If you’re a big Google Reader fan like me, you’ve no doubt already heard the news: Google Reader will be going away forever on July 1st. While it’s true that I’ve never paid Google a dime for all the time I’ve used Reader, it’s still a heavy blow to the many people who use the product literally every single day. There are a lot of people, especially educators, out there who feel the same.
Needless to say, Google’s announcement resulted in a huge crowd of people instantly looking for a replacement service. This overwhelmed a lot of smaller RSS reader applications for a couple days. Now that things have died down though, I want to go over my five favorite RSS readers and see how each one could be a potential replacement for Google Reader.
By far the most suggested replacement for Google Reader over the past weeks has been Newsblur. In fact, after the news of Reader’s demise, the Newsblur website was absolutely slammed with new signups for a couple days. Fortunately, they seem to be out from under that crushing load now.
Newsblur comes in two tiers: free and premium. Free accounts get you up to 64 subscriptions, while paying $24 per year gets you unlimited subscriptions and more frequent feed updates. Be sure to check out Newsblur’s interface before signing up though, as the odd way in which it’s laid out can be a turn-off for some.
Feedbin went live right around the same time Google made the announcement about Reader. Since it hasn’t existed for a long time already (like Newsblur), it’s not as well known. That said, the developer is adding features at a rapid pace, and the interface is much more slimmed down than Newsblur’s, making it an ideal Reader replacement for minimalists.
The one downside is that Feedbin doesn’t offer a free version of the application; you have to enter your credit card details before you can even use it. Luckily, you can cancel within three days and not be charged, but for some people three days may not be enough time to decide whether they like Feedbin enough to stick with it. Paid plans are either $2 per month or $20 per year.
3. RSS Owl
Unlike Feedbin and Newsblur, RSS Owl is a desktop application, which means you need to install it on your PC rather than just visit a website and sign in. The downside to this is that it’s impossible (now the Google Reader is powering down) to synchronize your read items, unread items, and starred items between different machines you use RSS Owl on.
That said, RSS Owl is extremely customizable. Take a peek at their Features page to get an idea of what I’m talking about. This could come in handy if you’re one of those people that subscribes to a lot of feeds and likes to have minute control over them. If you only read your RSS feeds on one computer anyway, RSS Owl is perfect for you, especially at the low, low price of free.
4. The Old Reader
I’ve heard of The Old Reader before, but never tried it out until now. (It’s called “The Old Reader” because it’s designed to mimic how Google Reader looked in it’s “golden age” just a few years ago.) It seems OK, but I’m still waiting to have my feed imports finish, so it’s hard to tell how TOR will hold up under full usage. I will say, though, that I really like the clean interface and sparse design.
What I don’t like is that I’m forced to log in using either my Facebook or Google account; there’s no option to create an account by hand. This might not bug some people, but I like to keep my Internet accounts as separate as possible. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a paid account yet, which is also disconcerting. After all, how are they paying for their service?
Feedly is less of a simple, “river of news” type of reader and more of a newspaper or magazine-style one, so it’s heavier on the photos and layout of the interface than other readers listed here. Also, it’s somewhat of an oddball in the sense that it forces you to install a Chrome or Firefox extension in order for it to work properly. This could get annoying if you tend to read your feeds on multiple devices.
Ultimately, I found Feedly a little too flashy for me. It seemed like it was designed more for people who browse their feeds and only read a few things rather than people like me, who at least read a little bit of everything that comes into the application. Definitely try it out though, it could be a good fit for you.
There are many more feed readers of course, but these seem to be the biggest and most widely suggested. If you have any stand-outs that you are using to replace Google Reader, let us know in the comments below!