makes it simple to share article I’m reading with Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote, etc. Google Reader just wasn’t as good alone for that. feedly is better than GR was for this, though still not as good as Reeder was.

  7. I still miss Reader, although I’m getting pretty comfy with Feedly now. I consider this a nasty gut shot to bloggers and frankly, this move dampens my enthusiasm about existing offerings and certainly taints my confidence in new Google products.