If you’re a Google Reader user like me, you’re probably freaking out about Google’s announcement that they are retiring Google Reader, effective July 1st, 2013.
Reader is/was a great RSS reader because it allows me to quickly scan the feeds of the many sites I follow across multiple devices. There are a bunch of RSS readers out there, but Google created an API (Application Programming Interface) that allowed other developers to create apps to view and manage your feed subscriptions.
If I marked a post as “read” on my laptop using the Google Reader in my browser, that same post would be marked “read” on my phone’s RSS reader, Feeddler Pro (a great app by the way). That’s the power of their API.
Now that Google is killing Reader, and it’s API, Feeddler will become useless.
What’s the alternative?
As I began to search for alternatives, I came across a CNET article with five alternatives to Google Reader. The first one was feedly, but it syncs using Google’s API, so I passed it over along with the other five. However, in the article’s comments, someone posted a link to an announcement on feedly’s blog that they’ve been building a clone of the Google Reader API. Codenamed Normandy, the project arose because feedly’s been expecting the Reader shutdown for a while.
If you begin using feedly with Google Reader before July 1st, you won’t notice any changes. The changeover will be seamless. I figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try.
If you’re using Chrome, Safari, or Firefox, Feedler is a free browser plugin, and their Android and iOS apps are also free.
Getting to my Reader feeds in feedly was easy. First, I just clicked on the feedly Chrome Web Store link on their blog page. Then click on the blue “Add to Chrome” button at the top right.
Next, click the Add button to confirm you want to add the plugin to Chrome.
Up comes the feedly login page. If you’re already signed into the same Google Account that uses Google Reader, all you have to do is click the “Connect to Google Reader” button.
You’ll see one more confirmation pop-up to let feedly access some of your Google Profile information. Click the “Allow access” button.
Be patient. If you’re trying out feedly soon after the Google Reader announcement, it’s a bit slow. No doubt they’re getting slammed by all the disgruntled Reader users.
In order to ease the transition from Google Reader, feedly has published some tips to help adapt to it’s desktop interface.
Also, there are two versions of feedly – a regular and a “plus” version. The main difference is that feedly plus has a toolbar button that shows the number of unread articles and gives you a way to quickly launch feedly.
Feedly also says that the plus version will “evolve into a tool for power readers.” Perhaps that means it will eventually become a freemium service, which is something to keep in mind before getting too attached to it.
One other cool thing I read in feedly’s Normandy announcement is that they are inviting third-party developers who use the Google Reader API to get in touch if they’re interested in using Normandy for their apps. Maybe I won’t have to get rid of my iPhone’s Feeddler app after all, which would be nice in case feedly doesn’t work out.
I’m sure a lot is going to happen in the RSS reader arena in the near future as a result of Reader’s retirement. Help us all find the best alternative, and let us know in the comments what you’re using instead of Google Reader and how you like it.