Last week I posted about Google’s decision to kill off Reader : Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives. I am currently testing out Feedly – we will see how it goes….
Here are some alternatives that you might want to consider as you look to transition – details from Lifehacker:
We’re all seriously bummed about Google Reader shutting down, but it’s not the end of the world, and there are a number of great news reading apps and services out there stepping up to replace it with syncing features and easy import tools to keep you organized. This week we’re going to look at five of the best, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you which service you thought was the best replacement for Google Reader, taking into account that the service you nominated needed to be as close to Google Reader’s feature set (syncing, multi-platform, web-accessible) as possible. You weighed in with tons of nominations—far more great alternatives than we could possibly feature here. Still, some stood out above the others and picked up more nominations. Let’s take a look.
The Old Reader may be in beta, but it was built to be a suitable replacement for Google Reader. And not just Google Reader as we know it now, the old Google Reader, that still had plenty of tools for sharing and organization. You can log in via Google or Facebook, and import your feeds from Google Reader or any other service via OPML. If the interface looks familiar, it should: it looks a lot like Google Reader, complete with folders down the left side, your list of stories in the main pane (click any to read), and one-click subscription to new feeds. You get many of the same keyboard shortcuts, and even get the same ability to follow other Old Reader users and share interesting stories with them—the way you used to be able to with Google Reader. The Old Reader is fast, free, and super simple to use. There are no mobile apps yet, but the web site works well on mobile devices, and the developers behind it note they’re working on it. There are, however, Chrome and Safari extensions for it.
NewsBlur was one of the first services people suggested when the Google Reader announcement came down. NewsBlur has a really well built interface that’s also similar to Google Reader, but with some useful bells and whistles that make reading a bit more fun or easy on the eyes. For example, you can toggle the original view and display articles the way they show up on their respective sites, or read them the way they’re presented in their RSS feeds, or view them text-only to get rid of the images and the page fluff. You can share stories with friends, save them for future reading, star them, start your own “blurblog” of featured stories you want to share, and more. If you like to keep up with news on the go, NewsBlur’s iPhone, iPad, and Android apps will bring you the latest stories anywhere you are. Free accounts are capped at 64 blogs, 10 stories at a time, and public sharing options. Premium users ($24/yr) can subscribe to as many sites as they want, get all the latest stories at one time, get faster site refreshes, can share publicly or privately, and of course support the service. Sadly, if you don’t already have a free account, you can’t get one right now—due to high demand, they’ve temporarily stopped free users from signing up. Keep an eye out though, I’m sure they’ll drop this restriction once demand dies down.
Feedly was one of your top choices in the Call for Contenders thread, and many of you used Feedly long before Google announced it was shuttering Reader. Feedly has long been one of your favorite RSS news readers and news aggregators. We’ve mentioned them several times as the service has grown and updated. In addition to having a rich news suggestion algorithm that makes it easy to surface articles that you’ll find interesting, it’s a rich social tool that lets you share stories with your friends and post them to your favorite social networks. Saving stories for future reading is easy, and Feedly offers layout choices that let you read the news in the manner you choose—whether it’s straight headlines from top to bottom, full articles, neatly arranged tiles, or pretty images all laid out on a page. Best of all, Feedly has said that while right now they connect to Google Reader and sync with it, they’re building a new syncing engine so Feedly users can seamlessly continue using the service long after Google Reader turns off the lights. Stay tuned for that. Feedly is less webapp as it is browser extension and mobile app: there are add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Netvibes is actually a social aggregation and dashboarding service, but that doesn’t stop it from being a robust RSS news reader. Basic accounts at Netvibes are free (note that Premium and Pro accounts are available but expensive—you don’t need any of the services they offer just to read RSS feeds), and that’s all you really need to keep track of your feeds. You can take the suggested feeds they start you off with, or you can import your own via OPML or subscribe to specific blogs by pasting in their URL. Signing up is quick and easy, and once you’re set up, you can even use Netvibes as a bit of a dashboard/homepage replacement. Add widgets for weather, finance, and top news stories to your dashboard and you get a pretty useful homepage that also shows you the new stories from your favorite sites. Don’t look for mobile apps in this case though—Netvibes doesn’t have any. They do have a mobile site designed for smart and dumb phones alike (it auto-detects which one you’re using and sends you to the right place.) It’ll let you read the news, but it won’t let you edit anything.
