When I read the first tweet about Google eliminating their Reader, I thought the person sharing the news was kidding. How could Google possibly kill off something that was such an integral part of my daily routine?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a joke. Google has officially announced they will be eliminating this product on July 1.
I guess it was inevitable that once they started scaling back the features, then usage would drop. This in turn we give them the justification to eliminate a program that was no longer widely used. But those of us who use it feel as if we have been cast adrift. Daniel Lewis has started a petition to get Google to reconsider. Although he makes a compelling argument, and already more than 100,000 people who have signed it (including me), I don’t think there is any chance we will change Google’s mind.
So in a world without Google Reader what tool will jump in to fill the void? There are several possible alternatives.
What tops my list?
Feedly – This tool works seamlessly across desktop, iPhone, iPad and Android products. It also looks equally good on Firefox and Chrome. Importing my feeds from Google was a breeze; all my feeds and folders came across in a minute. But the best part of Feedly is the display. Clearly while Google was letting their product languish, Feedly was working on their interface. The magazine-style format for all devices allows you to see a series of posts at a glance with a brief preview of each. There is also a simple and expanded list view option. It’s easy to navigate, save posts for later and share across social platforms. Feedly also features a broad category list which will suggest sites to add to your reader based on your interests.
Other free magazine style readers include:
Tapu – In addition to your RSS, Tapu lets you bring in your Facebook and Twitter feeds, consolidating much of your web browsing to one reader. If you are not using a tool like HootSuite which consolidates your social feeds, this is a nice alternative. This program also brings in your existing feed at the push of a button. I thought Tapu’s suggestion list was more limited then Feedly’s, but it’s compatible with Blackberry and Nook, in addition to Droid and Apple products which makes it a great fit for a niche audience. I thought the display was a little too cluttered for my taste.
Pulse News - The display is pretty, with the ability to switch from large to small icons, but when it came to actually reading the articles, it is not very practical. There is no preview of the text content, the black background under the white titles makes everything harder to read and the articles load slowly. It does interface nicely with Facebook, if you want to share the best of what you are reading to your social channels.
There are other tools, like Flipboard and Google Current, which only work on mobile devices. While they may be interesting for some users, I was looking for something that would work on all platforms so I could seamlessly pick up wherever I leave off regardless of the device I am using to connect to the web. For me, the desktop version is best when I am doing research for for Roundpeg or client projects, so mobile only options were impractical for me.
I was heartbroken when I heard the news about Google Reader, but I think perhaps Google has done me a favor. If they had continued to maintain their reader without updates, I would have limped along with them, never knowing something better was out there.