In case you have chosen to procrastinate, Reader, the popular RSS feed reader, is being put out to pasture by Google tomorrow. If you have been idling despite notification in mid-March, the time to migrate services is now.
Many services offer a direct import from Google Reader, making the transition a very easy process. In case you wish to change services after the deadline, it would also be wise to export your Reader data from Google Takeout. Google Takeout for Reader provides a download of your data. The downloaded .zip contains 8 files, most importantly being subscriptions.xml, which will work with services capable of importing OPML files.
Once you have your data, it’s only a matter of adapting to a new interface. But, where to go? Four services have risen from Reader’s ashes and offer various features. In my opinion, I would look at these alternatives in this order.
I am a Newsblur fanboy now. Newsblur looks like an email client with the reading pane. Speed and reliability have become much improved since the mass exodus. Newsblur offers iOS and Android apps, in addition to being open source so you could run your own Newsblur servers. There are a few other sites out there running Newsblur as a service but I wouldn’t waste time with those. The biggest feature of Newsblur is its Intelligence Trainer, which allows you to filter the news you want to see and the news you want to skip very easily. It reduces the incoming news to what you care about. I also like that it has a business model supported by premium subscribers whereas ‘free’ may have been Google Reader’s downfall.
Hive is very much still in beta but it offers a typographically nice experience. Its developer first started talking about it when Google Reader’s redesign was not well liked but it stalled for quite a while. The retirement of Google Reader reignited the fire and the finished product is looking good.
I’m not quite sure why but everybody seems to be making Feedly out to be the assumed heir of Google Reader. Feedly offers multiple views like title, magazine, cards, and full article. It uses infinite scroll to keep the list going without a long load time. I really dislike the collapsing sidebar on the left that appears on hover but otherwise hides the folder structure of organization. Feedly has iOS and Android apps available. The site uses your Google login which also allowed it to easily import the feed information from Google Reader. You can search for a feed with the keyboard shortcut ‘gg’ but you cannot search for individual articles, which is common of all of these services.
4. Digg Reader
After Digg’s redesign sent many users to Reddit, it has been looking for a way to become relevant again. Is its future as an RSS feed reader? Their reader offers a list or expanded view and looks the most like Google Reader. If you’re a Digg user, you might appreciate the Digg integration. If you just wish Google Reader would stay around, you could go with Digg Reader but if you are looking to see some innovation in RSS feeds, I would check out one of the other suggestions.
By Google retiring Reader, it has sparked a lot of development and conversation about RSS feeds, possibly resurrecting the platform from its stagnation and seeming replacement with Twitter, Facebook, and other social network subscriptions.
With Reader retiring tomorrow, you still have time to export your subscription data and the ability to check out any of the services above. I enjoy Newsblur a lot but everybody has their own preferences and vision of how a subscription reader would work. I hope you find something that works for you.