Pulse is only partially a syncing RSS reader—it relies heavily on its own news filtering algorithms to help you find the stories that they think you’ll enjoy. You can use it as a way to just keep up on all the latest stories from the blogs you like to read, but when you nominated it as one of your favorite news aggregators, it was because it was great at lifting the interesting stories to the top. It departs from the traditional news reader UI for a more visual, tiled approach (similar to one of the views you can see in Feedly.) That said, Pulse does let you import your Google Reader feeds (via mobile-you can’t do it on the web), and since they operate their own service, they’ll handle the syncing and management for you—no external service required. Pulse offers a webapp and mobile apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets. You can easily save stories for later, share with friends, or just browse some of the more popular and trending stories, filter by category, and pick up where you left off on a new device without losing your place.
Honorable mentions this week go out toTinyTinyRSS, a self-hosted RSS reading app that allows you to grab your feeds on any system, as long as you have a web host and you’re comfortable installing and setting it up. The process actually isn’t that difficult, and full disclosure, I’m thinking about doing this myself. Since there’s a Tiny Tiny RSS Android client to go with it, it’s worth a look. Plus, it’s free and open source, and at the end of the day you own your feeds and your data, and it won’t shut down on you.
We should also make full mention of the fact that Google Reader isn’t going anywhere just yet! There are more petitions floating around to keep it alive than we can count, and (even if you believe in the efficacy of online petitions) it’s worth keeping in mind that the RSS reader market is going to change a lot between now and July 1st, when Google Reader finally sunsets. Most popular apps will roll their own syncing agent and try to stay alive. Stay tuned, and watch to see if your favorite is planning something big. Reeder, our favorite news reader for Mac andiPhone/iPad, has already said they’re working on something. Sadly, FeedDemon, our favorite for Windows, says the end of Google Reader is the end for them too.
Hmmmm – and I was just getting into Google Reader! Dang!
I will post some other alternatives – and we all have until July 1, 2013 to phase out of Google Reader and into something else. Details from Lifehacker:
Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives
Step One: Find a New RSS Reader
RSS is the mechanism by which Google Reader subscribes to web sites, and lets you know which articles you’ve read. Luckily, it’s far from the only RSS reader out there, so chances are you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one you like. In general, they fall into two categories. Here are your options.
Option One: Cloud-Based News Readers
If you read your RSS feeds in more than one place (that is, if you want to read them at home, at work, or on different devices), you’ll want to try a web-based RSS reader, similar to what Google Reader is now. NetVibes (pictured above) is one of the most popular web reader, offering a Google Reader-like interface as well as a snazzy iGoogle-like homepage.NewsBlur is also a great option, with an interface that’s very similar to Google Reader (and arguably a little more polished). You create an account with them, subscribe to your favorite sites, and can read them on any computer. They even have Android and iOS apps that’ll sync your feeds, too.
Feedly is popular, but definitely different than Google Reader. Its interface is less traditional and a bit more “newspaper-like,” but it’s very pretty. You need to download a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox to use it, but you’ll be able to sync your feeds between browsers and even to Feedly’s mobile apps. Update: Feedly has also said that they’ll have a “seamless” transition method in place when Reader goes down.
Option Two: Desktop-Based News Readers
Your other option is to go with a desktop app. Desktop readers often offer many more features than their web-based counterparts, but with one big downside: all desktop apps currently sync with Google Reader. That means, unless the developers get it syncing with a different service, you’ll only be able to read your feeds on the machine you used to subscribe to them. Of course, Google Reader doesn’t shut down until July, so there’s enough time that we could actually see that happen.For Windows, we really like FeedDemon (pictured above) for its high level of customizability. Check out our App Directory entry to read more about it and get some alternatives. Mac users should check out the beautiful, feature-packed Reeder and its alternatives. If you do most of your reading on your phone or tablet, you might try some of theAndroid- or iOS-based feed readers as well.
Step Two: Import Your Google Reader Feeds
Once you’ve found a new RSS reader, you should import your Google Reader feeds so you don’t have to re-subscribe to everything. Luckily, migrating your feeds from Google Reader is very simple. Here’s what you need to do:
- Head to Google Takeout’s Reader page and click the Create Archive button. It’ll start building a file with all your feeds, the people you follow, starred items, and more (though most of these won’t be importable to other sites).
- Once it’s finished building, click the Download button that appears to get your subscriptions.
- Open up the ZIP file you just downloaded and go through the folders inside. Inside the
Readerfolder, you should see a file called
subscriptions.xml. Extract that to your desktop.
- Open up your new feed reader of choice, head into its settings, and find the Import option. Select it, and choose the
subscriptions.xmlfile you just extracted. All of your feeds should appear in your new reader.
