Bye, bye Google Reader

Tomorrow is the end of Google Reader. It’s being shut down, upsetting hundreds of thousands of active users, me included. I really do love Google Reader; its web user interface is great, the mobile apps are great, it’s quick, responsive, and gives a good overview of all my feeds. Now it’s time to find an alternative.

Google’s competitors got quite a boost after the shutdown was announced. Feedly, one of the major ones in this regard, reported 500 000 new users over 48 hours (!) after the announcement [1]. NewsBlur reported over 50000 new users being added to the existing 1500, basically crashing the site [2]. A third candidate, The Old Reader, is also in the running but lacks a good mobile interface. So what to choose? Well, here’s the quick and dirty overview.

Feedly is the most popular of the three. The mobile app looks really smooth, and since a few weeks back, it’s also got a web interface. Importing the data from Google Reader was very straight forward, and can be done from either the app itself, or the website. One thing I noticed is that when you click on the link to navigate to the article on the website in the mobile app, it’ll actually open the site in the app itself. This convenience did not exist in Google Reader, so for me it’s an upgrade.

NewsBlur is not purely a free service like Feedly; you can use the free version if you don’t have too many feeds (less than 60), otherwise you’ll have to pay for the premium subscription of $24 a year. NewsBlur also supports importing your data from Google Reader with minimal effort, but the import did not seem to keep the “read/unread” flags from Google Reader. So if you’ve stacked up a lot of unread articles that you’d like to go through sometime, be aware of this. The website looks a bit more old fashioned than Feedly, and so does the mobile app. Functionally though, it seems to work smoothly.

The Old Reader is aiming to be more like the good, old Google Reader. However, a big killer for this service is that it does not have a mobile app! It’s possible however to write a third-party app for it, as it exposes an API for doing so. Also, importing the Google Reader data is more inconvenient than the other two services above. You actually need to export the data manually first, it’s not a one-click operation. Of course, it’s a one-time operation, so it can be forgiven. Like NewsBlur, The Old Reader does not keep your read/unread state of your feeds when importing. The web interface is functional, and does have a lot of similarities with Google Reader. I feel the Feedly website is a bit fresher and modern.

Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully this will make it a bit easier for you to choose a replacement for Google Reader!


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