Alas, Google Reader is Dead. What are the Alternatives?
We protested. We petitioned. But Google was dead to our pleas, and yesterday announced that Google Reader, one of the world’s most popular RSS readers, will be shutting down on July 1, 2013. The Google Reader blog stated:
We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too. There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.”
While it’s true that the need for traditional RSS readers has reduced, thanks in part to Twitter and apps such as Flipboard, Google Reader — and RSS in general — is still really useful at piping through the news for those who follow a lot of feeds.
Twitter itself is trending with howls of anguish, cries of Whyyyyy? (Looks like Google+ may be the answer to that one) and info-swapping on alternatives.
As Chris Taylor on Mashable puts it: “Google Reader is a tremendously useful product; there’s almost nothing like it. When Twitter is full of too much snark and not enough signal, when Flipboard and Pulse and other newsreading apps give you too many pretty pictures and not enough stories per page, there’s Google Reader.”
Bad news for third parties
Christina Warren on Mashable points out that the death of Google Reader spells big problems for dozens of third-party apps such as FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, Reeder, and Pulp all of which rely on Google Reader for subscription and sync information.
Alternatives to Google Reader
Of the alternatives, these seem to be worth checking out:
Feedly – free, iOS/Android/web, offering transition from Google reader and some built-in sharing tools (à la old school Google Reader). @feedly is working very hard right now, helping users get themselves set up.
Fever – ranks news for ‘hotness’, but as a self-hosted web app it’s not for everyone and it costs $30.
Newsblur – freemium or $1 a month, iOS/Android/web. Includes sharing too, and a learning system.
Taptu – free, iOS/Android/web. You can add Twitter and Facebook feeds, and customise them. Like Pulse (see below) with lots of eye candy.
The Old Reader – free, web. Still in beta, offers sharing and to import feeds from your Google Reader account. No mobile app yet.
Managing News – free, web, no mobile. Like Fever, you’ll need to install Managing News on your own server and do a lot of fiddling under the bonnet.
NetVibes – iOS/Android. Freemium or brand monitoring paid version. An old service, good as a monitoring tool, but no mobile apps and not as fast as Google Reader.
Rolio – free, web, not on mobile yet. You can import your Google reader feeds.
Prismatic – free iOS app. Sign in with your Google login to access your news. Prismatic delivers to you based on your interests.
Google Currents – free, iOS/Android. No web. A hybrid magazine viewer and RSS reader in one, similar to Flipboard.
GoodNoows – web app and free. Starts you off based on feeds from your social networks, which you can then customise.
Flipboard – free, iOS/Android. No web service, designed for mobile only, this free app presents your news in a magazine format. You can import from Google Reader, but NextBigWhat advises against doing this. It’s better to start from scratch.
Export your Google Reader data
To get your data out of Google Reader to import into another reading service, you could go to Google Takeout (more instructions here), or by using preferences from Google Reader. Once you click preferences, go to Import/ Export and select “Download your data through Takeout.” (A tip from NextBigWhat: Most apps or feed readers won’t let you import the Zip file you downloaded with Google take out. Open the Zip file and extract the Subscriptions.xml file which most readers will recognize. You will see readers asking for “OPML file.” If you are a noob, it’s likely to confuse you. Use the Subscriptions.xml file here as well.)
Check out more
This is just a quick summary of what’s available. For a more detailed run-down on the alternatives to Google Reader, dry your tears and check out Mashable’s list (and the comments below), CNET’s list, the Guardian crowd-sourcing alternatives here and the list on NextBigWhat. And please share any of your recommendations or experiences with news readers in our comments section below.
Still don’t want to make the switch?
A new petition has been started up with over 47,000 signatures at the time of writing. That’s a strong protest: maybe Google will listen?
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