This won’t import your starred items or know which articles you’ve already read on Google Reader, but at least you’ll still have all your subscriptions. Alternatively, you can download a desktop reader that syncs with Reader—our favorite ones for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS all do—let it sync, and then turn off Google Reader syncing once it’s done. That way, you should at least be able to pick up where you left off.
You’ve still got until July to figure out which RSS reader you want to move to, so try a few different services out and see what you like. Hopefully, by the time July rolls around, some of the desktop apps might even have other options for syncing to the cloud. In the meantime, join us in the discussions below and share your favorite non-Google RSS reader.
FeedSquares, a Google Chrome extension, lets you view and read feeds from Google Reader in a stylish and entertaining interface. All you have to do is open Google Reader and click the FeedSquare button in the toolbar. With FeedSquare, you can view your feeds in two different modes, night and day. The night mode has a dark purple background, whereas the day mode comes with a white background. Additionally, you can select feeds and scroll through different items. Furthermore, personalize, reload, mark all feeds as read, and enable the total unread count on the extension’s button are also available.
To start off, visit Google Reader and click the FeedSqaure button in the toolbar. This will displays all your feeds with image thumbnails. At the bottom of the page, you will find a number of options, such as personalize, mark all as read, reload feeds, day/night, options and reader. The personalize option allows you to hide read feeds, hide read items and scroll item to mark read. Furthermore, you can change the interface by selecting the day or night mode. Also, reload feeds and click options to change the settings for FeedSqaure. Click a particular feed, and its items will be displayed in a row at the bottom of the page. Either use your mouse wheel or the orange bar to scroll through different items.
Click on individual items to read, share, keep unread and more. You can also Mark All Read and close specific feeds. Click the article’s title at the the top of the page to go to its respective website, or cross out to exit and access other articles or feeds.
The FeedSquares options allows you to enable the Trackpad mode, select Show total unread counts onextension icon, Use secure HTTPS connection and Disable Image previews on feed items. You may also select to Show older items first from the Items Settings category.
FeedSquares is an unobtrusive and easy-to-use extension that lets you read your feeds in a visually appealing interface. Visit the link below to install FeedSquares, try it out, and drop a comment.
I LOVE Google Reader (thanks kids!!). Here are some tips to make it even better from our friends at Lifehacker:
I subscribe to a lot of newsfeeds, which makes me feel like I’m on top of everything on the internet—except now I’m feeling overwhelmed with all the folders and hundreds of feeds and constant flood of posts in my newsreader. I still want access to all the news and information, but what can I do to better organize it so I stay sane?
Buried by RSS
You’re definitely not alone in feeling the RSS information overload. As wonderful as it is to be able to tap into all the information in the world, there are only so many hours in the day to spend consuming it all. Not to worry: With a little pruning, filtering and prioritizing, we can turn the deluge of data into a nice, manageable stream of content. Here’s how:
Prune Your RSS Subscriptions
The first thing to do is get rid of the feeds that you really don’t get any use out of: Feeds that are never updated, mostly duplicate content you already get elsewhere, or simply don’t read any more. These subscriptions are just taking up space in your reader and distracting you from the ones you do want to see.
Weed Out Inactive, Obscure, and Overactive Feeds
If you’re using Google Reader, go to the Trends report under “All Items” and click the “Inactive” tab to find and delete them.
Then click the “Most Obscure” tab, where you may find stray feeds with only a handful of subscribers. Sometimes this might be because you at some point were looking for updates on a very singular search term (for example, I had an Amazon price history feed in there for a TV model I was looking at) or just sites that aren’t that popular. Either way, take a look to clean out the ones you don’t need.
Part of the problem may also be feeds that send an overwhelming number of updates each day. You’ll find those subscriptions on the “Frequently Updated” tab. You don’t have to unsubscribe to those feeds, however, if you’re still interested in them. See below for how to filter those feeds so you just see more relevant posts.
Besides Google Reader, other web-based and desktop news readers offer similar statistics and tools. Our favorite Mac news reader application NetNewsWire and favorite Windows news reader FeedDemon, for example, will both show you the “dinosaurs” that haven’t been updated in a while and let you unsubscribe quickly.
Get Rid of Duplicate Content
Next take a look at your subscriptions for repetitive posts. You might have duplicate content if you follow many similar sites (especially news sites) that cover the same beat. Some sites which aggregate content for a specific topic can also overlap your other subscriptions. Consider keeping only those that are most comprehensive or updated most often.
Also be wary about using Google Alerts in your feeds. I used to have Google Alerts delivered via RSS for general topics like laptops and Android. But then I also had feeds for sites that cover news on those topics too, so I would end up with duplicates, triplicates, and so on of the same articles in my folders. What I learned was to not make Google Alerts for generic terms like those, but rather rely on my feeds, and if I need to find more content on the subject, just do a search on Google News.
