Pop! goes the Weasel: Google Reader Shutdown & Other RSS Readers

Pop goes the Weasel!

It’s the first day of summer, and if you haven’t done your Spring cleaning, it’s getting a little late. Specifically, I mean cleaning out your Google Reader feeds before it disappears on the first of July (about a week from now). It’s part of Google’s whole “don’t be evil” mission, you know? (Pardon the sarcasm.) The decision of Google to close down Reader (and iGoogle, too, not too long from now) is heralded by many as foolishness on their part. My favorite comment thus far on the topic came from a Facebook conversation on alternative RSS readers, to which Steve Wollkind replied,

Person looks poleaxed, with bugged out eyes and sucked in lips“I had just been assuming that as soon as Reader shut down there would simply be no more blogs and I would not need a replacement.”

Ah, such subtle wit! Irregardless, we still have to deal with it.

For me personally, this is not a big deal, because I quit using Google Reader years ago, when I started using Twitter so much. On the other hand, I’m starting to think that I might need to revisit this decision, and this is an excellent opportunity to do so. My friends, however, feel less ambiguity. I’ve been asked several times for recommendations of alternatives. Since I’m not the best person to ask, I’ve been scouring the interwebz for what seems to be emerging as the best options, and why people are making those choices. First, the two I’m seeing mention most often are Feedly and Old Reader, but there are a world of other options in addition.


Feedly: http://www.feedly.com/

Feedly supports both a web version and mobile, with Android and iOS as the mobile platforms supported. It is incredibly easy to import your feeds. I couldn’t find a way to log out once I was logged in, and when logged in I was unable to access the “About” page or other pertinent information about the service. Here are the main links for people thinking about choosing Feedly.

Transitioning from Google Reader to feedly: http://blog.feedly.com/2013/03/14/google-reader/

Tips for Google Reader users migrating to feedly: http://blog.feedly.com/2013/03/14/tips-for-google-reader-users-migrating-to-feedly/

Feedly Cloud is Now Available to All Users: http://blog.feedly.com/2013/06/19/feedly-cloud/

[IMPORTANT] Preparing to be upgraded to the new feedly cloud http://blog.feedly.com/2013/06/17/important-preparing-to-be-upgraded-to-the-new-feedly-cloud/

Hands down, I’m hearing more buzz about Feedly than any of the other tools, however, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all feed reader. Here is a nice synopsis of what people like about it:

David Pogue: Google’s Aggregator Gives Way to an Heir: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/technology/personaltech/three-ways-feedly-outdoes-the-vanishing-google-reader.html

Most people like it. There are a few who don’t. For some people, concerns center around interface, for others it is supported platforms and integration across them. For others it is technical details and information handling. The comment that caught my eye was this one.

“I can say again that Feedly does badly with large-volume feeds and lost unread items when I tried it, so that is not an alternative to me.” Jan Moren: https://plus.google.com/105059362788808645801/posts/7TJE86U7NQc

As someone who tends to break almost every tech system or service I touch through sheer high-volume / high-speed use, this is a red flag for me.

Old Reader

The Old Reader
The Old Reader: http://theoldreader.com/

Getting my Google Reader into Old Reader was definitely more complicated.

1. Create account on Old Reader.
2. Login to your Google Reader account.
3. Go to Settings.
4. Choose tab “Import/Export”
5. Click on “Download your data through Takeout”
6. Click on the large red button that says “Create Archive”.
7. Check box “Email me when ready.”
8. Download OPML file.
9. Back to Old Reader, who say: “Choose an OPML file. You can grab it from Google Reader settings page. Please use subscriptions.xml from your takeout archive.”
10. Click on “Choose file,” and navigate to the OPML file.
11. Click on the Import button.
12. Alternatively, rebuild the account by adding feeds individually one at a time: Old Reader Tour http://theoldreader.com/pages/tour

For me, Google hung while exporting the file, so I will have to try again later. Don’t let this wait.

Old Reader is web-based, with no mobile app at this time, although they say they are working on it. Some concerns were expressed that it may not be long-lived, since it is in beta, or may lack support. Those who like it say it gives an authentic ‘feel’ very much like Google Reader. Here is one report comparing it with Feedly favorably, despite having clear reservations about both products.

Jim Stitzel: Feedly vs The Old Reader: The Final Result: http://jimstitzel.com/2013/04/feedly-vs-the-old-reader-the-final-result/


There have been a lot of snarky comments about people who think Twitter can be used as a feedreader, but that’s not why to revisit it. There are also a lot of people making comments about people who want to use Flipboard or Pulse as a Reader replacement. There is even someone who suggested Pinterest!! The reason behind the snark is primarily that, technically, these are not RSS readers at all, but simply a different interface for browsing content. Some are really magazine readers, some news readers. Others focus on other specific types of content or only browse content from selected sources. A true RSS reader uses the RSS or ATOM specifications, and will handle the data from any source the provides it in that format. The difference between technical definitions and functional applications is what drives much of the conversation around Google Reader replacements.

