The countdown has begun . . . Google Reader, the preferred RSS reader of thousands, will shut down on July 1. The outcry at the news was loud, with thousands signing this petition and major news outlets like CBS, Fox News, and CNN covering the story.
This latest spring cleaning list brings the total of features and services closed since 2011 to 70. Google is cleaning house. In their words:
“We’re living in a new kind of computing environment. Everyone has a device, sometimes multiple devices. It’s been a long time since we have had this rate of change—it probably hasn’t happened since the birth of personal computing 40 years ago. To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact.” (source)
What does this mean for me as a reader?
If you don’t use Google Reader as your means for following your favorite blogs, you aren’t going to notice a difference. If you do use Google Reader, you need to take some steps to ensure that you don’t lose your RSS subscriptions.
You have until July 1 to save your subscriptions and find an alternative!
(Google makes it simple to save your subscriptions via Google Takeout.)
What is the best Google Reader alternative?
The safest, most reliable way to subscribe to your favorite blogs is by email. It eliminates your dependence on a feed reader altogether and sends your favorite posts to your inbox.
If you prefer to continue reading blogs in a Reader, you do have options.
One of the most seamless transitions for you will be to switch from Google Reader to Feedly. Feedly provides a more visually appealing Reader—which makes people like me very happy. (In fact, Feedly has been my reader of choice for quite a while now.) Feedly syncs your Google Reader subscriptions by accessing your Google account (with your permission, of course). Feedly promises a seamless migration when Google Reader shuts down. According to their blog, you just need to start using Feedly before July 1 and all of your subscriptions will continue at Feedly after Google Reader retires. Feedly even offers helpful information on how to adapt to their interface.
One of my favorite features at Feedly is that I have multiple viewing options. The “titles” view mimics Google Reader, while the other views offer a more visually appealing reading experience. In addition, they have a great app for mobile devices that offers the same features.
BlogRoll, which is currently in beta, looks to be a promising alternative to Google Reader as well. It passes one of my top tests for a Reader app . . . it looks nice. (Just being honest here. If a Reader option is not visually appealing, it’s a deal breaker for me.) BlogRoll allows you to log in to your Google account just like Feedly does. I emailed their support to ask if my subcriptions were actually imported or if they were merely synced with Google Reader. BlogRoll support emailed me back within a couple of hours and let me know that Google Reader subscriptions are indeed truly imported. I was glad to hear that and very impressed with their prompt reply.
After trying BlogRoll, I can honestly say I would consider switching from Feedly if BlogRoll develops an iPhone app. Right now, there isn’t an iPhone app available, and that’s a feature I personally need. BlogRoll is definitely one to watch!
The Old Reader
The Old Reader is another service that offers an easy way to transfer your Google Reader subscriptions. I tried it out this week as well. A huge downside to me is that it doesn’t seem to offer a way to easily share stories across social media. Maybe there is a way, but I certainly didn’t see it. It does integrate with Pocket though. The Old Reader doesn’t have an app for mobile devices, but they began working on one in October 2012.
NewsBlur advertises a free option (with some fairly significant limitations) or paid options (starting at $24 a year). When I tried to sign up for the free option, their site said that new free accounts are temporarily suspended, and the only option is to sign up for a paid account. I tried their test drive, and I wasn’t overly impressed with the layout (that’s a big deal to me). I was not able to try sharing stories since I was not logged in to an account.
Right now, the general consensus is that Feedly is the best Google Reader alternative. However, it’s likely that a variety of new RSS Readers will be developed now that Google is removing themselves from the game. You definitely need to make the switch away from Google Reader before July 1, including downloading your subscription file.
If you want to remove RSS Reader services from the equation, the you can simply decide to subscribe to blogs by email. If you’d like to try subscribing to Design by Insight via email, just enter your email address below!
For Additional Reading
Have you made the switch yet? Still confused? Let’s chat in the comments!