SiliconFilter

Don’t Like the New Google Reader? Here Are Three Alternatives

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Once upon a time, Google Reader was just one of many RSS readers out there. Today, though, it can often feel as if Google Reader really is the only game in town when it comes to subscribing and reading news feeds. Today, Google launched the largest update to Google Reader in a long time. While it brings some new features (especially integration with Google+), it also does away with a number of useful tools that many users came to rely on in the past. Reader’s social features, for example, are now almost completely gone. You also can’t bundle a set of feeds and share them with friends anymore, just like you can’t share comments about stories with your friends in Google Reader.

Given all of these changes – and a new design that isn’t everybody’s cup of tea – here are three alternatives that are worth checking out. Most of them don’t recreate the social features that Google Reader used to have, though, but given that those aren’t coming back as Google is moving to Google+, now may just be the best time to switch to a new feed reader anyway.

Feedly

Given that you probably already manage all of your feeds in Google Reader, Feedly is a nice way to transition to a different style of feed reader. Feedly syncs with your Google Reader account, but uses a more magazine-style interface. The minimalist interface thankfully doesn’t put as much emphasis on whitespace as the new Google Reader, either. The service offers support for a plethora of social media services, but doesn’t include any built-in substitute for Google Reader’s social features.

Just in time for the launch of the new Google Reader, Feedly also just launched version 7 of its web service (there are also various mobile and tablet apps).

Go Desktop: FeedDemon (Win) and NetNewsWire(Mac)

Before Bloglines, Google Reader and numerous other web-based RSS readers, most of us relied on desktop apps to regularly ping and update our feeds. The idea of using a desktop app may sound odd in this day and age where everything is on the web, but there is still something to be said for a good desktop app that neatly integrates with the rest of your system.

netnewswire_text_logoQuite a few of the older readers are now unmaintained, as their developers have moved on, but for Mac users, NetNewsWire is still more than worth a look (though I can’t really recommend NetNewsWire 4 Lite, which is the only version that is in the Mac App Store) and for Windows users, FeedDemon is still the app to beat. Both of them are still under active development, sync with Google Reader and offer at least some support for social sharing features (NetNewsWire, for example, also support Instapaper).

Personally, I use a combination of Feedly and NetNewsWire as my main setup for reading feeds.

Host Your Own: Fever

fever_smallIf you want total control over your feed reader without using the desktop because you want the convenience of being able to access your feeds wherever you are, take a look at Fever. It’s one of the prettiest and most fully-featured self-hosted RSS readers out there today – but you do have to pay $30 for a license.

What makes Fever stand out is its speed (it can ping a lot of feeds and can do so pretty fast) and its built-in memetracking feature which ranks stories based on how often they are being talked about by other sources in your feeds. You can even put feeds you don’t normally read into a separate folder that you don’t read but that influences the Fever algorithm.



3:16 am


Feedly for iPad Shows RSS Isn’t Dead Yet

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Every month or so, somebody will proclaim the death of RSS and feed readers at the hands of Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, there can be little doubt that interest in feed readers like Google Reader, NetNewsWire and FeedDemon has declined rapidly over the last few years as users switched to social networks and smart aggregators to consume news (and as consumers grew frustrated with the usability issues surrounding feeds).

Feedly, however, is one service that grew out of this era and continues to thrive by making its Google Reader-based magazine-like feed reader easy to use for newbies and powerful enough for power users. The company just launched its iPad (iTunes link) and Android tablet apps, as well as an update to its iPhone app.

Just a few years ago, before Twitter and Facebook became the phenomena they are today, Google Reader and shared feeds and posts there were on top of everybody’s minds when it came to social recommendations. Without large social networks like Twitter and Facebook, we didn’t really have any other meaningful metric to gauge social interest in a story.

Feedly, which first launched as a browser plugin back in 2008, still uses Google Reader shares as a metric for gauging interest in a story and creating your personalized homepage. More importantly, though, the new version of Feedly Mobile now makes it easy to quickly search for sources you would like to subscribe to, is noticeably faster than the previous iPhone version and features a beautiful, minimalist layout. While reading articles, you can like them on Google Reader, share them on other social networks or via email or save them for later (note: the iOS and Android versions are virtually identical, but I only tested the iPad version).

Can Feedly Remain Relevant in a World of Social Recommendations?

Whether you’re already heavily invested in Google Reader or not, Feedly is definitely worth a look. In the long run, though, I’m worried if Feedly will be able to compete with services based on social recommendations from Twitter and Facebook like Flipboard and those based on smart algorithms like my6sense (also RSS-based) and Zite. For most RSS feeds today, Google Reader shares are far and in between, so to remain relevant, Feedly will have to pull in other signals for evaluating the importance of a story, too.



9:39 am