I’ve been collecting thoughts, suggestions, and commentary from several places, but most notably from these three. I mined the conversations that occurred around the first two posts in Google Plus and Friendfeed, and the third was an email quoting Paul Lai (@pylduck) sent to TRANLIB that was forwarded to me.

松本呉 (Matsumoto Wu?): Google Reader replacements: https://plus.google.com/117304281612077152424/posts/d8v25XUDnnD

LSW: Blake: So after a thorough review of every RSS Reader out there I think I’ve settled on http://newsblur.com/: http://friendfeed.com/lsw/110adb00/so-after-thorough-review-of-every-rss-reader-out?embed=1

Here are the main criteria I’ve distilled from the various comments about what people do and don’t like as they migrate to new readers.

PLATFORM (desktop version, web, which web browsers supported, mobile, which OS is supported, ease of switching between devices and platforms / platform jumping)

INTERFACE (visual appeal, able to change from grid to list to post layouts, folder support, hide/show sidebar, sorting)

FUNCTIONS (only show streams with new posts, in-app sharing, social sharing, read later flag, favoriting)

ESSENTIAL (update speed, interface speed, cost)

SUPPORT (in beta, one-man shop, how long has it been around, user base)

CONTROL (import/export, archiving, personalization)

EXTRAS (add-ons, widgets, embeds, integration with other tools)

GEEK FACTOR (open source, Linux, keyboard shortcuts, memory allocation)

Other RSS Readers

This is not a collection of all RSS readers, but only those mentioned positively in the places I was reading background content for this post. Services and tools listed here are all those for which someone said this was what they were using or recommending instead of Google Reader. I am not judging their choices, but including them even if some of them baffle me. Not included in this list is the new RSS reader due out from Digg next week, because it has no direct link yet, There is a lot of buzz about it. Here is some of it: The Atlantic, Digg Blog, Yahoo News.

Akregator: http://userbase.kde.org/Akregator
Bloglines: http://www.bloglines.com/
Bloglovin: http://www.bloglovin.com/
CommaFeed: http://commafeed.com
Feed on Feeds: http://sourceforge.net/projects/feedonfeeds/
FeedDemon: http://www.feeddemon.com/
Feedfiend: http://feedfiend.com
FeedReader: http://www.feedreader.com/
Fever: http://feedafever.com
Flipboard: http://flipboard.com/
Lightread (Linux): https://launchpad.net/lightread
Mobile RSS: http://www.mobilerssapp.com/
NetNewsWire Lite: http://netnewswireapp.com/
Netvibes: http://www.netvibes.com/en
News Bento: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/news-bento/7d008fc1-8f63-4283-8297-33471fc2b882
NewsBlur: http://www.newsblur.com/
Next Gen Reader http://nextmatters.com/ OR http://ngreader.wordpress.com/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/
Protopage: http://www.protopage.com/
Pulse: https://www.pulse.me/
Read: http://signup.readapp.com/?r=https://www.google.com/
ReadApp: http://www.readapp.net/
Reeder: http://reederapp.com/
RSSBook: http://rssbook.dataconcerto.com/
RSSOwl (Desktop): http://www.rssowl.org/
SharpReader: http://www.sharpreader.net/
Skimr: http://www.skimr.co/
Sparse RSS: http://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdfilter=rss&fdid=de.shandschuh.sparserss
Tiny Tiny RSS: http://tt-rss.org/redmine/projects/tt-rss/wiki
Vienna RSS: http://www.vienna-rss.org/
Yahoo Reader: http://my.yahoo.com/s/about/ SEE: http://developer.yahoo.com/rss/
YARSSR (Yet Another RSS Reader): http://yarssr.sourceforge.net/
Zite: http://www.zite.com/


C|Net: Google Reader is dying, but we have five worthy alternatives: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-57574201-233/google-reader-is-dying-but-we-have-five-worthy-alternatives/

Gizmag: The best Google Reader replacements: http://www.gizmag.com/best-google-reader-alternatives-2013/26643/

Gizmodo: What’s the Best RSS Reader Not Named Google Reader?: http://gizmodo.com/5990464/whats-the-best-rss-reader-not-named-google-reader

HineSight: Google Reader is going away. Panicky, I buy Reeder.: http://hinessight.blogs.com/hinessight/2013/03/google-reader-is-going-away-panicky-i-buy-reeder-.html

Lifehacker: Five Best Google Reader Alternatives: http://lifehacker.com/5990881/five-best-google-reader-alternatives

Lifehacker: Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives: http://lifehacker.com/5990456/google-reader-is-getting-shut-down-here-are-the-best-alternatives

Mashable: Yahoo Should Seize the Moment and Improve Its RSS Reader: http://mashable.com/2013/03/15/yahoo-rss/

Slashdot: Four Google Reader Alternatives: http://slashdot.org/topic/cloud/four-google-reader-alternatives/

Webtrends: Using MyYahoo as an RSS Reader: http://webtrends.about.com/od/webfeedsyndicationrss/a/myyahoo_rss.htm

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