You’ve got to hand it to Google: they built a web-based RSS client so good that many similar services simply closed up shop, realizing they couldn’t compete. Sure, when Google removed the sharing function from Reader in 2011 it upset a lot of people, but for the most part Google has dominated the RSS field so completely it was hard for anyone to point to a rival.
They’re out there, though. Guy outlined some Google Reader alternatives, for example. But if you’re looking for an equivalent to Google these are just a few of the web’s best alternatives to Google Reader – one of them is bound to be right for you. If not, wait: we’re sure others will be built in the months to come.
The Top Four Replacements For Google Reader
Feedly: For a Seamless Transition
Looking for a simple way to switch? Check out Feedly. This service currently acts as a layer on top of Google Reader, but that’s going to change: their self-proclaimed “Project Normandy” means your content will automatically transfer from Reader to Feedly when the time is right. So get used to using Feedly now – it will keep syncing with Google Reader, so you can use both during the transition. Seamless.
It will feel alien at first – that weird magazine layout is off-putting for serious feed readers – but you can make it feel familiar with some tweaking. Feedly even offers a guide for making Feedly feel more like Google Reader, if you’re concerned about your work flow changing.
A big advantage of this service is that it already syncs with all of your devices: there are mobile and desktop versions. One the desktop Feedly comes as a browser extension: there’s a Firefox version of Feedly, for example, and also versions for Chrome and Safari (sorry, IE users).
There’s also a gorgeous mobile version of Feedly, with which you can flip through magazine-style or one story at a time.
If you’re looking to simplify the transition as much as possible – and still be able to keep using Google Reader, for now, without going out of sync – Feedly is probably your current best bet. Head to Feedly.com to get started.
Newsblur: For A Complete Google Reader Alternative
Feedly is great, but it does require a browser extension. If you don’t like that, but still want a service with a quick way to grab feeds from Google Reader, NewsBlur might be right for you. It offers an import tool, apps for Android and iOS and quite a few features for discovering content.
The downside: the full version limits the numbers of feeds you can add. Their servers have been slammed due to the recent news, so for a while the limit will be 12 – after that, 64. The paid version eliminates this limitation, of course. Check out NewsBlur.com for more information, or to sign up or read our quick Newsblur review.
The Old Reader: For Something Familiar
Want to set up something simple, but with the sharing Google Reader used to offer? Check out The Old Reader, a web-based feed reader created after Google’s 2011 decision to remove the sharing feature in favor of Google Plus. Its interface is almost identical to that of the pre-2011 Google Reader, and you can even import (not sync) your feeds from Google’s dying service.
And as I said earlier: this reader brings back the “share” functionality beloved by Google Reader users. Of course, this is only really useful if you convince your friends to switch to The Old Reader — not a sure thing. But if you can get them to use your service you just might be in luck. The down side: there’s no mobile versions, as of yet.
Flipboard: For Something Different
Flipboard is a social magazine, with versions for Android, the iPad, and the iPhone. If you primarily do your reading on a mobile device, good news: you can add your Google Reader account to Flipboard. The team there announced that Flipboard will allow you to import your Reader feeds, meaning you’ll be able to keep reading everything in Flipboard when Reader shuts down.
Aesthetically this is an attractive option, but potentially not the most productive: the app seems designed more for browsing than feed reading.
But Wait…There’s More!
The above list isn’t exhausted, but one of them should cover most people. If that doesn’t include you here’s a quick run down of some other alternatives:
- Feedbooster is an extremely customizable RSS app. Check it out.
- Brief is a simple Firefox extension and a very simple RSS reader. It doesn’t sync, but you might like it.
- Tiny Tiny RSS. You’ll need to install this on a web server, but at least you know no one can shut it down.
- 1kPlus is a lightweight, web-based RSS reader. Clean and simple.
- Rolio combines your RSS feeds with Facebook and Twitter.
- Bazqux sets itself apart by showing comments as well as articles.
- Skimr isn’t an RSS per se, but it is a very clean way to read a variety of sites.
- Feedafever attempts to point out which items are “hot”, meaning popular. Not free.
- CollectedInfo allows anyone to create a collection of feeds about any topic.
Did I miss something? Let everyone know in the comments below. I could keep going, but why not check out our RSS tag? It includes many feed readers, only most of which require a Google Reader account to functions (Man, a lot of third party apps are going to break…)
None of these is a perfect replacement, but of course there are more coming. Digg recently announced plans to build a replacement – complete with an API – and you can be sure they’re not the only company out there that would like to gain the users Google is ditching. Stay tuned – we’ll keep you up to date regarding the best Google Reader replacements. Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Google Reader to….oh wait.
A Tune You Know
A long long time ago
I can still remember how that content used to make me smile
And I knew if I had the time I could check those feeds of mine
And maybe feel informed, just for a while
But March 13 it made me shiver with every feed that was delivered
Bad news on the front page I was filled with blind rage
I can’t remember if I cussed
When I read I should use Google Plus
Twitter made the biggest fuss
The day the Reader died
And we were tweetin’
Bye bye aggregator in the sky
I really need to check my feed but the Reader’s gone dry
Those good ol’ boys shared petitions and cries, tweetin’
This’ll be how RSS dies
This’ll be how RSS dies
(Hopefully not, though – let us know what alternative you’ll be using in the comments below).