Going beyond Google Reader, RIP

Google's ending of Google Reader announcement.

Don’t euthanize something so vital to so many.

Google just announced that they are going to shut down Google Reader, a very powerful and (until now) reliable RSS reader.

This is very bad news for my work.  I’m a researcher, and spend a lot of time in GR every single day.

So what next?  What alternatives are there? Is there a good replacement that’ll pick up my pile of GR feeds?

I’m firing up this post with the first answers I discover, and will update as they come in.

To be clear about my requirements: I need something for a laptop environment, primarily.  RSS feeds my research, which means lots of writing, multi-app work, etc.  Secondly, it should synch to Android, the phone platform I use.  That’s where I RSS when traveling.

NewsblurPossible successors to the Google Reader crown:

  • Newsblur.   Currently in the lead in Hacker News’ poll.  It’s hard to assess its quality, as the Blur site is apparently being hammered.  No luck with OPML upload yet.
  • Netvibes.  A browser-based dashboard tool. Here’s their guide to importing your OPML. (thanks to Veronica Pejril for the reminder)
  • Bloglines.  Old-school reader.  Sometimes I use this when teaching RSS, because of its simplicity.
  • Feedly.  Aimed at mobile devices.  It does play on the Windows desktop.  Instructions on migrating there from GR.
  • Prismatic. Looks Feedly-ish.  Can’t tell if it imports OPML yet. (thanks to Amanda Sturgill)
  • Fever, a/k/a Feedafever. Looks like you have to install it on your own server – here’s one description of the process. And another. (thanks to D’Arcy Norman and Steven Kaye)
  • The Old Reader. Seems to be a Web-based reader.  Currently overwhelmed by GR refugees. (thanks to Dimitris Tzouris and Grant Wythoff)
  • PressForward.  A WordPress plugin from the Center for History and New Media.  Currently in alpha.
  • BlogTrottr.  Sends RSS feed content to your email inbox.  Accepts OPML files easily. (Thanks to Michelle G)
  • Taptu. Looks like it’s best for mobile devices, not desktops. (via CNet)
  • Feedbooster. Web-based client a la Netvibes.  Imports OPML quickly.  Runs some interesting searches on the results.  (thanks to Mark Justman)

Which is best?  What else is there?

We should expect a burst of RSS reading innovation over the next few months, as eager developers rush into the Google-shaped space.  Feed Wrangler, for example, is in the works (more here).  Digg says they’re working on one (thanks to Our Level).

ADDED: More reactions, including a White House petition to nationalize Google (!), and Hitler’s inevitable response.

(thanks to Steven Kaye for the sad alert)

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49 Responses to Going beyond Google Reader, RIP

  1. My first thought, on loading Reader today, was that I needed a “Not OK” button. Google dropping Reader is sorely disappointing, but the good news is I’m hearing good things about Feedly.

    • Agreed, Kathleen.
      Will Feedly handle a big swarm of feeds? I’ve seen it only with little piles.

      • kfitz says:

        I’ve just migrated, and so far, so good. Feedly ingested my Reader categories and seems to be keeping up with my feeds quite well. And both the browser interface and the iOS app seem well-designed. (Admittedly, though, I don’t know what qualifies as a “big swarm” of feeds in the Bryan Alexander universe. I suspect what feels like a lot to may just be a little pile.)

      • I’ve got around 64 folders/categories of feeds, which is probably a cry for help, I know.

  2. Nathan Rein says:

    Never used NewsBlur. I think Feedly is a great tool. But, to be honest, I haven’t used ANY newsreaders to speak of in the last two years or so. I fall into the “RSS is dead” category. I subscribed to everything, then found myself overwhelmed with “interesting” information. I never had time to read it all, and I never had the energy or the will to prune my sources down to a manageable volume. So I fit the pundits’ trend pretty well as someone who nowadays gets my online news mostly via social media. Oddly, I tend to feel somewhat guilty about that, like I’m somehow being lazy by not “getting out there” and consuming news “properly,” but … there it is.

    • I used to be an RSS militant, Nathan. Wanted everyone to use it.
      Then I backed off a bit – not for the reason you cite, but because the process was too geeky for many (academic) users.
      But still mainlined RSS every day, personally. The big volume actually works for my purposes, since I need to track patterns across the landscape.

      Twitter, Facebook, etc are useful for getting _some_ signals, but not at the power level I require.

      • Nathan Rein says:

        Oh, I totally get that. I find Facebook and Twitter very unsatisfactory, not to say horrible, ways of getting news. On another level, I also find RSS to be a really intuitive and powerful technology. (I actually felt even more strongly about OPML back in the day. Why hasn’t that ever caught on more widely? You can do ANYTHING with it.) It’s just that I’ve never really found a way to consume RSS feeds on a regular basis that actually works effectively with my own habits, and I suspect I’m not alone in that.

      • I agree about the intuitive aspects, Nathan. It was hard to find if a site had an RSS feed, often. And RSS readers were often invisible, rarely discussed beyond geek circles.
        And yet! What a superb tool for info overload.

