The End of Google Reader: 3 Alternatives
Recently, Google announced that they were retiring Google Reader, nearly 8 years after its inception. The reasoning behind this is provided by Alan Green, a software engineer, via the Google Reader blog:
“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”
Although, Brian Shih, a former Google Reader Product Manager, has said that its downfall may have stemmed from Google+. More on that can be found here.
It’s going to be completely gone from July 1st, with Google giving us a few months to say our goodbyes, and of course, find an alternative feed reader. In light of this, I’ve been researching and using a plethora of RSS readers recently, and I’ve chosen three Google Reader alternatives.
Kicking things off is Feedly, which is probably the main contender to take the reins from Google Reader, seeing as they state on their home page that over 3 million people have already made the switch. Feedly comes in the form of either a mobile app or a browser extension, and you can connect your Google Reader settings and subscriptions within seconds. The folk at Feedly have also stated that they’re working on a project entitled Normandy, a Google Reader API clone which will ensure that users will be able to seamlessly make the transition, and will be able to use Feedly long after Google Reader’s days are over.
Content is very easy to accrue and organise, with the help of the +Add Content tab, where you can sift through several subjects instantly, and you can of course search for your own subjects/feeds. Adding the feed is simple, as you simply click the “+” symbol next to the desired feed, and name its category. Laying everything out and organisation is simple and effective, I’ll speak more about that later.
One of the main draws of this reader is the sizable amount of customisation. Whether you want a minimalist style, or a layout laced with a myriad of imagery in a magazine/card style, or even full articles, you can do everything to your choosing with use of the Preferences and Themes tabs.
You can also individualise your customisations for each of your subscribed lists. For example, if you have a list related to videos or imagery, you can opt for a magazine/card layout, whilst having a more simplistic layout for articles, as pictured.
This reader also has great social integration, with the ability to share content throughout all social media outlets with ease.
To wrap things up, I must say that after using Feedly for a while and having a general play around; it’s certainly one of the best readers out there. It’s very simple to use and organise, as well as being very customisable and aesthetically pleasing. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens in regards to their Normandy project, and even what happens when they add a paid option, which Feedly have said is on the cards.
NetVibes is a web-based reader which has actually been around as long as Google Reader, as both launched in 2005. It seems to be more geared towards professionals, as NetVibes offers a whole lot more than just an RSS reader.
There are a few versions of NetVibes, with there being a free version, a VIP version (less than $3.50 p/m) which gives you access to VIP support, and a Premium option which would take a hefty chunk out of your wallet, coming in at $499 a month. With the premium option, NetVibes becomes much more than an RSS reader and looks towards more professional users as previously mentioned, with access to analytics, tagging, more powerful search, etc.
NetVibes is a vastly customisable reader. To start off with, there is a tab at the top of the screen which can switch from either a widget-based dashboard, or a classic reader view. The widget view is interesting, as you can add/remove widgets as you please, as well as customise each of them to your liking, in regards to position on the dashboard, size, what is contained within the widget, etc. The reader view can be viewed in either a plain list, mosaic or expanded style.
There is another tab (which looks like an equaliser), which can help you change the theme of your layout, with hundreds of different options, as well as the ability to create your own aesthetic.
In regards to gathering content, you can’t simply connect to Google Reader; you’re going to have to download your subscriptions via Google Takeout, and then import them into NetVibes via the Add Content tab. Searching for feeds/widgets is very simply.
From the aforementioned Add Content tab, you can search for feeds, or you can browse several categories and take a gander at hundreds of feeds, with the ability to sort by location, popularity, type (podcasts/feeds/applications), etc.
In summary, I think that NetVibes is a fine alternative to Google Reader. There’s certainly a LOT more going on, especially if you fancy spending $499 a month for all the bells and whistles, but in terms of pure RSS functionality, it works very well indeed. Though you wouldn’t be using the majority of the tool’s functions, you can very easily get a Google Reader experience with NetVibes.
The third and final option which I’ll speak about is The Old Reader, a web-based reader which judging by the name and style, is certainly one of the more obvious choices out of the possible Google Reader alternatives.
Everything is, as previously mentioned, inspired by an older Google Reader style, with everything being very clean and minimalistic. You can view your feeds in either a list form (as pictured), or in a full view which contains a snippet of the article, alongside options to share the article.
Social integration is certainly a factor in this reader, with the ability to share content from your subscriptions, as well as the ability to connect Google/Facebook accounts in order to connect with contacts from those products.
When it comes to adding content to your dashboard, you can import your Google Reader subscriptions via the aforementioned Google Takeout method. This in mind, you may have to be a bit patient, seeing as you’re put into an import queue. Considering that this has gone from a project ran by three friends to a possible Google product replacement used by over 150,000 people, it’s rather understandable. You can also input the URL of a feed, and you’ll be subscribed instantly.
This one’s a bit shorter than the previous two, due to the crisp simplicity of this reader. Overall, I’d say that The Old Reader is certainly one of the more viable Google Reader alternatives. In terms of pure functionality and style, this is a fine, fine choice.
So, seeing as Google Reader will soon be no more, what are you guys going to be replacing it with? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.