The news of Google Reader being closed down on July 1, 2013 has turned out to be good for many RSS feed clients. One such service tasting success is Feedly. As Google Reader users are moving to find decent alternatives, Feedly through its blog post announced that over 3 million users were added onto Feedly in just two weeks.
Feedly – The unofficial heir of Google Reader
Feedly was launched in 2008 and has grown its user base to 4 million users prior. This was before Google announced it was shutting down Google Reader. Feedly has taken advantage by updating and launching Feedly Mobile client for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android phones and tablets.
It has also designed add-ons or extensions for browsers like Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Feedly claims now that they are serving upto 50 million feeds.
With the speed Feedly has managed to snag Google Reader users, it can be said that it is now fast becoming the ruler of the space being vacated by Google Reader.
Interest in RSS Feeds is back!
Digg too has recently announced a new project on building a alternative for Google reader. Currently Digg’s plans are still far from reality and it will probably take a few weeks if not months before they launch an a good feed reader product.
RSS feeds are getting more attention today than ever. RSS feeds will survive and thrive until Google shuts-down Feedburner. That will be a major setback but shutting down feedburner for Google will be tricky given its importance to the Blogger.com platform.
As Google decided to say goodbye to Reader, a lot of my friends who are bloggers ended up being angry and sad. I am no exception, I am totally disappointed with Google for being so soulless but I think with time the anger will be gone.
There is already a mad scramble for finding Google Reader alternatives and we will surely find one or two companies come up with a worthy replacement over time.
But there is big lesson to be learnt from Google Reader’s impending demise. That lesson is do not fall in love with free products or services.
Free services are never truly ours!
I spent a lot of time on Google Reader. I created folders and shared bundles. This was time that I gave to Google Reader and it enriched my experience and possibly others too. All that is gone and its mainly because I do not own my data. I might be able to download it but I won’t be able to use it the same with with another service.
Lets take a look at all the free services we use. Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google Search and so many more services. I love these services but with the end of Google Reader, I realise that all our data on these services is not really ours. We spend hours on Facebook and Twitter but really do we get out of it as much as we give it. We give our time, upload our photos, get social interactions.
Yes, we can back-up our data from Facebook but can we take the social interaction to another service? No, we cannot. If I am unhappy with Facebook and move to Google+, I have to start from scratch. The same goes vice-versa.
To be honest I am glad that Google Reader was built on RSS feeds. I could take my RSS feeds to another reader or app and continue without too many issues.
Sure I will miss Google Reader but I won’t exactly feel I have to start from scratch. Now what if Facebook closed down? I might be able to move my photos and download my updates. Even backup my contact lists but what about the countless social interactions which make our social networking experience truly rich.
Lesson for Bloggers!
This is a big lesson for bloggers. If you are using a free service like Blogger.com or WordPress.com you might want to rethink your strategy. These blogging platforms are free and host your content free. They are likely to remain free for a long time to come. But what if one of them closes down? What happens to your years of writing and building a community? Maybe if you blog very actively, it might be a good idea to buy yourself a domain and some hosting.
Atleast data from blog (including comments) can be migrated but I know many who create great content only for their social networking pages and profiles. That is a very risky thing to do and it is better to truly own your content.
Let us be fair to Google
I started this post saying I was angry with Google but to be fair to them, I can see that Google Reader was a product that was not exactly going to grown. This is where smaller companies like Flipboard and Feedly might thrive as their core business will be dealing with managing feeds.
It is interesting to note that no other big web company like Facebook, Yahoo or Microsoft has a half decent competitor to Google Reader. Google has just gone back to its core competency, which is big data and the data from Google Reader I suspect was not large enough.
Google has announced to stop supporting Google Reader and shut it down as a service. This will be a big blow people who consume most of their information using RSS feeds. I for one visit Google Reader several times a day to check on the latest posts from my favorite blogs. Google Reader will shut down on July 1, 2013. That leaves users about three months to find something new.
Google suggests that dwindling usage and focus on newer things at Google is the reason for shutting down the service. I will be very surprised they just allowed these users to move to other platforms and not give users something useful with Google+.
