The Procrastinator's Guide to Choosing a Google Reader Replacement
Every morning, my routine goes exactly like this: After dragging myself out of bed before the sun comes up, I brush my teeth, stumble down the stairs, and pour myself a huge cup of coffee. Then I sit down in front of my computer and, with crusty sleep still in my eyes, fire up Google Reader and read the latest posts from my favorite sites (speaking of which, you already subscribed to the GameSkinny RSS feed, right?).
At least, that’s how my morning went for years. Today, with my coffee in hand, I logged in to Google Reader and received this message: “Reader will not be available after July 1, 2013. Please be sure to back up your data.”
It Snuck Up on Me
I know that this is not a new announcement. After all, Google told us it was coming way back in March. However, after an initial brief grieving period, I chose to put the news in the back of my mind.
I ignored the announcement the same way you might ignore that loose railing on the front steps – you know that you *should* do something about it, but it’s *just* a small enough problem that you can justify ignoring it. You only get around to fixing it when you’re forced to. Either a small child falls through it (whoops), or the time comes to sell your house.
I’m sure that reminders about the Google Reader shutdown were all over the internet last week. I didn’t see them, because I was on vacation. While sitting on a beach, growing a Castaway beard, and consuming a quantity of beer that would have probably killed most men, the fate an RSS reader was the last thing on my mind.
After hitting the sack when I got home late yesterday evening, I woke up this morning, grabbed my coffee, and looked forward to catching up on everything that I missed last week. It was only then that I realized I was using Google Reader for the last time.
Just to be clear: I totally take the blame for letting this event sneak up on me. But now here I am, with less than 24 hours to choose my new RSS reader. I had assumed that there were tons of great readers out there, but I was wrong. It turns out that Google had such a grip on the space that hardly anybody had even thought about entering it for the last five years.
So here I am scrambling to find a replacement. And if you’re a procrastinator like me, you probably are as well. Here are the best alternatives I’ve found so far. I haven’t settled on any of them yet, but I will be forced to very soon.
At the time of this writing, Feedly seems to be the most well-developed RSS reader product out there. Importing your Google profile is very simple, and the product itself will be instantly familiar to anyone who has spent a lot of time with Reader. You can choose from a familiar list view, or you can opt in to a magazine-style layout. Either way, it’s easy to save your favorite articles to bookmarks, and sharing to social media is a cinch.
When I wake up tomorrow morning, this will be my reader of choice. Only time will tell if it will continue to find a place in my morning routine, but for now I will give it a chance.
When Digg 2.0 launched last year, it just about removed the site from relevancy. Their poorly envisioned product decisions made the company a bit of an internet laughing-stock, and their users abandoned ship faster than the passengers on the Titanic. I may have even made a
few dozen jokes myself, but after seeing their new RSS reader I would like to take it all back.
The Digg Reader has only been out for a couple of days now, but it seems to do a lot of things really well. Importing Google Reader is a breeze, the layout out of the product is nice and clean, and sharing an article through your Twitter or Facebook account is simple.
But while the Digg Reader has a lot of potential, this is a new product -- and there are some key features missing. For example, you can’t mark a post as unread, and you can’t filter by read and unread posts. For me, these are productivity killers.
There’s a lot of promise here, but with those key features absent, this isn’t ready to be my Google Reader replacement (at least not yet).
Digg isn’t the only old school tech company entering the RSS Reader space. If a bare-bones RSS reader is what you’re looking for, then AOL Reader could be perfect for you. The familiar list-view is here, as are a few other options that will be familiar to you if you’ve ever spent much time working in Outlook.
With that said, this product still has some catching up to do before I would consider it a long-term Google Reader replacement. For example, no mobile apps are available for the product at this point in time, and it seems to update noticeably slower than the competition. I plan to revisit the product when those problems are addressed, but for me, there are better options out there right now.
Once you choose your new reader, don’t forget to sign up for the GameSkinny RSS feed. It’s a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on in the world of gaming.