If you are one of the many loyal users of Google Reader, it’s time to think about what you will do when Google pulls the plug on the RSS feed aggregator in July.
Reader is not the only RSS feed reader, and we took a look at some of the others. What follows is a rundown of what they do and don’t do.
The Old Reader is most like Google Reader. It allows users to order and rename feeds, for example. It features Facebook integration for users to share what they read. Like Reader, it has a bare-bones interface.
MyYahoo is also very similar to Google Reader — unsavory design and all. It is widely available around the Web. It requires a Yahoo ID.
The most popular alternative appears to be Feedly, a browser add-on built to display feeds from Google Reader in a more visually appealing interface. The company told users earlier this week that it will build its own reader, which will automatically import Google Reader subscriptions.
Feedly sets up a button in the browser’s tool bar so the feeds are always one click away. But it doesn’t automatically display all feeds on the first page. Some are stashed under “index,” forcing the user to navigate back and forth to that page each time s/he accesses one of those feeds.
Netvibes offers a customizable home page that includes RSS feeds. Users can subscribe to RSS feeds the old-fashioned way. They can also type in a topic and the site will generate a list of sources that mention that topic. Twitter mentions of the topic also appear under a separate tab. Netvibes also offers analytics as part of a premium package.
Although FeedDemon is included in the standard list of RSS feeds that websites provide when the user clicks the orange button, it works only in Windows. Rather than improve on Reader’s design, it facilitates search by allowing the user to create keywords for content.
NewsBlur is an app for Web, iOS and Android that also aimed to improve on Reader’s design. The learns over time which feeds the user interacts with and displays them prominently. Users who follow to more than 64 feeds have to pay for a premium subscription. (SocialTimes hasn’t been able to access the service due to technical difficulties that reportedly stem from a spike in new users.)
BlogRoll is a service that suggests publications for the user to follow. It allows users to import their subscriptions from Google Reader but isn’t an RSS client in its own right.
Readers have declined in importance as users have shifted to news-sharing sites and mobile news kiosks. Social platforms, such as Reddit and Twitter, are a great way to find interesting articles. But they’re not a good way to ensure that you’ve read everything from a particular source, or everything about a particular topic.
Pocket, a mobile and desktop-browser app, can work with Twitter and other social apps to help the user create a customized reading list. The user exports links to read, view or listen to the content at a later time.
While Flipboard does not work on desktop devices, it is allowing users to import their Google Reader feeds. The app also provides a list of suggested subscriptions. It integrates with Facebook, Google+ and Pocket.
A similar mobile app, Zite, has also added a reader to its features to allow its users to maintain their RSS subscriptions previously accessed through Reader.