If you are thinking of using FeedDemon, a service that is similar to Google Reader, then think again. FeedDemon too announced they will be shutting down their service as it was dependent on Google Reader for synchronization.
RSS is Dying!
The fact is RSS feeds are dying. Check major news publications and they do not support RSS feeds. It is a simple option but it never caught on. Media consumption is being done through more and more via social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and more are all allowing users to consume and discover content. The advantage with RSS feeds is you had a lot more control over the type of content you were to discover. The disadvantage is that you do not easily come across newer type of content, blogs and writers. That lack of social layer on RSS feeds is what is making it unpopular over time.
The best part of RSS feed readers is that we were not stuck with one. We can more from one service to another. I cannot do that with Facebook. For instance I cannot move my Facebook lists to Twitter or Google+. Social media controls your data and makes you stay loyal but making it difficult for you to move it away to another social network.
The saddest part of this is that I doubt some new startup will actually find a way to leverage the loss of Google Reader. This is because no successful start-up company would ever work at providing a service where the number of users are actually shrinking. RSS feeds are simply all set to die.
Google might kill Feedburner!
Google might kill off another product called Feedburner soon. This was basically a RSS feed manager and is a very popular tool for bloggers. If you are reading this post on a RSS feed or on email (because you subscribed to it)it is being served to you through Feedburner.
Feedburner has also suffered a lot of neglect from Google and I won’t be surprised that a year from now Google Reader and Feedburner was something that safely belonged to the distant past.
I’ve been a long time user of Google Reader, and though RSS might sound old school to a lot of people, it works for me. Unlike Windows, which has very few good RSS readers (and most of them are ugly, seriously), Mac has got a lot of news readers to choose from.
Reeder is essentially a RSS reader for your Mac which actually sync with your Google Reader (so all your subscribed blogs, starred items, etc. are still there).
Reeder is really beautiful in design, with a very Mac-ish look, i.e having a gray feeling all over it which makes user focus on the content.
It has a three column layout allowing you to switch between two themes. You can also customize the tint, texture, contrast etc., which will make the app more reading-friendly.
One really good thing about Reeder is that, it supports a lot of sharing services including Pocket, Readability, Evernote, App.net and a lot more. If you’re running Mountain Lion, Reeder will use system wide Facebook, Twitter and iMessage sharing feature.
The app supports multi touch gestures and a bunch of keyboard shortcuts which are configurable, too.
Reeder isn’t filled with lot of features, but that’s what makes it so usable. The app isn’t free, you can get it for 4.99$ on the Mac Appstore. It is also available for iPad and iPhone.
Following a blog on RSS reader is a great way to keep track of your blog subscriptions. I literally follow hundreds of blogs and never feel overwhelmed thanks to Google Reader.
Reading a post on Google Reader is usually a great experiance, especially if the content is complete. Unfortunately sometimes the content is only a description or introduction and one has to click on the title link of the post to open it on a different tab of the browser.
If you are reading this post on Google Reader, chances are you are aware of it’s new user interface design. The new redesign has removed all the old social features. This includes all the people you were following and the posts they shared via Google Reader and all your shared posts along with ‘Likes’ to a post.
This change might have angered some regular Reader users and they might want to move their data on Google Reader or even backup data like who their contacts were on Reader.
Google Reader has new Import functions which allow users to download specific data they had on Google Reader which might not be available now with the new design.
Google Reader Data Backup
Sign-into your Google Reader account and look up settings.
Under settings move to the Import/Export tab.
Here users can download all the activity stream data along with even all your subscriptions.
I like to create a backup file of all my subscriptions so I could share it with friends who do not want to use Google Reader and are prefer something else.
I am still getting used to the new layout and yes, I guess I will miss the old social features which are replaced by Google+. But I might start sharing on Google+; which might be what Google wants in the first place.
What are your views on the new layout? Do drop in you comments.
Being an avid user of Google Reader, I’ve been waiting for the interface revamp which other Google services like Docs, Translate etc. got long ago. This morning Google Reader started rolling out their new interface and also integrating with Google+.