Also, unless a site fits into several categories (like Lifehacker), it’s redundant to place it in a bunch of folders. No need to put Gizmodo in both “tech news” and “gadgets”—if you’ll be checking both folders, at least.
Keep Only the Essential Feeds
Finally, think about the categories of feeds that you really want to be watching and reading about. You might have a passing interest in a bunch of topics, but be ruthless in your assessment if you really are getting anything out of each category. As an example, I used to have a folder with feeds about “green living,” a topic I’m interested in but don’t need to read about daily, weekly, or even monthly.
Filter or Fine-Tune Your Feeds for the Posts You Want to Read
Once you’ve got your subscriptions all sorted out, if there are still too many posts to look at in a day, it’s time to filter them so you only see the topics you care about most. For example, you might be interested in new downloads, but not for Apple devices. A filter or subscribing to a site’s special sub-feeds can help you weed out those posts.
Subscribe to topic-specific feeds: Lifehacker, for example, offers several different feeds. You can subscribe to the whole enchilada with the full feed, just the top posts of the day, and even customize the feeds by tag or combination of tags (e.g., “top” “Mac OS X” “downloads”).
Creating your own filters: You have several options to create filters of your own on any site. Here are a few:
- Take a look at previously mentioned FeedRinse, which filters out posts for your individual subscriptions by keyword, tag, author, and even profanity.
- Another option, if you’re a Chrome and Google Reader user, is the Google Reader Filter by Feed/Folder userscript. This adds a filtering box above your feeds to weed out words for an individual subscription or an entire folder.
- Probably the most robust RSS feed hacking tool is much-discussed Yahoo Pipes, which combines many feeds into one sortable, filterable, and translatable feed (see how to use it here).
I’d recommend using FeedRinse if you do your RSS reading on a lot of different devices, the Google Reader Filter by Feed/Folder for quick filtering on-demand, and Yahoo Pipes if you really want to fine-tune your feeds.
Prioritize Your Feeds
Now that you’ve got the most valuable subscriptions showing the most relevant post topics, it’s time to organize them.
There are several strategies you can use. It doesn’t matter which you choose as long as it works for you. So here’s an overview:
Organize by priority: In a previous Google Reader decluttering article, we suggested a folder structure that ranked groups of feeds by priority: Favorite (to read daily) feeds at the top, then primary sources (go-to sites) and secondary sources (all other news feeds). I’ve adopted a similar strategy, with the feeds I read first thing in the morning at the top, but labeled like this “- Favorites” so that no matter what news reader I’m using, it stays at the top. For tech news, I have “- Tech News: Tier 1″ and “- Tech News: Tier 2″ folders. This just makes the ocean of tech news posts more navigatible. You could do the same for any category you follow heavily.
Organize by time: You might also group feeds by when you should be reading them. You could have daily (and perhaps am and pm subgroups), weekly, and monthly groups that correlate to how you catch up on sites. Or a weekday and weekend/nights grouping.
Organize by topic: Probably the most popular want to organize your feeds is by topic (especially if you have a variety of interests): tech, home, fun, etc. As mentioned above, though, be careful about having too many folders that overlap. Some news readers let you have subfolders, which is handy. This Google Reader: Nested Folders userscript can add the subfolders capability currently lacking in Google Reader.
Of course, you can use a combination of these strategies.
For each subscription, you can prioritize the posts as well. Previously mentioned PostRank is a Safari and Chrome extension that scores posts according to how popular it is. The drop-down filter of good, great, and best posts may help clear the RSS clutter.
More Efficiently Read Your Feeds
Finally, with everything in place, start using your news reader more effectively by learning its keyboard shortcuts and using add-ons if available (see this guide for Google Reader keyboard shortcuts and add-ons).
Remember, too, that RSS is more like a daily newspaper than it is email: Don’t feel like you have to read every single item of every feed you subscribe to. There will always be new news to read.
That said, enjoy your streamlined news reading experience!
I am newly hooked on Google Reader (thanks Hill & Whit for introducing me to it – where has it been all these years?!?). It is so nice to go to one tab on my browser and have SO many articles available for me to read – articles that are of interest to ME (since I added them to the Reader, they DO interest ME).
What do you use?
There are plenty of apps and services that just let you add your favorite blogs and keep up with their feeds, but what about apps that help you discover new and interesting news, things you wouldn’t have found on your own? This week we’re going to look at five apps that deliver a curated news experience, even if they include your own feeds.
