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Google Reader Is Dead; Long Live Feedly?

google reader crossed out

Last October there were many rumors than Google was going to pull the plug on its RSS delivery service, Feedburner.  I moved our email subscription to maillchimp and deleted any references to Feedburner at that time. Earlier this week, Google confirmed that Feedburner was getting the ax but also announced that it would be shuttering Google Reader effective July 1, 2o13.

For many, Google Reader was a way to compile RSS feeds of various blogs and sites in one location.  People are scrambling to find a replacement.  I’ll admit that I stopped reading Google Reader a few years ago in favor of gathering important links from Twitter and reading feeds via an app on my iOS called Flipboard.  But hundreds of thousands of people still use Google Reader.  Even more use applications, both web and computer and mobile, that rely on the Google Reader API (Application Programming Interface). Those will be dead as well.

By some metrics, Google Reader has millions of users but Google can’t seem to monetize the service sufficiently to support keeping the service.  Over 100,000 signature and climbing to keep Google Reader alive but thus far Google has been non responsive.  The danger of Google shutting down its various free services is that people will begin to doubt the longevity of its other products. Sure, search or Youtube isn’t going away but how about Google Docs or another Google service you enjoy?

The good thing is that where there is a void, an entrepreneur will step in to fulfill that void.  Interestingly Dropbox, a major competitor of Google’s for cloud storage recently bought the new and innovative email product Mailbox.   There are quite a few developers who are utilizing Dropbox’s API to create applications that interface with Dropbox’s cloud storage.

So what’s your alternative?  Based on a number of articles, here are what seems to be the best alternatives to Google Reader:

Newsblur

NewsBlur (Web * iOS * Android) .  There are free and paid versions.  The paid version runs $24 per year.  The web version includes a small sidebar that can open to display updated feeds from your favorite sites.  It allows for real time updating, sharing with your friends, and a learning feature where the program will try to hide the stories you don’t want and highlight the stories you do.

Feedly

Feedly (Firefox * iOS * Android).  Free.  This is one of the favorite replacements for Google Reader.  The Firefox addition allows you to use keyboard shortcuts like the original Google Reader. Another great feature of Feedly is that it syncs across all platforms from the web to your  mobile device.

NetVibes

Net vibes. This is a widget based service and despite the intimidating front page, you can just get a free account to read the news. Basically you sign up for a number of widgets that contain the source information that you want to read/follow.  Lifehacker talks more about it here. Netvibes is more a customizable home page than a mere RSS feed reader.  It has a small learning curve but is also more powerful.

Old Reader

The Old Reader. This is a stripped down but fully functional RSS feed reader.  It’s first page says “Welcome to The Old Reader, the ultimate social RSS reader. It’s just like the old google reader, only better. We’re in beta right now, but we’re constantly working on improvements and new features.” Like feedly, you can use keyboard shortcuts and you can also share, organize, and save your favorite articles.

 

Once you’ve decided on a replacement news reader, you’ll need to make the migration.  For that, you’ll need your OPML file.  Go to Google Takeout and download your OPML file.  Most of the above feed readers will permit you to upload an OPML and thus your favorite feeds will be saved.

As for Mailchimp, I’ve really enjoyed using it but there is also a learning curve for that.  What’s the mailing list for anyway?  If you don’t want to come to visit Dear Author on a daily basis, you can get a daily email setting out the posts for the day. You’ll still have to visit to read the posts, but it gives you an idea of what is going on.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. Lia
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 04:22:53

    Bugger! Is Google seriously pulling the plug on Reader? How could I have missed that?

    Will check out some of those alternatives you mentioned in your post, thanks!

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  2. Lia
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 04:24:41

    PS. I actually followed some Twitter hashtags and accounts via my Google Reader as well. So handy!

    ReplyReply

  3. alwdr
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 06:16:52

    I have been using NewsRack for a while, and I have to say I really love it. It’s how I get my daily DA fix!

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  4. Mireya
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 06:52:59

    I switched to Netvibes when Google got rid of iGoogle. It turned out to be a better option than I imagined as I just added to it the feeds to all the blogs I follow. They recently changed a few things and it’s even better. For anyone that’s looking for a new home page and is familiar with a “tabs” system, is a good choice. Initially it’s not that easy to set up, but once you get the hang of it, it works really well. I use the free version, and so far, so good.

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  5. jch
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 07:16:38

    Just one word of caution about Feedly…when I started to add it to Chrome the other day, a popup informed me that doing so would give them access to my data on ALL web sites. Their response to those who expressed concerns about this was that “it can be turned off in preferences,” but why would they need universal access to begin with? I tend to be overly cautious about that kind of stuff, but people do seem happy with Feedly, and maybe they’ve changed things since. For me, “permission to access data on all web sites” was a bit much.

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  6. Elaine
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 07:55:08

    Another caveat about Feedly: right now they are a front end to Google Reader. They promise to have a backend working by the time Reader puts up its shutters. Given the volume of data they will be dealing with, that is a rather large software engineeering effort.

    I’ve been a long-term Google user, but have decided to make sure that I don’t increase my use of their products any further.

