Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Internet Emergency: Google Reader is Shutting Down; Here's What to Use Instead

This was me in March, but I guess I'm coming to terms with it....

I posted about this on my Facebook page, but I haven't mentioned it on my blog yet - Google Reader, the best (or at least my favorite) web-powered RSS reader, is shutting down on July 1.

For those of you who don't know what RSS is, you should get to know it - it's a very powerful content delivery platform that lets you very easily (and quickly) follow and digest the content from tens, hundreds, or even thousands of websites and blogs. For bloggers like me, RSS is an absolutely indispensable tool for trying to sort through all of the junk on the web to find the jewels of content we want to share, write about, argue about, or expand upon.

As with many web services, Google moved into the RSS space several years ago and quickly became #1 - but as the web has become more like Facebook, Google has moved its resources towards services like Google+ and has decided to shut down Google Reader. This is very bad news for those of us who depend(ed) upon Google Reader every day, but we've got to suck it up, move on, and find a replacement.

I looked at several alternatives (there are a few other paid alternatives, but I won't address those here, as I was looking for a free alternative):

http://www.feedly.com
http://www.commafeed.com/
http://inoreader.com/
http://hivereader.com/
http://theoldreader.com

After having done all the work, I figured I'd share my recommendation with you and spare you the effort - the best Google Reader alternative thus far is Feedly, hands down. Feedly offers a few other advantages over the other alternatives:
  • Feedly is fast, fast, fast, like Google Reader used to be.
  • Feedly offers a one-click import of all your subscriptions (and even your most recent 250 starred articles) from Google Reader.
  • After import, Feedly sorts your feeds sanely (i.e. alphabetically), while still letting you customize the layout of your feeds if you want.
  • Feedly is developing an open API, so that you'll be able to use 3rd-party RSS readers with Feedly, if you prefer the look and feel of a different reader.
  • Critically, Feedly is the only alternative (of the above options, anyway) that offers a native Android and iOS app.
Of course, there are a couple problems with Feedly - the biggest one being its lack of a search function, but I'm sure they're working on rolling that out. I also don't like the default color scheme, but that's a small gripe.

The only other alternative even halfway worth considering is The Old Reader - it's not as fast as Feedly, but it's fast enough, and it already offers a crude search function (though nothing as sophisticated as Google Reader). However, the feed import is much more onerous, and it seems to arrange the feeds at random, requiring a lot of cleanup if you want to use the service permanently (which I never bothered to do, since I'm moving to Feedly).

The other three I looked at were so slow or buggy that I can't imagine dealing with the frustration of trying to use them on a daily basis. I'll probably check back in on them in a few months to see if they've matured, but I can't recommend them now.

So, head on over to Feedly and sign up sometime in the next 5 days, if you're a Google Reader user - you may be a little disappointed, but Feedly is getting better all the time, and you've got to go somewhere ....

And while you're at it, subscribe to my RSS feed, if you haven't already ;)

6 comments:

  1. You're a life saver! Thanks :)

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  2. Broke Girl: Great, I'm glad you found it helpful :D

    -The Angry Bureaucrat

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  3. Thank you for your research and recommendation. I just imported my stuff to Feedly. I hope all is well with you, Ally, and Addy, and your furry friends! Missing you on this side of the pond. Carolyn

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    1. Carolyn: Glad it was helpful!

      I keep hoping to make it back to Hungary, but it just keeps not working out. Of course, I'm not entirely sure of how much I really want to come back at this exact moment anyway - the Hungarian government seems to have gone quite off the rails in the past few years.

      -The Angry Bureaucrat

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  4. Good review. I'd also like a way to export my Feedly reading list to a blog or website -either as a dynamic updater or as a simple list of URLs.

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    1. Thomas: I think Feedly is working on an export function.

      Also, you have until July 15 to export your Google Reader data from Google directly, via this link:

      https://www.google.com/takeout/?pli=1#custom:reader

      One of the files it will export is a file called subscriptions.xml, which is your complete reading list in XML format, which is probably as close to a simple list of URLs as is possible to get.

      -The Angry Bureaucrat

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