Thursday, March 14, 2013

Say Good-Bye To Google Reader With These Alternatives

Earlier this week Google confirmed they'd be shutting down Google Reader as of July 1st, stating the once popular RSS feed reader is no longer as popular as it use to be and therefore no longer a high priority for the company to maintain. The search giant is giving Google Readers three months to find an alternative RSS reader. Current Reader data, including subscriptions, can be preserved via Google Takeout.

"There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we're pouring all of our energy into fewer products," Alan Green, a Google software engineer, wrote in a blog post. "We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience."

Saying So Long To Google Reader Step One: Find a New RSS Reader

First things first, you need to narrow down your choices and find the options that best suite your needs. If you are like me and read your RSS feeds across several devices then you'll want to look at online web or cloud based services similar to what Google Reader is now. These will allow you to sync pull in your feeds from any device anywhere. For those of you that only have a single device or only want to read your feeds from your desktop then you can go with desktop readers or widgets (depending on your device).

Here are a few options to get you started:

Feedly: This is by far one of the most popular and widely suggested options for those who need one reader on all their devices. Desktop-wise it runs in Chrome and Firefox via extensions and in addition to standard Android and iOS apps, you can also find it on Kindle. Feedly has also said that they'll have a "seamless" transition method in place when Reader goes down.

NewsBlur: This is another solid alternative that many of you will find a bit more familiar than Feedly. The interface is more Google-Reader-esque and you can try it out on the spot. There are two options, a free account which maxes out at 64 feeds, or an unlimited subscription for only $1 a month.

Netvibes: Their service has been around for about as long as Google Reader and offers another great choice. Its basic service is free, and users can pay more for features like analytics, alerts and sentiment. Netvibes even has directions on how to import Reader information using Google Takeout.

For those looking for desktop solutions:

Most Operating systems and browsers offer an RSS reading widget or in browser options. However, I like to add a few more features they don't have. For Firefox I use Feed Sidebar. This great little extension gives you the option to view and feeds saved in your Live Bookmarks in the sidebar and with Firefox Sync you can use it with several computers. For Chrome users I use and suggest Slick RSS. This extensions displays your feeds in a single pane and all of the articles in the many body of a tab. It makes reading a breeze!

For those looking for a standalone application FeedDemon would generally by my suggestion since it was largely the most popular RSS reader for Windows for years. However sadly with Google Reader being shuttered, so to is FeedDemon. So for now I can't make a strong suggestion

Step Two: Import Your Google Reader Feeds

Once you've decide which RSS reader is right for you, you should import your Google Reader feeds so you don't have to re-subscribe to everything. Luckily, migrating your feeds from Google Reader is very simple. Here's what you need to do:
  1. Head to Google Takeout's Reader page and click the Create Archive button. It'll start building a file with all your feeds, the people you follow, starred items, and more (though most of these won't be importable to other sites).
  2. Once it's finished building, click the Download button that appears to get your subscriptions.
  3. Open up the ZIP file you just downloaded and go through the folders inside. Inside the Reader folder, you should see a file called subscriptions.xml. Extract that to your desktop.
  4. Open up your new feed reader of choice, head into its settings, and find the Import option. Select it, and choose the subscriptions.xml file you just extracted. All of your feeds should appear in your new reader.
This won't import your starred items or know which articles you've already read on Google Reader, but at least you'll still have all your subscriptions.

Forget the RSS

Honestly with all that social media has to offer who really needs RSS these days. Sure I hate to have to wade through the tide of Tweets or posts but you can find all the latest news with Twitter or Facebook. For news junkies, Twitter is definitely the fastest way to get news--but that doesn't always mean it is the best, most reliable, or even the most relevant.

Either way you go I have to say I think its a sad day for us news junkies. I liked seeing my feeds cleanly sorted and ready for me to read on a daily basis.

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