That’s how Reader looks, now. You can see they have made the interface very clear and crisp, which is needed for a feed reader. You can now ‘+1’ any article using the +1 button embedded at the bottom of every post.
Upset over Redesign!
Some regular Google Reader users; will lament the loss of human curation; which was possible by following other users who would often ‘share’ or ‘like’ interesting posts on Google Reader itself. As these carefully networked has been done away with by Google and it probably understandable as they want to push the use of Google+.
Unfortunately this has upset some Iranians. That’s because almost every social network is banned in Iran, and the only way to connect and share content with others was through Reader’s social features.
If you use Reader’s social features, you can now export your shared items and all from Reader settings.
I’ve been using Google Reader since a long time, from the day I started blogging. But lately I’ve searching for some alternatives and Feedly was a perfect match for me. I know it’s definitely hard to switch from a service after using for years, but Feedly is worth a try.
(Click on image for enlarged version)
When it comes to interface, Google Reader is still orthodox, leave themes aside, but the basic interface is ugly. For feed readers, interface matters, because I spend a lot of time in it.
Feedly with its magazine style layout, supports themes, with around 20 skins available. The navigation is clutter free, unlike Google Reader. There’s a lot of empty space to breathe and overall it’s very clean and fluid.
#2. Reading Experience
In Feedly, you can choose the layout of the posts – magazine, timeline, tiles etc. Forget about Instapaper, Read It Later and all, you can save stories for reading later in Feedly. If you want to visit a blog without leaving the article you’re reading, you can do that by using the ‘preview article’ button.
You can also discover new content using ‘Feedly Essentials’. To get most out of Feedly, it’s good to install Feedly Mini – A browser addon which lets you add any site to your Feedly and share the page you’re reading.
#3. Social Reading
If you use Google Reader ‘shared items’ feature, then you’ll love to use the same feature on Feedly too. Apart from that, you can connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Feedly which grabs and shows tweets and links shared by your friends. You can tweet right from your Feedly.
Every post will have an array of social sharing buttons.
#4. Read Everywhere
The best part of Feedly is that, it’s available on all the major Operating Systems including iOS & Android along with supporting browsers like Chrome & Firefox.
#5. Google Reader is dormant, Feedly isn’t
After launch of Google+, almost all the Google services like Docs, Translate, Gmail etc. have got a new interface but Google Reader isn’t among them. Google Reader’s look and feel can hardly be customized, though there are 3rd party services like Reader Plus.
Feedly is different, they constantly push updates and release new version of apps.
Apart from all these points, the fact that it perfectly syncs with your Google Reader should compel you to make the switch.
If you are interested in a better designed reader which works and syncs on any mobile platform, try out Feedly and drop in your comments.
UPDATE: Readings the service has been made unavailable at the moment.
There are many apps which act as replacement for Google Reader (Feedly, for instance), but I never liked any of them. Reason is simple, I can’t cope up with their interface, which is completely different from that of Google Reader. On the other hand, Readings is something similar to Google Reader and that’s why I like it.
Readings is a new feed reader, especially for those who are bored with Google Reader. You may call it as a Modern Google Reader.
Where ‘Readings’ is better than Google Reader
Start Page: Readings shows the top stories from the sites you’ve subscribed to, the relevancy of the top stories will certainly increase after it gains a considerable amount of users. Google Reader’s start page doesn’t show top stories, it just shows the articles from the feeds you’ve subscribed.
Subscribing to Feeds: You get a nice list of top blogs in Readings, you can narrow the results by selecting the category. You can also subscribe to the feed of a specific author (like me!) so, even if the author writes on more than one blog, you will be getting the articles and Google Reader can’t do this.
Interface: Readings’ interface is neat and simple, it also makes use website favicons, nothing more to say here.
Sharing: I’m not at all satisfied with sharing options provided by Google Reader, but Readings rocks in sharing articles! Irrespective of the feed you’re viewing, you can see the Facebook like, send and Tweet buttons, and at the end of the each article an Add this widget is also embedded.
