Posted: Tue 28th May 2013
Google Reader, the tool that provides users with regular feeds of fresh content from the favourite websites, is due to be 'retired' on 1st July. If you use it to keep up to date with your news and interests, what are your alternatives? Enterprise Nation's tech agony aunt, Francesca Geens, takes a look at five alternatives.
Is RSS dead without Google Reader?Â asks Francesca (left). Well, there's no need to overreact like the chap inÂ this clip, but it is time to look for an alternative and get it set up before Google shuts down Reader on 1stÂ July. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, keep reading anyway because RSS feeds are super useful for the following reasons:
you can stay on top of your reading by having all the news you are interested in come to you in one place
you can keep an eye on blogs you are interested in without having to visit lots of websites to see if there is a new post
you can get a constant stream of great stories to share in your social media updates
you can access your reading across multiple devices so you always have something to read when you have some free time.
So whether you are a newbie or looking to move away from Google Reader, what should you do next? The first thing is to export your current feeds through Google Takeout, to broaden your options. Then look for an alternative feed reader. Here are five I've been checking out.
Top of the list has got to be Feedly - this one seems to be way ahead in terms of the main alternative for Google Reader users. It's easy to set up - just go to Feedly.com and you'll be prompted to log in with your Google account, then all your RSS feeds will be moved over automatically. It has smartphone apps and great social media integration, soÂ BufferÂ users like me have everything ready to go. Another nice feature is that it shows you how many shares/likes any one post has had so you can immediately focus on the popular ones.
The downside of this application is that it's app and plugin based. It works well with Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari, but won't work with Internet Explorer. So if you're the type of person that works with shared computers in an internet cafÃ© then you've got a problem.
The Old Reader is another one to check out. I like it because of the simple interface but the downside is that there are no mobile apps yet, though the website works well on my Nexus tablet (although I can't swipe through my feeds as quickly as I would like). Be aware, though, that you'll have to export your feeds from Google Reader via Google Takeout and then import them. This didn't take more than a few minutes but might put some people off compared to setting up Feedly.
Newsblur gets great reviews but halfway through the sign-up process I got to a page asking to pay for Premium Access as there are currently 1028 people 'patiently' waiting ahead of me for their free account. Thanks, but I don't think so guys; I'd rather have a demo than hand over cash before I know what I'm getting. It took about a day for my free account to be set up and to be honest,I'm not really liking the interface. It feels too busy. I'm glad I didn't decide to pay upfront.
Feedbin also gets good reviews and I like the clean interface, but there is no free option. It's only $2 a month, but still - there doesn't seem to be enough value added to pay for this service at the moment.
Another option is the gorgeous looking Flipboard; but I can't process my feeds quickly enough. What I could have done with scrolling now has to be done with several (dozen) swipes of the finger; so it's not really for me.
Which feed reader for me?
It looks like Feedly will be my replacement for Google Reader for me. I'll use it and The Old Reader to see which I prefer and if The Old Reader comes up with some apps, it could be a real contender, too. But I'll probably cling onto Google Reader to the bitter end, to be honest - perhaps in the hope that another option will come to the fore. I'd love to know what you think and what you decide to do to replace Google Reader. Please feel free to comment below! Francesca Geens is founder of Digital Dragonfly and provides IT consultancy and support to independent professionals.
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