Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Replacement for Google Reader

I'm sure you've heard by now that Google is killing its Reader application on July 1st of this year.

When I first heard about it, I wasn't all that concerned. Of course, I have my blogs that I read, and I would need to find a suitable replacement.

But it's just an RSS Feed... surely there are hundreds of them out there, right?

Not exactly.

The first alternative to come up (which also looked the most promising) was Feedly. Reviews said it has a slick interface and was an easy transition from Google Reader. Plus, there was the added bonus of automatically importing your Reader data when you join.

So I signed up.

The import process was seamless. I logged in with my Google account, and right away my blogs were all there, exactly as they were in Reader.

There's a bit of a catch here -- accessing Feedly this way is just like accessing Reader, since they're currently just running off of Google's services.. That means that if they haven't created a replacement program on the back-end by July 1st, it will stop working just the same as Reader does.
But we shouldn't worry -- over 500,000 people have joined Feedly since hearing about Reader's demise... chances are they'll have it working.

So all fears aside, I downloaded the Android app to start playing around with it.

From the beginning, I hated it. It's incredibly awkward to navigate. Instead of a simple list of all your blogs, ordered chronologically (with the ones you've read grayed out, and the new ones on top and nicely bolded), it's more of an artsy magazine layout, where you'll get a big image and preview of the first blog in your list.

Side note -- if you haven't checked out It's a Dog Lick Baby World, you really should. It's the funniest blog I've found to date. You're welcome.
Okay, that seems to be easy enough to change by going into the settings -- I'll just change my Default View over to "List"

Ah, that's better (although you still have to swype to change pages to see all the blogs in your list, instead of just scrolling through the list, which really annoys me for some reason).

Now what if I accidentally clicked on a blog but I didn't want to read it yet, and I didn't click the right thing (or do the correct gesture) to save it for later?

Well, it disappears.

Gone forever.

To go back to it, you have to go to that specific blog from the menu.

There is NO WAY to show blogs you've already read in the main list. Not by changing a setting. Not by clicking on "Today" or "Latest."

You can on the web version of the program, but not in the app, which is where I read the majority of my blogs.

So even though it looks pretty, that's too many strikes against Feedly for me. I just don't have the patience to try to get used to all the little shortcuts (swyping left does something, swyping right does something, up, down, etc). It's all just too much. Just give me a list.

So I did some more searching, and it looks like the majority of programs out there are running off Reader's API, and none of them look very promising that they'll continue come July.

I'm currently putting my hopes behind The Old Reader, which is an older version of Reader that they've been customizing. It's still in Beta, but you can manually import your Reader subscriptions (which takes a few steps, but it's easy), and rumor has it that it'll have the simple list interface that we all know and love.

It looks like it's gaining in popularity, too, so I can't be the only one not happy with Feedly. There are currently over 43,000 people ahead of me in line to import their Reader subscriptions.

The only problem I have with it right now is I can't find an app for it.

I think I see an opportunity here...

According to this article, it sounds like Digg recognizes this opportunity and is working on a solution. And hopefully they're listening to their users while designing it:
Google's announcement also prompted Digg, a social news site, to accelerate its plans to build a Google Reader alternative. Digg's readers are adamant about what they want in a reader replacement.

"Simple, simple, simple please," Oliver Wells, a Digg user wrote in a blog comment. "Just make it do what Reader did and no magazines, etc., etc. nonsense. Just feeds, folders, and that's it."
I couldn't agree more, Oliver.

So, has anybody out there found a suitable replacement for Google Reader yet?


  1. I have a dream that Google will decide to keep the Reader after all. I like living in denial.


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