I’m very sad. I’m sad because the site I use more than any other site, Google Reader, is going away at midnight on Monday morning, never to be heard from again. Google Reader is the site I use most often for work and the site I use most often for fun to keep up with the movie, sports and video game news I’m interested in.
A Missed Opportunity
When Google announced that it was killing off Reader back on March 13, it said that “over the years usage has declined.” But if you looked at the internet in the wake of Google’s announcement, you’d probably be more than a little confused.
The internet mourned. “Usage [had declined]” so much that dozens of other sites aimed to stake their claim on the 50 million internet users (Digg’s estimate) who rely on RSS feeds. Giga OM recently wondered, “Why does everyone except Google want to build a reader?”
One of the main reasons that Google was shutting down Reader was that it couldn’t find a way to monetize the service. What’s baffling about that, though, is that this site had a list of every site (and, from that list, a list of topics, like movies, sports and video games) I was interested in. How hard would it be for an engineer to say, “Okay, this user subscribes to the AV Club, Slashfilm and Polygon. Let’s give him some ads about video games coming out this Tuesday movies hitting theaters this Friday.”??? I understand that a service needs to be profitable. But when I’m giving you a list of what I like, an inability to create targeted marketing is CRAZY.
We all tried to move on and find a replacement for Reader. I didn’t find any that I liked initially, and have stuck with Google Reader until this week. But, come Monday morning, the RSS-lovers among us (myself included) are going to need to find a new source for news aggregation. There are plenty out there, so which ones are worth your time?
I don’t ask much out of an RSS reader. My criteria are simple:
- Access to as many feeds as I want. (Realistically, about 50 is good.)
- A place to view all my feeds in one place, from oldest to newest by publication date.
- A way to star or save stories that I want to read (or post) later.
- I want a web app that works in all browsers, in all operating systems. I don’t want a browser-specific plugin, or an iOS app like Flipboard (which I’ve only heard good things about, but doesn’t work how I want to use it) or whatever Facebook is cooking up.
I was originally going to use this column as a way to compare and contrast the RSS readers on the market, both to help me pick one for myself and give you all some guidance. But, to be honest, I haven’t found one I truly love, nor have I found one I can whole-heartedly endorse. If you are looking for some pros and cons of different readers, Boy Genius Report, TechCrunch and many other sites have posted their picks.
I first thought I’d like NewsBlur the best. It seemed similar to Google Reader (though, to be fair, most RSS readers will look similar) and I liked the color differentiation between feeds. I even paid $24 to get a premium account. But it was sluggish and glitch and I ran into a bunch of problems. The site’s developer assured me it was just the overwhelming crush of new users, but even this week I find it has problems.
But for now, I’m going with Feedly. It isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough to Google Reader that it’ll do the trick. There’s no search feature yet – which is a little mind-boggling – but they’re working on it. As such, I can’t fully endorse it, but it’s close enough to work for me.
Did you / do you use Google Reader? Which RSS reader are you switching to? Let me know in the comments, and let us help each other through this tough time.