I’ve been a heavy user of RSS for years now. I’ve tried and used everything from custom built applications and scripts, to browser add-ons, to third-party services. Even this very blog’s archives are full migration and review articles form one tool to another. Here are a few links, if you are interested:
For the last 3 years, I’ve been using Feedly, which I like a lot. I’ve been thinking about going Pro for about a year now. Last week, I made the switch. Here’s why:
- I do love the service and want to support it! After all, I’m spending at least an hour every day going through my feeds. Sometimes even more.
- The Pro version removes the limit on the number of feeds and items in each feed. Not that I don’t have enough to read, but I don’t like the idea that I might be missing something.
- The Pro version provides integrations and easier sharing to a variety of third-party services. The one that is most important for me is WordPress integration.
- Their blog post about the upcoming changes to feed organization was the last drop – I WANT THAT!
Feedly constantly improves the user experience and brings new features. It works very stable – I think only remember one or two downtimes in the last three years. Their web interface is very handy and the mobile app works well too. They have plenty of browser add-ons to make things even easier.
All in all, it’s well worth $5 per month for me.
Mashable reminds us that it’s been a year since Google Reader has been decommissioned. They are also doing a survey to find out if people use more of RSS feeds now or less, what they’ve substituted it with and which tools people are using now to follow their favorite feeds.
I’ve completed the survey, but without any visible results just yet, I thought I’d talk about my situation here. In the last year my use of RSS has decreased significantly. Even though the actual number of the feeds I am subscribed to has increased, I read them less. I share less. I bookmark and blog about less. And it’ nothing but the tool’s fault. Even though Feedly is an excellent tool – fast, flexible, with mobile support, and aesthetically pleasing, it simply is not Google Reader, which I was practically embed into. I’ve looked around for Google Reader alternatives, I tried a few. Feedly is the best of the bunch for my taste, but it’s different.
So, with that in mind, what happened to all that free time that I used to spend in Google Reader? Sadly, I have to admit that I’m much more on Facebook now. Quality-wise, that’s a huge drop. Instead of following my favorite writers, keeping in touch with all kinds of technology advances, and learning new things, I am now participating in flaming comment wars about nothing, and watching videos of cute kittens and bouncing boobs. Cheap entertainment swallowed me and spat me out. It’s exactly like never switching a television set was in the last century. And it’s a pity.
And the saddest part is that I knew it would happen. And if I knew, Google definitely knew that too. And they killed Google Reader anyway. And it’ll be a long time until I let it go…
Today, June 30th, is the last day of Google Reader availability. If you completely ignored all the noise around the matter, run quickly, export and backup your feeds. Tomorrow Google Reader will be no more.
Of course, I’ve been on a quest for the Google Reader alternative. Of course, I found plenty. And, of course, none of them are exactly the same. I’ve decided to stick with Bazqux, and I’ve paid my yearly subscription fee a few month ago.
It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of work went into many of the alternatives over the last months, as more and more people started looking for the new RSS home. Some of that work was quite noticeable. For example, Feedly changed in the last 100 days so much that I had to re-evaluate it completely. And, also, new services were introduced – such as Digg Reader.
Still, with all that, it’s sad to see Google Reader go. I’ve used it every single day and relied heavily on it for years. Paraphrasing the classic quote: so long, and thanks for all the feeds.
When Google announced its plans to shutter Google Reader in March, the Internet freaked out. Twitter users raised their virtual pitchforks in outrage. Bloggers wept, scrambling to find a suitable replacement by the service’s July 1 death date.
Wired runs a take on why Google Reader is almost no more. I do agree with most of the points on how the news consumption changed:
But there’s another reason Google decided to put its RSS reader to death. According to Mountain View, most of us simply consume news differently now than when Reader was launched.
“As a culture we have moved into a realm where the consumption of news is a near-constant process,” says Richard Gringras, Senior Director, News & Social Products at Google. “Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day — replacing the old standard behaviors of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day.”
Google Reader, and other RSS readers, subscribe to this “old” model. You sit, you pore through the day’s news link by link. Yes, some people are glued to their readers constantly. (Guilty!) And yes, you can use an app like Feedly to get your RSS fix on the go, but it’s a passive news-getting experience. With its updates to Now and Plus, Google wants its readers to take this more active approach to news consumption.
But I don’t like this narrow view of the Google Reader (or other RSS readers). RSS is not just for news. Sure, news are an important part of Really Simple Syndication, but it’s not the only one. There are many others – Wiki updates, mailing lists, commit messages, shopping updates for deals and stock clearances, etc. Even if Google considers supporting those with Google+, the support is not there yet. Heck, there isn’t even a publishing API for Google+. As a blogger, I have built up a small audience of subscribers, but there is currently no way for me to transfer them all to Google+. Unless I really push them, and then manually publish every post into Google+. It even sounds ridiculous.
We’ll see how it plays out …
After the news of Google Reader demise broke out, I, like many others, started looking for an alternative. There are many RSS readers out there, both free and commercial, but none of them is quite like Google Reader. So, I thought, I’d share my adventures in hopes of more suggestions.
First of all, here are the things that I am looking for in an RSS reader:
- Web based. This is a requirement for me. I want to be able to access my subscriptions from any computer connected to the World Wide Web.
- OPML import and/or Google Reader synchronization. I have around 300 feeds in the Google Reader currently. I am not going to resubscribe to each one by one and reorganized them again. Ideally, I want to have a Google Reader sync, which will mark the read items, etc. In the worst case scenario, at least the OMPL import, so I can batch add all the feeds.
- Rich content support. I want to see embed images and videos in the feed items. I want the text to have style.
- Mobile app. This is not a requirement per se, but a much wanted option. I read a lot of RSS on the go.
- Free. Again, not a requirement, but a much wanted option.
Here is a list of the ones I tried:
- The Old Reader. It looks like the old Google Reader, but it suffers now from all the spike of new accounts. I’m trying to import my OPML, but I’m 30,000+ down in the queue. The number keeps going up and down for the last two days, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to actually use the service.
- Tiny Tiny RSS. I’ve installed it on my server and it does work somewhat well. But the styling is very weak, and the experience is quite different from the Google Reader. It will take me forever to get used to it, and while doing so, I’ll be constantly thinking of patching it up. Removed, for now.
- BazQux Reader. I have reviewed this service a while ago. It only got better with time. In fact, this is the closest experience to Google Reader with a few extra bonuses, like item comments. The service is not free, but not too pricey – choose between $9, $19, and $29 per year. As far as the migration from Google Reader goes, this is the fastest service – two clicks, and you are already reading your feeds. The only downside I see is mobile experience. I couldn’t find the app for Android, and the website is not suited for smaller screens.
- Feedly. The best styling of all I’ve tried. Nice mobile app. But requires a browser extension on the desktop. Also, the experience is a bit different from the Google Reader, so needs some getting used to.
So, as you can see, I am yet to decide. There are also quite a few alternatives that I haven’t tried yet. From the ones I’ve tried though, the two most likely candidates are Feedly and BazQux Reader. Feedly looks beautiful and works well on the mobile. BazQux Reader provides the best experience on the desktop.
Which ones have you tried and what’s your most likely alternative? Have you made up your mind yet?