Readability: You can change the font size from the left sidebar while reading an article, don’t have any time to read your favorite article? Click on Read Later and you can read it from the Unread sectionafterwards, no need of Instapaper! They do provide a handy bookmarklet to send interesting articles to Unread section!
Where it could improve…
Subscribing To Feeds: I said subscribing to feeds in Readings is easy and better than that of Google Reader but wait, there’s a big disadvantage, you can’t import feeds from a .opml file! I have subscribed to 30+ blogs and it will take some 10-15 minutes to subscribe to all the blogs (Readings take time to cook the feed, it’s not instant). While, this is not the case with Google Reader, you can easily import feeds there.
Organizing Feeds: In Google Reader, I have all my feeds categorized and that keeps my Google Reader organized, now, you can’t do this on Readings! You can’t create folders (or tags) and drop feeds into it as you do in Google Reader.
No Unread Count: The Unread count in Google Reader gives you an idea of how many articles are left unread, Readings lacks this.
Customizing The App: You can customize Google Reader to the deepest using Reader Plus and many such apps but will developers come forward to develop add-ons for Readings? Certainly not!
Readings is pretty new, so there’s a scope of improvement, hope they will come up with new features in the future. Do drop in your comments.
As a tech blogger, I need to catch the latest tech news and updates daily. Thanks to Google Reader, it saves me a lot of time as I don’t need to check each site individually. The Chrome Webstore has some really nice extensions to extend the ability of Google Reader such as converting partial feeds to full feeds, adding custom themes etc.
#1. Google Reader Minimalist
This browser extension increases readability of Google Reader, you can remove up to 50 unnecessary interface elements like Google bar, logo, search, footer etc and set custom item width, custom CSS and even keyboard shortcuts, thus makes Google Reader less distracting. It comes from the home of Minimalist extensions.
The previously mentioned extension is an all-in-one tool for Google Reader. It comes with 30+ themes which change the way you use Google Reader, if you aren’t satisfied with those skins, you can also apply iGoogle themes. You can add custom favicons, fix the unread count, remove advertisements and much more. You can also add new sharing options (which are not present in Google Reader’s sendto menu) like Addthis, Read it later and more.
#3. Super Google reader | Full text RSS feed builder
It’s a common practice among popular news aggregators and blogs to offer partial feeds instead of full feeds, with partial feeds, the reader is given a short excerpt of the post and then he needs to read the rest of the post on the respective blog/site. This will be quite irritating and time consuming, hopefully we have two solutions here. They are –
Use Full text RSS feed builder to convert partial feeds to full feeds, you just need to enter the URL of the partial feed you want to convert to full feed and then the app will give you the URL of the full feed within seconds to which you need to subscribe.
The above method will be time consuming if you have a lot of partial feeds in your Google Reader, here’s an easy workout, download Super Google Reader extension, you can access full feed of any partial feed you’re viewing by clicking the Readable tab, If you want to read the article from the site itself, then click the Link tab.
#4. Google Reader Play Bookmarklet
Google Reader Play has a highly visually appealing interface, especially when you’re reading a media-rich article, switching to Google Reader play is the best option. With this Bookmarklet you can enjoy the current article on Google Reader play with a single click.
Don’t want to miss any of your Google Reader articles? Then enter Google Reader notifier, it will display the unread count and clicking the extension will preview the latest unread articles. Simple and effective.
PS: Clicking the links in the Reader preview will take you to the original link of article not the link associated with Google Reader (feed link).
I must say this is the best extension I have ever found to spice up my Google Reader, having 1000+ articles in my reader it’s very hard for me to skim through every post, now Post Rank comes to the rescue. It gives grades (good, great and best) to all the posts so I can segregate the best from the worst! 😀 It analyzes the engagement activity (tweets, facebook shares, diggs etc) and rates them accordingly.
Want to track changes of a webpage even though it doesn’t provide its feed? Page2RSS is perfect for you! You can subscribe using Google Reader, Bloglines, Yahoo!, Netvibes and even through Email! Just click the extension on the page whose changes you want to track and select your reader.