Leaving Google Reader: Change Could Do You Good

leaving Google ReaderGoogle Reader is going to croak as of July 1, but this shouldn’t be news to anyone who spends time surfing news sites.  Yes, Google Reader is dead, but I’m not grieving. Actually, I’m celebrating.

Why? Because Reader’s impending death has opened the door to innovation. Web companies are offering their own replacements for the venerable old app. Google actually did the market a favor. Leaving Google Reader could turn out to be a good thing.

Choosing a new RSS reader can be difficult however, especially for someone like me who became comfortable using GR and leaned heavily on it. Nonetheless, I looked around, tried a few, and made a decision. I’ll share the steps I took in making my decision.

When I first read Google’s unceremonious announcement that Reader was being shut down, I panicked (along with nearly everyone else) and immediately began searching for another reader.  The application I sought had to:

  • look great on a laptop
  • have a mobile app counterpart that also looks great
  • offer quick methods of emailing links
  • be able to import my stuff from Google Reader

NetVibes

I installed NetVibes and took it for a spin. Positive: I liked its clean looks and design. Negative: There was no mobile app. There was also no way to import from Google. Those were deal killers for me.

Pulse

I always have liked Pulse and I still have an account with them. Positive:  Clean looks and great image-based interface. I loved using it on my laptop. Negative: Pulse looks great on my Samsung Galaxy S3, too, but Pulse lacks a function to email the gist of a news item to myself. I could open a link, and then send the whole page using the Email Page function, but that was a deal killer. I didn’t think my requirements were strict, but I guess they were.

The Old Reader

I heard good things about this unsung app, so I tried it. First, it crashed. Then it wouldn’t let me log in. Then I tried importing my feeds, all 273 of them. It took was seems like weeks, but the Old Reader finally got it done. I admit I liked Old Reader the best of those I tried thus far, but the next application I tried rapidly took the lead. Positive: It is very nicely laid out. Negative: No mobile app and no function for emailing a news item.

Curata

I investigated this service on a tip from a friend. They have a web site and offer to import your Google data, but as far as mobile apps go, the curate app gets one star and has one user according to the Google Play store. Compare this to the Feedly mobile app, which gets 4.5 stars and has more than 78,000 users. I tried the web app. It allowed me to sign in using my Google credentials and imported my feeds. The problems started when I installed the mobile app. I was not allowed to log in using my Google account. I had to have a separate Curata log in. That would mean, as far as I could tell, losing my Google feeds. No deal. I moved on to the next candidate.

Digg Reader

I went to the site, but the Digg Reader won’t be ready until just a few days before Google Reader shuts down, but you can request an invitation. (To paraphrase a famous line from a famous movie: “Invitation? I don’t need no stinking invitation!”) They are cutting it too close if you ask me. Moving on to….

Feedly

I heard about this app from Lifehacker (great site, BTW). I pulled up www.feedly.com and liked what I saw. It read something like this: “Don’t panic. We know Google Reader is going away. You will be able to save all your feeds. We guarantee it. Hey, we like our feeds, too. “ The folks at Feedly then gave excellent instructions on how to export from  Google and how to import my OPM/XML file. I work as a technical writer, so I know good instructions when I follow them. They also warned that it could take awhile, that the site might crash, that my import could crash or hang, but to please bear with them.

I loved hearing the upbeat news first, then getting the down-and-dirty details.  They sounded like good programmers trying to upgrade their site and take in millions of Google Reader refugees.

Feedly was right. I was able to log in, but then the site froze. When I refreshed, got a message about the site being unavailable. But I hung in and kept trying.  My feeds finally were imported on the second day of trying. Positives: Web-based site I can access on my laptop. I have a mobile app for my S3. I can email news items and earmark them for saving. Big Positive: I was able to create categories for everything I need to create the Technical Writer This Week posts for TechWhirl. These include TW for Technical Writing, Content for Content Strategy, UX for User Experience, and Career and Life for, naturally, Career and Life. Negatives: Can’t think of anything.

I’m sticking with Feedly, but your requirements may differ from mine. Take a look at the links below and make up your own mind. Start with the Lifehacker directions to save your reader data using Google Takeout … then you can take your feeds to the reader that works for you.

RSS Feed Reader Resources

Have you found an RSS Reader that helps you forget the loss?  Post a comment and share how you’re handling leaving Google Reader.

Craig Cardimon

Craig Cardimon wears many hats and loves all of them -- technical communicator, content curator, and freelance copywriter. In his not-so-copious spare time, he reads, writes, runs on the local trail, and watches way too much "retro" TV.

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