Last week, the world let out a collective sigh in exasperation when Google announced that it would be “winding down” its long-running RSS service, Google Reader. While it stands to be an inconvenience for some, it’s an earth-shattering one for journalists who rely on Google Reader’s services daily to pick up on beats and understand what competitors are running every day.
If you’re still concerned about how where to go after Google Reader shutters on July 1st of this year, then fear not: there are plenty of reasonable and free alternatives to port your sources. Here’s a roundup of a few apps that will fit your individual needs as a news-consuming journalist and also give you a great RSS experience without breaking your budget.
What’s your favorite RSS alternative? Let us know in the comments!
1. For Those Who Want the Old Google Back: The Old Reader
The Old Reader is exactly what it claims to be: a recreation of the Google Reader as it was in 2011, before the introduction of the new design and share features to align the product with Google+. The free service is still in beta, but is able to seamlessly import an existing RSS feed list. The design is minimal — like the classic Google Reader — and allows users to follow other people and share their stories easily on Facebook or via email.
The app has already gotten a flood of beta invite requests from users eager to port over as soon as possible, so the teeny startup behind the app is overwhelmed. However, with a new mobile app on the horizon, it’s easy to guess that The Old Reader will be the closest to a Google experience as possible.
2. For An App Experience: Feedly
If you enjoy reading RSS on your iPad or Android tablet, then it’s highly likely that you’re already using free service Feedly to add user experience to your morning read. But did you know it’s also available for Google Chrome? Feedly has a lot of those “magazine” qualities of premium RSS apps without the cost, and groups stories together by outlet or by date. If finding trending stories is more your thing, then you can set the app to rank stories by how “hot” they are, and then save it all for later.
The company behind Feedly is currently working on a new sync engine that will allow users to continue the service once Google Reader is phased out — snap it up now and give it a spin.
3. For Even More Curation: Pulse
Another very popular app for mobile users, Pulse is a better fit for those who are looking for an algorithm to only give them the most interesting stories out there. Its news curation abilities are very well-tuned, and all stories are presented in a great tile interface that makes it easy to stay engaged. It’s already a much-loved news aggregator, and is a great fit for someone looking for more flair.
At this point, the only way to directly import feeds into Pulse is to do it via mobile. However, once that’s done, the system will manage all of them for you with no extra work involved.
4. For When You Want Bells and Whistles: NewsBlur
NewsBlur, a free downloadable web app for both mobile and desktop, certainly has a lot of features that stretch beyond what you normally see in a standard RSS reader. You can toggle every story to display in a wide variety of modes — including text only and native website — with just a simple click. You can also start your own “BlurBlog,” which is a public collection of saved stories that you can broadcast to anyone. But most of all, it’s a simple, straightforward, real-time RSS feed that feels like it’s moving, with new stories popping up rather than consistently hitting the refresh button.
Unfortunately, this is the only service in this roundup that comes with limits. A free account will limit your reader to only 12 websites, and a premium account will get you unlimited access to feeds plus extra sharing features and even faster updates for $24 per month. But, it’s a cost that’s easily mitigated if you’re an RSS power user. Happy Hunting!