Earlier in the week we asked you which applications or services you used when you wanted to read the news of the day, which site or services you trusted to deliver new and interesting news to you beyond your favorite RSS feeds. You responded, and now we’re back to highlight the top five, based on your recommendations.
The beauty of Feedly is that it’s available for iOS and Android, as well as most major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Add it to your browser or mobile device, and you have a gateway to the latest breaking news, some of the best blogs on the Web, and you can still add your own favorites, customize your news reading experience, and add the sites that you read most often. You get an image and multimedia-rich reading experience in a minimalist interface that lets you focus on reading the news. When you’re ready, you can share interesting topics with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Plus, it’s completely free.
Google News and Google Reader are still probably the most popular news aggregation services on the Web, when you consider them combined. Google Reader is a robust feed reader, and allows you to add as many feeds as you like, organize them, and read everything, selected topics or feeds, or just everything you missed since your last update. It’s look could use an overhaul, but it works and it’s free. Google News is similar: it just got a facelift, but it’s a news service that aggregates thousands of blogs, newspapers, news organizations, and online magazines around the web and delivers trending and interesting content to you almost instantaneously. More than a few people I know have it set as their browser’s home page.
Fark has long survived as one of the web’s most popular sites, and one of the web’s most trusted sources for a wide variety of important, interesting, and thoughtful topics…as well as offbeat and hilarious news that you won’t find listed anywhere else on the web. Best of all, there are real people behind the service making sure that the best stories float to the top and the uninteresting ones disappear, still a different approach from the latest generation of social and crowd-curated news sites. If you’re looking for an entertaining take on the news of the day, Fark and its community are the place to go.
Available for iOS (both iPhone and iPad) and Android, Pulse does the wrangling for you and sources the best news of the day that the service thinks you’ll be interested to read. It then pushes that information through to you in an attractive, tiled interface that lets you quickly tap a story to read it or watch a video. You can still add your favorite topics and web sites, and you still have some control over what sources you read and what topics you read about, but if you want a single-glance at the day’s top stories, Pulse does a great job of delivering it to you on the go.
News360 is available as a webapp and for almost every mobile platform, including iOS (iPhone and iPad,) Android, Windows Phone 7, and the BlackBerry Playbook. The app is one of the first news applications that hooks into your social networks like Facebook and Twitter to learn more about you and the topics that interest you. It then uses that information to customize the news it delivers to you so you’re never presented with a story that’s uninteresting. The interface on all platforms is attractive, and rich with images and video. News360 does an incredible job of anticipating what you’d like to read and then giving it to you.
I love Flipboard – this from Google could be a great alternative/competitor!
Earlier today, well-known digerati dude Robert Scoble posted on his social feed on Google+ that the search giant was working on a social and news reader.
“I heard from someone working with Google that Google is working on a Flipboard competitor for both Android and iPad,” posted Scoble. “My source says that the versions he’s seen so far are mind-blowing good.”
If blowing the minds of hot Silicon Valley start-up Flipboard and Facebook is the goal, then Scooby-Don’t’s rumor is pretty spot-on.
According to numerous sources close to the situation, Google is indeed working on rolling out the new product, which is currently called Propeller.
Sources said Propeller is apparently one of a number of new socially focused announcements Google is prepping, including new apps. But the timing for their launch is unclear.
Facebook is also making social versions of publications available within its site. So, instead of just seeing a sidebar on a news site of what stories your friends liked, you’ll get a personalized and reformatted version of the latest news when you visit that publication’s page within Facebook.
All these apps are part of the drastically changing habits of media consumers, helping them better navigate numerous social and media feeds — such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as news sites and more — using handsome interfaces and touch technologies.
Flipboard is the most prominent and elegant of these offerings, available only on the Apple iPad. The company is working on an iPhone version, too.
Flipboard’s traction among elite users, along with its high-level design ethos and strong reviews, is why Google tried to buy the well-funded company last year, sources said.
But Flipboard — which is backed by some of tech’s biggest venture players, who have invested more than $60 million at a $200 million valuation — declined the kind offer.
At the time, sources said, Google told Flipboard execs that if it did not buy the start-up, it planned to do a version of its own.
Hence, after I heard about the product earlier this year, I dubbed it the Flipinator.
Propeller is probably a better name, I will admit.
It’s not clear what Google’s Propeller will include in the product, such as Facebook integration, since the pair of Silicon Valley behemoths have not been able to partner over data exchange.
Which is an understatement, I know.
But sources said it would be available on both Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android tablets.
In any case, stay tuned and thanks to Scoobs for the tip!
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