If you’re anything like me you probably spent the weekend scrambling around in a last minute rush for a new RSS reader after having met the now ancient news that Google Reader will be getting shut down with complete and total denial. Or rather, with a glimmer of vain hope that the Almighty G would take notice of one of the many Save Google Reader campaigns kicking around and reverse their decision to kill off my most beloved of tools. Still, Google has proven to be the heartless bastards that they are by meeting these sympathetic pleas of mercy with a stony silence and a sharpening of their executor’s axe. I mean honestly, who couldn’t resist Grumpy Cat? They’re not human, I tell ya.
Anyway, like the grown man that I am and with two days to go before Reader abolishment, I eventually overcome my desire to throw a gargantuan tantrum and started to look around for alternatives. All in all, I found the options somewhat lacking. Yes, there are some other great RSS readers out there. Yes, some of them are very slick and very fancy. And yes, they do the job just fine and I should stop being such a fanny and get on with it. But no matter how good they are, they all still have a single, huge, unforgivable problem in common: they aren’t Google Reader.
Thing is, I’m a content nerd. I have (had) two Reader accounts each with about 100-150 subscriptions in them and I scan, digest and burn through them each daily like some kind of amazing machine. And to do that I need efficiency, simplicity, speed and as few distractions as possible. I also need a single point of access that will work across all my devices, especially my smart phone.
Now, whilst there are plenty of gorgeous tools out there that try to turn reading RSS feeds into an interactive magazine experience (I’m looking at you Flipboard), they seem to struggle with just presenting content efficiently and succinctly. Of course, as beautiful as something like Flipboard is, it’s certainly more for lounging on your couch on a Sunday afternoon and lazily flipping through your favourite feeds whilst drinking a homemade-organic-soya-mocha-frappicino than it is for scanning through 200 articles on the bus on your phone every morning.
After checking out several alternatives (Flipboard, FeeddlerPro, Reeder, Netvibes, Press, Old Reader), I eventually settled on using Feedly and Digg Reader. They’re both great services and I take my hat off to the developers for creating something as slick as they have but, unfortunately, I personally still find them slightly lacking. Call me fussy but neither quite suite my insanely narrow and particular brief.
Feedly is a lovely tool but it isn’t a responsive web site, meaning I have run apps on my iPhone and iPad to use it as opposed to just firing it up my browser like I do on my desktop. I don’t understand this. Likewise, the apps are a little slow, crash occasionally and still try to encourage this flip-through-article style of browsing content which I find disagreeable (seriously, give me the content, not the fluff). That said though, the customisation options are very nice and after a bit of fiddling you can approximate a pretty good Google Reader substitue.
Digg Reader is similar to Feedly in many ways although it seems more streamlined which is a positive in my book. It’s also partially responsive meaning you can interact with it nicely on your iPad browser although they have yet to provide any browser support for mobiles (it’s coming soon, apparently). There is an app as well though but the iPhone version requires iOS 6 which I haven’t upgraded too yet (still hanging onto to native Google Maps support). I guess I’ll need to do that soon.
So I’m still struggling. Maybe I’m too hung up on Google Reader, maybe I’m having a problem adjusting to the shock of new interfaces, or maybe I’m just becoming an old fossil who refuses to give up what he’s grown familiar with. Regardless, the death of Google Reader is hitting me hard (it’s still not down yet, maybe they changed their minds…) and caused me to fundamentally change the way I peruse a huge amount of content. Right now, that’s a tough adjustment but perhaps Google are right and RSS is indeed an old-fashion, redundant technique that’s only used by content nerds and web geeks. I guess time will tell.
Anyway, I’m going to go update my iPhone and wipe Google Maps off it just to spite the buggers.
What about you? Have you found a Google Reader alternative yet?