Google Reader is shutting down. These are the best Reader alternatives.

Posted by on Mar 13, 2013 in Blog, Geek | No Comments

Google announced today that they will be shutting down (“retiring”) Google Reader as of July 1, 2013. I’ve used Reader for years, so I’m a bit panicked to find a replacement, and fast!

Reeder suite of apps are awesome

I use the Reeder apps on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and the developer tweeted some potentially good news:

So, I’m hoping that Reeder will support syncing with another service, and I can spend some time moving everything over, and then be done with it.

(As a side note, I wonder how many people actually use Google Reader?)

Download Your Data

You can download your Google Reader data using Google Takeout.

The export includes:

  • your followers & people you’re following
  • liked items
  • item notes
  • items shared by followers
  • items shared by you
  • starred items
  • list of feed subscriptions

It’s a thorough data dump, which is nice. It’s all JSON (except for the subscriptions list, which is XML), and includes post content where applicable.

Alternative 1: NewsBlur

The demo on the NewsBlur site is great. Click the “Try out NewsBlur” link, and it just slides out from the side. Impressive–always love it when you can demo a product before filling out a sign-up form.

There’s a free account, and a $1/month premium account (so, basically free). Also, it’s open sourced which is nice to see.

Summary: My favourite option so far.

Alternative 2: Feedly (Web, iOS, Android)

Feedly has a nice design. The interface is a bit different than Google Reader by default, but it looks like they have a list view that is somewhat Reader-like.

They are prepared for the Google Reader shut down, with a project that clones the Google Reader API (Reeder app, are you listening?).

Summary: Will take a look when their site is actually up.

Alternative 3: The Old Reader

The Old Reader stands out as it has a much simpler and cleaner design than most other options.

Summary: Worth a look.

Alternative 4: Netvibes

Netvibes is apparently a feed reader, but also has a bunch of “brand monitoring” tools, and seems cater to the enterprise crowd. There’s a free “personal” account, so that might be worth checking out.

Summary: I’m a bit turned off by the enterprise feel.

Alternative 5: Fever (Self-hosted, $30 one-time fee)

Fever gives your feeds a temperature rating, which is an interesting premise. It also functions as a regular feed reader.

Fever is made by Shaun Inman, who’s made a bunch of cool games/apps, so it’s likely to at least have a good design and be usable.

Summary: Self-hosted, but not open

Make Your Own Clone?! Or not.

When a major web product shut down, it’s a great opportunity for anyone with a competing product to jump in and gain a bunch of users.

As soon as I heard that Google Reader was shutting down, I started thinking about how to take advantage of this. Being a developer, I thought about creating my own clone of Google Reader. (For anyone interested in doing RSS stuff with Ruby, the Feedzirra gem is pretty popular, and apparently fast.)

But then I researched what other options are out there, and there are a few contenders. One of them is likely to be Good Enough™. Really, at this point I’ll probably just wait to see what the Reeder developer does, and go along with that.

Closing Notes

Options that didn’t make the cut:

  • NetNewsWire – Has Mac/iPad/iPhone apps, but seems to rely on Google Reader sync. Based on Twitter account activity & messages, the app doesn’t seem to have much development activity.

It sucks that Google is shutting down Reader, but such is life. Hopefully one of the options above will be a sufficient replacement.

Most of the services above seem to be having issues with the amount of traffic fueled by the Google Reader closure. I’m sure this will only be temporary, but it prevented me from actually trying out some of the sites.