With Google Reader Finishing Up, Where Do We Go From Here?
With the news of Google shutting down its Reader service on July 1st coming and going, its core audience has been up in arms about it. While the news mightn’t affect the rest of the world, for those who use it on a regular basis, it’s rather disheartening to see it finally end since its an incredibly handy tool.
On the official Google Reader blog, software engineer Alan Green gave two reasons for the decision: Usage of the service has declined, and as a company, it’s poring its energy into fewer products to deliver a better overall experience.
To be honest, this news has been a long time coming. Google had stripped features away from the service, such as social back in 2011 in a bid to make Google+ more relevant. While it is a niche service (in relative terms), it had developed a passionate fanbase that swore by it, and a number of petitions have emerged asking Google to reverse its decision.
There are two reasons behind the decline, the first is the prioritisation of Google+. By removing the social features from Reader back in 2011, it practically killed the social element and removed the reason for users to visit it numerous times a day.
The second (lesser) reason is the rise of tablets and mobile news apps. For a more casual audience, it meant that the more user-friendly interfaces were more tempting, something that Google has done with Currents. This will also have a negative effect on smaller blogs who wouldn’t appear in these social feeds since they don’t update nearly as often as the bigger news sites.
Still, it was always nice to have the simplistic and straightforward experience that Google Reader offered, and when it does shut down for good, it will be missed, but here’s what you should do before it’s gone for good.
Downloading Your Google Reader Data
Before you start looking, you should first download your Google Reader data from Takeout. By following the link here, you can download all your data on a handy xml file. Google says that it should be easily transferable to alternative services, but that really depends on whether said services are allowing users to do this. Some like Feedly already do, but other services will quickly follow suit. Even if you don’t use the file straight away, it’s handy to have for future reference.
While this is bad news for users of Google Reader, at the same time, it gives anyone who has a RSS reader service a perfect opportunity to capitalise on this, and many already have. Since we now have three months to find an alternative home for our aggregation needs, here are some of the best alternatives you can download (Note: At the moment, loading may be slow with certain sites below, most likely because of the mass migration from Reader to other services).
For: iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Safari
With a clean bright display, Feedly is one of the more popular RSS readers out there and will end up growing as many people migrate from Google Reader. Allowing you to connect your Google Reader account to it, transferring your data is a simple click away ensuring a seamless transition. It, along with a number of other RSS readers, are offering a replacement service (cleverly called Normandy) allowing you to save your data on its service.
For: Web, iOS
Removing the clutter from reading and leaving only the articles you want to read, Prismatic has become a hit with iPhone users for its approach. With a simple interface, social elements and numerous suggestions based upon your interests, subscriptions and your location, it’s an incredibly useful app for those who are always on the go.
The Old Reader
For: Web, Chrome, Safari
Billing itself as the ultimate social RSS reader, The Old Reader describes itself as much like the old Google Reader, but better. Allowing you to sign in using your Google (preferably) or your Facebook account, you can import your feed subscriptions onto it, but at the moment, the flux of people migrating to it means that there aren’t any slots available at the moment.
For: iOS, Android
Considering how it now partnered with Google, it would be amiss not to include it considering how stylish it is. However, that style comes with a price. While it allows you to integrate your Google Reader subscriptions into the service, its layout means that only certain stories get prioritised. If you use Google Reader for more casual reading, then this won’t be a problem, but if you have your subscription feed perfected, that might end up being too great an issue to overlook.
For: Web, iOS, Android
Another site that has an import from Google Reader section, NewsBlur isn’t the nicest site to look at if you compare it to the others on this list. However, it does have a number of handy features that makes it worth considering. Sharing options, a focus mode that only highlights the unread stories in your feed, and a training mode which allows you to highlight or hide stories so the service knows for future reference.