Well, not real tears. But the announcement that Google Reader will no longer be available as of July 1st was personally updating news. Like many people, over the last eight years, this application has become as central a part of my online life as email. It is easily the web site that I spend the most time on, likely more than all of the other sites I frequent combined, including Facebook.
What do I do there? Learn. Laugh. Research. Spy. Reminisce. Observe. Ogle. Be outraged. Get motivated. Get inspired. Pinpoint trends. Predict the future.
With a diverse feed of nptech blogs, traditional news, entertainment, tech, LinkedIn updates, comic strips and anything else that I could figure out how to subscribe to, this is the center of my information flow. I read the Washington Post every day, but I skim the articles because they’re often old news. I don’t have a TV (well, I do have Amazon Prime and Hulu).
And I share the really good stuff. You might say, “what’s the big deal? You can get news from Twitter and Facebook” or “There are other feed readers.”
The big deal is that the other feed readers fall in three categories:
- Too smart: Fever
- Too pretty: Feedly, Pulse
- Too beta: Newsblur, TheOldReader
What made Google Reader the reader for most of us was the sheer utility. My 143 feeds generate about 1000 posts a day. On breaks or commutes, I scan through them, starring anything that looks interesting as I go. When I get home from work, and again in the morning, I go through the starred items, finding the gems.
Key functionality for me is the mobile support. Just like the web site, the Google Reader Android app wins no beauty contests, but it’s fast and simple and supports my workflow.
At this point, I’m putting my hopes on Feedly, listed above as a “too pretty” candidate. It does have a list view that works more like reader does. The mobile client has a list view that is still too graphical, but I’m optimistic that they’ll offer a fix for that before July. Currently, they are a front-end to Google’s servers, which means that there is no need to export/import your feeds to join, and your actions stay synced with Google Reader (Feedly’s Saved Items are Google’s Starred, wherever you mark them). Sometime before July, Feedly plans to move to their own back-end and the change should be seamless.
July is three months away. I’m keeping my eyes open. Assuming that anyone who’s read this far is wrestling with the same challenge, please share your thoughts and solutions in the comments.