Google Reader has long been the best RSS aggregator available. It arrived on the scene in 2005 and quickly overtook the competition. I switched from Bloglines to Google Reader shortly after it was released and never looked back. Their web app is excellent, and their Android app is pretty solid too, even if not as advanced as some of its competitors’ offerings. Its robust API is also the foundation for most mobile RSS apps.
Although RSS has never really taken off with the masses, those of us who are more technologically inclined consider it one of the most useful and efficient ways to keep up with content from multiple sources.
The End of Google Reader
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
It’s not because a better product came along and stole their market share. It’s not because RSS is dead. Rather, Google is cleaning house and refocusing its resources.
On that note, this tweet made me smile: “We need to focus. Keep the self-driving cars, magic glasses, laptop, handheld OS, and Brazilian social network. Ditch the feed reader.”
Replacing Google Reader
I don’t think there’s a comparable replacement for Google Reader. So if you go searching for one, you’re most likely going to be disappointed.
One option is to give up on RSS and use Twitter instead, since most sites push their RSS feed—either manually or automatically—to Twitter. Some will make that move, but I doubt most will be satisfied to ditch RSS entirely.
For those who want to stick with RSS, there are a few options that provide some of the same functionality. Here are the ones I’ve explored so far:
Digg also announced their plans to build an RSS reader.
For me, a viable replacement for Google Reader needs to have a robust web app and an Android app (an iPad app is optional, since I rarely use our iPad anymore). It also has to sync everything in the cloud for seamless integration between my desktop computer and Nexus 7. Finally, it needs to allow me to import and manage all my current feeds from Google Reader.
It seems that for now the best option is Feedly. It meets all my criteria above for a replacement—or at least it will in the near future. It has a nice “web app” (via a Chrome, Firefox, or Safari browser extension) and an Android app (with optional iOS app and Kindle Fire app), and it syncs your settings to the cloud.
It currently relies on Google Reader’s API, but they plan to build their own back-end system called Normandy—a clone of the Google Reader API—which will be released before July 1. They promise a smooth transition:
When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandy back end. So if you are a Google Reader user and using feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless.
It also has a nicely design user interface, is fairly customizable, uses the same keyboard shortcuts as Google Reader, and has nice integration with social and other sharing, storage, and reading applications.
I’ll continue to use Google Reader until it shuts down, but I’ll also start to slowly transition over to Feedly, unless a better alternative comes around between now and then.
What are your plans? Have you found something better than Feedly?
Update: The Old Reader looks like a decent option if you just want a web reader. It doesn’t have any mobile apps, and it doesn’t have a API that other apps can use. For me, that rules it out as an option. Currently, there’s a long waiting list to import your feeds from Google Reader. I currently see this message: “There are 29,478 users in the import queue ahead of you.”