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  7. theo
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 09:21:53

    Well, I signed up for Newsblur since I couldn’t import all of my feeds, (yes, I have a lot but some only post once a month or so and I selectively read them) but I can’t quite get used to the interface. They don’t have a notification icon for any browser that I can find, so that’s not a big plus either.

    I’m using Feedly for now but again, I have those same concerns about the data and my privacy. Also, though they have a toolbar icon for Firefox, it doesn’t give you the new feed count, it’s only a shortcut.

    The Old Reader won’t load all of my feeds, it only shows two and though I realize they’re completely overwhelmed at the moment, it’s been three days and I’d hoped they would have made a bit of an improvement by now. Also, they have an icon for Chrome and Safari but not Firefox and when I asked about something in the future, they said feel free to make one. Like that’s going to happen.

    I also tried Bamboo which has a nice interface, a toolbar icon that shows unread counts, but it really slowed Firefox down.

    And I just can’t get used to NetVibes.

    The whole thing just sucks. And I also wonder what’s going to happen to Drive and a couple other of their ‘free’ things. They’re discontinuing Cloud Connect too in favor of Drive which for me, is a huge pain since Cloud Connect integrated with Word and was much simpler to deal with. I’m still trying to figure out if Drive syncs with every change I make in a doc. So far, I can’t get a definitive answer.

    I guess maybe I just don’t like change.

    ReplyReply

  8. JayhJay
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 10:57:45

    Jane, what are you doing about the DA feed itself? If feedburner goes away as planned, won’t you need another way for folks to sign up to get the feed?

    This is so exhausting. Need to find a new way to read my own feeds instead of Google Reader, plus another way to distribute my own blog feed. Email subscriptions are easy but I haven’t been able to find an alternative to feedburner for all those folks who are subscribed that way.

    ReplyReply

  9. Jane
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 11:09:15

    @JayhJay: The DA feed is accessible by any other feed reader. http://dearauthor.com/feed

    I can’t count the number of subscribers like you could easily with feedburner but I’m okay with that.

    ReplyReply

  10. JayhJay
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 11:30:07

    @Jane: Got it. Yeah, I don’t pay much attention to the actual number of subscribers either. It is much more important to have an easy way for folks to get the feed.

    So it is probably a good idea to get my folks who are subscribing via RSS using my feedburner feed to switch over to using my plain blog feed so that when feedburner goes, they don’t lose the feed. (In addition to switching their readers)

    It also occurs to me that folks like me who use Google Reader and want to move to another aggregator need to be sure we are using plain feeds as well to subscribe. Otherwise when feedburner goes, those feeds won’t work even if we have a new reader. Or am I not understanding it right?

    Thanks!

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  11. Lexie C.
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 11:38:39

    Despite the problems I sometimes have with GoogleReader (mostly on outdated IE versions since my job doesn’t update past 7), its really the only way I have of tracking my blogs. Feedly may be a replacement, but if they’re not REALLY up and running yet I don’t want to get used to a new interface just to have it fail on me and Old Reader sounds good in theory, but like Theo I’m having trouble migrating my blogs (and I cut a lot out–if nothing else this move is making me rethink all the blogs I follow and cutting back on the ones I don’t really read).

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  12. Sunita
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 11:47:18

    I’ve used Netvibes before and I’m using it again now while I’m trying out a number of different options. I hear Bloglines is in operation, which is what I used before I used GReader.

    Netvibes has a very stripped down interface if you prefer that. You can bypass the iGoogle-like homepage completely if you toggle the widget/reader button (top left) to reader. Then it looks very similar to GReader, although if you want to make groups I found it easiest to go into widget view and create new tabs. Then just move the blogs into the right tabs (groups) when you’re in reader view.

    Right now Netvibes can be slow to update, but that may be because so many new users are coming on board. I’m glad we have until July to figure out alternatives.

    I’m also trying Feedly for Android. It’s fast, but I hate the interface.

    ReplyReply

  13. Google Reader (and Currently Reading) | Me and My Books
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 12:59:28

    [...] are a number of Google Reader alternatives being proposed - I’m trying out Feedly myself. I was tempted by The Old Reader, but they appear swamped by [...]

  14. janel
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 13:58:09

    I used Google Reader on my notebook and accessed it with Reeder on my iPhone and iPad. I’m really angry over Google’s dumping Reader – they didn’t even give us a chance to pay for it. I’m rethinking my use of any of their products including Gmail.

    So far, I’ve tried NewsBlur, Feedly, The Old Reader and FeedHQ. None of them is a good substitute for Google Reader’s performance and simple interface. On to NetVibes next. I just hope one of them (or digg) is able to scale up quickly enough and get a good enough source to take the load and that they will give us the features we want.

    ReplyReply

  15. Lauren
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 14:20:49

    Trying out Feedly now. Thumbs down so far. I will give some of these others a try. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyReply

  16. janel
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 14:36:00

    OK, with it toggled to Reader, NetVibes is looking promising if I could just figure out how to get rid of the feeds that they inserted and how to get it to just show the feeds that have new posts from the ones I imported.

