RIP Google Reader

On July 1st, 2013 Google will be shutting down its Google Reader product in an effort to clean up and create a more unified product suite for Google+.

This move was, of course, to compete with Facebook and other social media sites and offer products that can be monetized. In other words, Google Reader doesn’t make them any money, so it must go. Google Reader launched on October 7, 2005 and developed a relatively small but fiercely loyal audience. It is survived by its family of Google Products, including Google Maps and Google Play.

Let’s for a moment remember the glory days of RSS when it was the only game in town. A website created a Real Simple Syndication (RSS) and that was sent to your reader of choice, namely Google Reader. Along came the social media revolution and suddenly the simple yet effective RSS feed seems trivial. Along with the change in internet technology came a change in how people are using the web. We now have several ways of searching for and discovering content online and for most people an RSS aggregator is no longer the standard. What about the rest of us? What if I, like so many other people, used Google Reader as my sole gateway into the ever expanding, twisted, and often confusing universe of internet content. Google Reader was like a road map that showed me the express lane, cut out all the noise, and showed me what I wanted to read. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but how could any RSS reader ever be? We had some great times Google Reader, but now it’s time to say goodbye.

But wait, what’s that, you mean I can still sort through my RSS feeds without Google Reader? In fact, there are numerous worthy replacements to Google Reader, and with a small amount of transitioning you should be able to make the move quite nicely. Since Google dropped the news about Google Reader techies everywhere have been doing research to decide who would be the heir to the RSS reader throne that Google Reader sat upon for so many years. In my research, I’ve found three replacements that I think are more than fit to wear the crown. These are Feedly, The Old Reader, and Flipboard.

The Old Reader

If you’re convinced that there is no replacement for Google Reader, than “The Old Reader” is the best option for you. The site proclaims they’re “the same as Google Reader, only better,” and they’re not just blowing smoke, the site almost mirrors Google Reader. While the product is still in Beta, The Old Reader appears to be a great replacement, and it allows you to sign in via Google or Facebook and import your old feeds. There is no mobile app yet, but the developers say it’s at the top of their list. The Old Reader is fast, simple, free, and definitely worth a look.

Flipboard

Flipboard is a great alternative to the traditional Google Reader-type RSS aggregator. Built solely for mobile devices, Flipboard now has versions for Android, iPad, and iPhone. If you do most of your reading on a mobile device then this is a great call for you. Like Feedly, Flipboard will allow you to import your Google Reader feeds, and keep them once Reader goes bye-bye. Aesthetically Flipboard is great, although it is probably better for browsing than real in depth reading.

Feedly

Feedly is your best bet for a smooth transition from Google Reader and my personal recommendation as the best feed reader.

In response to Google, Feedly immediately made updates to the site that would make it the obvious choice. Already a popular alternative, Feedly is now the obvious next step for traditional RSS aficionados. Feedly will also serve as the feed engine for other feed readers. As the most robust feed reader, Feedly now gives users the ability to sort their feeds alphabetically, has a better contrast between read/unread articles, keyboard shortcuts, and overall better recommendations. On top of these changes, your current Google Reader content will automatically transfer when the July doomsday finally arrives. For now it will keep syncing with Google Reader, and when the fateful day finally arrives, poof it’s all there. That’s seamless.

These are just three of the countless reader alternatives for you to peruse before July. Whether or not this leads to the end of the RSS feed as we know it remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, Google Reader may be gone, but it will not soon be forgotten.

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