I guess you probably heard the latest announcements about the Google Reader shutdown. I heard about it already about half a year ago I guess, but didn’t want to believe initially. Now it seems to turn into reality, at least starting with July 1st. The search for alternatives has begun…
I’m a Google Reader user from the very beginning, when it was launched as a labs product. I liked the idea of having a web app where to collect and consume my news. At that time, it was quite a new thing as most RSS readers were desktop-based apps. I liked the idea of being able to seemlessly access my news at my home computer or while studying at some university computer.
That remained so, till now. GReader is my personal place for trying to consume the immense amount of news that get published on the web each day. Of course, it wasn’t the only place, social networks, especially Twitter, have become more and more important for me to pick up some important article or an interesting link.
Seems Time to Change
Many passionate GReader users don’t like the idea of moving to another product and so didn’t I. They even started a petition against stopping Google Reader. Nice initiatives that show how many people liked the product. Honestly speaking, I don’t think Google will change its plans. And then, after all, if a company decides to quit a product, even if they change and keep it running, it will quickly become obsolete due to missing investments. It’s already now that - if you compare GReader to other products - it lacks updated features like maybe a more modern UI, social network integrations and it’s ages since its mobile Android client received significant updates. So I think, it’s really time to move forward.
Is switching really so hard as it seems?? Personally, when I look at my recent habits, I notice that my usage of Google Reader (on the web) declined significantly in the last years. Mostly I just added new feeds and then consumed them on my mobile, through GReader Android, or even more often through other 3rd party apps like Press or Flipboard. So the day when the announcements about GReader’s shutdown went out, I decided to look around for a worthy alternative.
Feedly - A Worthy Alternative?
There are tons of articles now on the web presenting potential GReader alternatives. A quick search and while going over some of these, revealed Feedly which immediately caught my attention.
Here just some of the features I discovered so far and already started to like.
(TLDR: Just jump to my conclusion at the end)
HTML5+Mobile. We love the power and openness of the web. We work hard on making Web+HTML5 a vibrant alternative to native mobile app development. Feedly About
The Chrome Extension adds a nice share button directly in the lower right corner for quickly subscribing to a new feed or for saving it to read it later.
The web frontend has been crafted with care for the details, something I especially note as a web dev. As such, for instance, menus disappear in the form of little icons when there is not enough space or fully expand on your 27’’ monitor.
The mobile clients look modern and clean and a big plus is that you can navigate throughout most of the app by exclusively using swipe gestures (a bit similar to Flipboard). Have a look at it by yourself:
Note that although the video demoes the iOS app, the Android one is exactly the same (due to the HTML5 approach of building it).
A negative thing about Feedly for Android is its missing offline support. So far, when you start Feedly without an active connection, you’ll get logged out. Offline functionality is an extremely important feature for a news reader as - most often especially when I don’t have any active connection - I’d like to read through my feeds (that have been synched previously). If you like that as well, go and vote this feature!
Customize it The Way You Like
It has tons of customization possibilities. Starting from the background, font or the way articles are being presented.
No two feedlies are the same. We all have unique appetites when it comes to feeding our minds. Add the sources that inspire you and the news that matters to you. Pick your layout and your theme. Feedly is your web. Feedly About
Feed Aggregation and Social Integration
Beside UI customizations Feedly also tries to seamlessly integrate news feeds from your social networks like Twitter or Facebook. A “Today” section gives a quick overview of the most important news of the current day and there are possibilities to search and add new feeds based on common categories.
Sounds like they have me already, right? Not yet, but I’m quite satisfied in using the service for only a couple of days now. I had some minor issues in getting logged in on the Android client, but presumably that’s due to the high number of requests they’re now getting due to the GReader shutdown notice. The product looks really very promising, I like the mobile client and I have all the imaginable customization possibilities I like and liked to have with GReader:
- mark as read while scrolling over articles
- mark all as read
- change the order of listing articles (old first)
- day/night mode on the mobile client (GReader client didn’t even have this)
Sure, I’m also missing some features like “Search” and there will come up a couple more when using Feedly for some weeks. Since there’s a team behind which is working hard on improving the service with the interest to become the best news reader app available, makes hope for new amazing features to come soon.
As mentioned, one thing that puzzles me a bit is the missing offline capabilities of the Android client, so Feedly team, get that done soon ;). Vote for that feature here if you’d enjoy that as well.
So let’s see in a couple of weeks/months on whether I’ll really miss Google Reader.