Google Reader Alternatives

March 23, 2013 — 1 Comment

It was heartbreaking to learn that Google is killing off Google Reader.  I thought I didn’t have any emotional attachments to products and apps, but the death of Google Reader news proved otherwise.  I had no problem selling my first car. Didn’t shed a tear. I had no problem getting rid of my mobile devices. Couldn’t wait to switch. But hearing of imminent demise of Google reader evoked surprisingly strong emotions.

google reader shuttting down

Just as blogging was taking off in mid-2000s I needed a good way to keep stay updated. Google Reader was the answer. It was clean, simple; and it just worked.  I’ve tried other services at that time but nothing was comparable.  As with many Google products I stuck with it and never looked for an alternative. Until now.

Google Reader became part of my routine. It was the first thing I’d look through at 5am, and last browser window I’d shut down before bed time.  It was engrained into my daily life. Which is why I was so disappointed to hear the news. So, now I have to find an alternative.

Many people argue that you can get your news through multiple sources, primarily focusing on social networks.  Where news is already aggregated, shared and voted up by your networks and circles.  I don’t want my networks to influence what I see in my newsfeed.  By the time I see it, it might be too late. I want control over what gets pushed into my stream.

Also, RSS is built into all news sources and blogs I subscribe to. I know that if I do subscribe to the RSS feed I am guaranteed to get published content in my reader immediately.  Getting my news from social networks won’t work because the content doesn’t get pushed through it consistently. And when it does, it’s cluttered with editor’s tweets and opinions and replies to their audience.

Lastly, certain pieces of content take up too much of a browser real-estate. The only app that can get away with this is Flipboard. There’s no scrolling down the page, just quick flipping to the next article. Essentially, I want my RSS stream to be clutter-free and published with reliable consistency.

Time to look for good Google Reader alternatives.

So, what would be considered a good alternative?

  • First and foremost, I should be able to import my existing Google Reader data. If a new service is unable to do that I won’t go past this crucial step.
  • The new RSS reader should have a familiar look and feel. I want all the headlines listed on one screen. Clean and clutter-free.
  • Show me the data. I’d want to see some stats on my content consumption.
  • Ability to share content across social networks.
  • Ability to ‘star’ or mark as favourite for reading later or reference purposes.
  • Ability to access the feed on various devices
  • Free or minimum ad-support.
  • Finally, can I quickly love it and incorporate it into my daily routine?

As soon as the news of Google Reader’s inevitable demise hit the interwebs, articles about best alternatives started popping up like weeds.

After reviewing the articles, I decided to test out just a handful of most commonly recommended RSS Readers for myself and see which one would be best suited for my needs.

The three readers that dominate RSS reader lists are NewsBlur, The Old Reader and Feedly.  Between these three there’s no contest. Feedly takes the cake. NewsBlur wanted my credit card upfront before letting me test drive the app

newsblur payment screen

Apparently they can’t handle the demand, or is this milking unsuspecting ex-users of Google Reader? However, I was able to click back then hit forward again to gain access to my imported feed. The design looked horrible. Too cluttered. And frames; what is this 1996?

newsblur frames

I didn’t even get a chance to try The Old Reader. It’s been about 3 days now, and still no ETA on when my feed would be imported. Very disappointing.

the old reader

I started using Feedly right of way. Works great on the desktop, iPad, iPhone and other iGizmos and Droids.  Imported my feed instantly. No hick ups. I was hooked by the clean and beautiful layout options, similar look and feel of Google Reader, and tons of sharing options. This is what I always wanted the Google Reader to be.

feedly welcome screen

feedly rss feed

Feedly meets all my requirements I listed earlier. Except one. It doesn’t provide stats on my content consumption. But I can live without it.

With this post it wasn’t my intention to review any apps. My goal was to explore various alternatives to Google Reader.  Feedly comes up as the top recommendation on many lists.  Other RSS readers don’t even come close. Bottom line is, Feedly is in a league of its own and it’s the best alternative to Google Reader out there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1655721400 Christian Puricelli

    I started to develop an alternative (http://reader.is), it don’t yet have all the features you are looking for, but I just started to build it a few days ago ;) so stay tuned an they will come.