    • edwebb says:

      Nathan, I think the sense of guilt – which I share when I find myself not tending to the feeds enough – may be driven by a fear of homogenization of the conversation. Twitter often brings me the news I didn’t know I needed to know. But even with a diverse and well-curated follow list on Twitter, one tends to see a couple of themes or events dominating on any given day. When I catch up on what RSS is delivering, I often find gems which then become my contributions to theTwitter conversation. If there are not a fair number of us reading and sharing the great work that can appear on the less-visited blogs and news sites, will the conversation not become even more centralized and bland? It’s impossible to drink the firehose. But an ecology of diverse readers and sharers can really make the marketplace of ideas more vigorous. Tldr: prune your subs and find a reader that works for you.

      • Nathan Rein says:

        Yes, agreed on all counts. To quote the horse in Animal Farm, I will work harder!

      • There is a discipline involved, I agree, Ed. It’s curation, really – and that’s what any social media user must perform. We find, prune, reorganize our Twitter followings, podcast subscriptions, LinkedIn stalkees.

  3. Barbara says:

    Reblogged this on AECs and commented:
    After you read the suggestions in the original post, come back and tell us what reader you use. You are using a news reader, aren’t you?

  4. “best” is subjective. YMMV. I *love* Fever• http://feedafever.com

  5. davidjhinson says:

    I’m an old time user of Bloglines myself. I’ll have to show you the really nice “cease and desist” letter they sent me when I wrote a Bloglines reader app for iOS some years back.

  6. Feedly was super simple to transition onto. All it took was typing in the address and clicking login with Google credentials. Done. I’ve moved on and removed the Reder tab from my auto launch set.

  7. Is it still robust, David? Would love to see that letter. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Google Reader to Shut Down: Now What? - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

  9. Nathan Rein says:

    Might be a good time, as well, to revisit this nice little nugget of tech journalism from the end of last year:


  10. Amod Lele says:

    I have friends who swore by the pre-redesign Google Reader with its sharing features. (I don’t know anybody who particularly liked the redesigned version; that may have been the prelude to killing it off.) They’ve been speaking about “The Old Reader”: http://theoldreader.com/ I haven’t used it much yet, but it seems like it’s designed to make the transition as smooth as possible, as well as to maintain all the features of Google Reader (including the ones Google Reader is currently designed to have).

  11. Greetings, Amod. I’ve added TOR to the list. Site seemed to be hammered down right now, though.

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  14. Dave Truss says:

    I lived in Google Reader. Then I filled it so much that I was trying to drink from a fire hose. Then I let it sit. Then I narrowed the stream with a favourite folder. Then I fed that folder into FlipBoard and it is to this day my favourite morning read (of all the different streams I check in FlipBoard).

    That’s my long way of saying RSS is still something I want to keep alive.

    On a different note, this would seem to signal that Feedburner will soon die as yet another neglected Google service. This post seems to offer quite a few easy-to-transition alternative services… Will the same hold true for Feedburner?

    • VanessaVaile says:

      I’d keep both, big collection (I feed a lot of blogs and sundry projects) and have a favorites folder (as well as a 2nd tier overflow, a McGee’s closet). Feeding the favorites folder to different app for morning reading is a good idea but will have to wait on pruning the big one (ongoing but now in more intensive mode) and finding a new home.

    • Good question about Feedburner. We should probably plan against the possibility that Google ends it as well, Dave.

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  16. Thanks for this round-up, Bryan. I use Google Reader extensively. I’m exploring different options now. Bloglines is running verrrry slow; Feedly’s interface is frustrating (it’s hard to find the scrollbar with my laptop’s trackpad, I prefer an alphabetical list to a reverse chronological one and I can’t figure out how to change it, and I have to keep resetting my view preference for each folder of feeds); The Old Reader said it could only import 1,000 of my feeds, and there are more than 33,000 users ahead of me in the import queue, even after several days; and Goodnoows is slow and doesn’t appear to have a way to highlight (in boldface or otherwise) which feeds have new content. Next up: Newsblur. I may need to try D’Arcy’s solution of Fever.

    I’m surprised how few options there are out there for a primarily text-based, cross-platform news reader that works in a browser, not through e-mail. Can we blame Flipboard and Pinterest for all of the visually pretty but not particularly practical (at least for us power users) relative newcomers?

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  18. I think we can blame that magazine-style interface. People find those comforting analogs, and probably enjoy the (small) stream size.

  19. Steven Kaye says:

    So what are you using lately, Bryan.

    @lesliemb: Depending on your browser of choice, userstyles and Greasemonkey may have solutions for you. For example, this userscript makes Feedly look more like Google Reader:


  20. I’m focusing on Bloglines and Feedly, Steven.
    That script looks interesting.

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  23. I do believe all the concepts you have offered on your post.
    They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick for starters.
    May just you please prolong them a little from subsequent time?

    Thanks for the post.

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