    ReplyReply

  17. LVLMLeah
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 15:04:33

    I use Google reader mainly to read the blog posts of blogs I follow. I don’t really do anything else with it so I wanted something simple and user friendly like Google Reader.

    I tried Bloglovin first because it looked easy to get set up. However, it only showed truncated blog posts and all my comments feeds didn’t get picked up. So that sucked.

    Then I tried Netvibes. I was put off at first by all the noise and the magazine type layout. I don’t want my reader to look like a tablet face or such. I just want a list of my feeds.

    I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the feeds they dumped in there and I also couldn’t figure out how to get my feeds organized. After I uploaded the file it was all one jumbled mess of feeds and comments. However, it does show full feeds, not truncated, and it picked up all my feeds.

    But Sunita– above commenter, nudged me in the right direction and now I love it. It’s actually easy to manage once you get how to set it up the way you want.

    She’s right in that it’s slow on the uptake; posts were in my Google reader long before NetVibes. However, maybe that’s because of the sudden influx of users. And I don’t mind because I only log in 1x per day to catch up.

    It’s working really well for me so far.

    ReplyReply

  18. Sunita
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 15:09:25

    @janel: In Reader format, click on the feed you want to remove. Next to the name, at the top, you’ll see (edit). Click on that and you’ll have the option to remove the feed. You have to remove each feed separately, but it didn’t take that long for me.

    If you want to remove a tab, I found it easiest to do that in Widget View. Click on the arrow next to the name (in the tab) to get the dropdown menu, then delete the tab.

    ETA: In the top right corner (in Reader View, under your name), there is a list icon. If you click that, the bottom option is “show unread feeds.” Click on that. I don’t know if it works for every feed at once or if you have to do them separately, though.

    ReplyReply

  19. janel
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 15:33:36

    Thanks, Sunita! That helped a lot, and I was able to get rid of the tabs and feeds that NetVibes had as a default.

    I’ve got that list option set to “show only unread items”, but the empty feeds themselves are showing in the list. I had Google Reader set to only show feeds with new items in my menu list, but I don’t think NetVibes will do that. Off to find the suggestion box! :)

    Thanks again for the help! So far, with The Old Reader being so slow to update and Feedly and NewsBlur being too fiddly, NetVibes is leading the pack for my use.

    I wish I thought all the outrage and teeth gnashing would cause Google to reconsider, but I think that ship has sailed.

    ReplyReply

  20. Moriah Jovan
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 19:08:36

    I had just found Feeddler Pro on iPad about a week before Google made the announcement and I totally fell in love with the interface. It was exactly what I needed, one of which was that it would “send to” a variety of things I use (like Evernote, to which I am becoming a convert) and not just Twitter and Facebook and email.

    I immediately bailed from Google Reader after the announcement and went on the hunt and liked Netvibes the best.

    Until I didn’t.

    It doesn’t work for me the way Feeddler Pro does and I don’t even like the stripped-down interface as it’s a bit unintuitive and still has too much noise.

    Sooooo Feeddler says they’re working on it, so I’m going to stick it out until July 1 and cross my fingers and toes they get it worked out.

    ReplyReply

  21. Ann Somerville
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 01:41:28

    I switched to a paid Newsblur account because it has an iOS app to synch with it. The first couple of days were hellish as the owners raced to catch up with the sudden rush of accounts. But it’s improving day on day and I’m now used to it. The web interface on iPad is a little wonky, but the app is fine, and so is the desktop browser.

    Still pissed off at Google though. Mightily. I’d have gladly paid to have the reader kept just as it was.

    ReplyReply

  22. Mikaela
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 04:19:25

    If you use Firefox, I recommend that you check out Brief, a rss reader plugin. It is easy to import the blogs from Google reader, and it is easy to add new ones. Plus, there is no need to create another account.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/sv-se/firefox/addon/brief/

    ReplyReply

  23. Friday Reads: Google Reader’s Death and Annotated Prose Poems | Critical Margins
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 09:31:41

    [...] article from the site Dear Author explains why Google may have killed Reader (“Google Reader is Dead. Long Live Feedly?”). The author explains that Google could never monetize RSS. But by shutting it down, they alienate [...]

  24. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity is buried by the neverending work project of neverendingness
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 11:53:39

    [...] to be free of GR before July 1!) Lifehacker readers voted Feedly as their favorite GR replacement. Dear Author covered a few GR replacement options. Here’s a Firefox/Chrome userscript that will let you save your GR saved items elsewhere. [...]

  25. MaryK
    Jun 28, 2013 @ 22:58:32

    I’ve been using netvibes for about a month and it’s ok though I sometimes suspect it of not catching all posts. Some of the comments here were a great help in getting set up, so thanks.

    Now I have a problem though. Netvibes mobile has stopped working for me. I can log in to my account but it says I have no feeds. And it’s what? 2 days til google reader goes down? Ugg!

    ReplyReply

  26. Shel
    Jun 30, 2013 @ 16:49:31

    @Mikaela: Thanks! Brief is working for me pretty well.

    I also like the look of Inoreader so far.

    ReplyReply

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