Saturday, March 16, 2013

Google Reader Alternatives — Just Hold Tight for Now

Eyes, look your last!
 Arms, take your last embrace! and lips, O you
 The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
 A dateless bargain to engrossing death.
— Romeo and Juliet, Act V, scene 3, line 112.

      Arrgh!  They killed Google Reader!  If you are not as big a geek as I, you may not have heard Google is axing its RSS feed service called “Google Reader” in July of this year.  OK, I admit quoting Shakespeare is a bit overly dramatic in this case, but for news junkies like me, this comes as a huge blow.

     What Google Reader allowed you to do is aggregate RSS feeds, i.e., gather in one place, things you wanted to read.  So, I was able to have a category called “Church,” which included the Episcopal News Service, blogs of favorite religious writers, and postings of places like Harvard Divinity in one place.  Under my “News” header, I could look at local news from our one, sad little newspaper plus a local TV station, or switch to national news where I had stories pulled from the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, the New York Times, Atlantic, and Vanity Fair.  Without flipping from one website to another, all of my favorite publications were gathered in one place.  I could scan multiple sources, only pausing to read what interested me.  It kept me well-informed, and was entertaining.  Now, I and many others have to find a good replacement… I haven’t found one.

     The minute I signed in yesterday and saw Google’s calloused announcement that it was terminating Google Reader, I sprang into action looking for an alternative.  The two parameters for my replacement:  I want to be able to read articles on my PC and on my Android Phone.  Although there are a number of Android stand-alone apps for RSS feeds, I don’t like reading everything on my smartphone.  If you’re an Apple person, you can stop reading now since there are dedicated Apple readers out there I didn’t bother to look at.  If, however, you like me are a PC user, read on.

     Wanting this settled quickly, I rashly told my friends I thought NetVibes would be a good replacement for Google Reader.  I'm now publicly withdrawing my endorsement of Netvibes as an alternative to Google Reader.  It works well enough on your PC, but the web-based Android interface is so slow it's unusable.  Maybe it will come out with an Android app in the next three months and I’ll reconsider.

     So, I did some searching, and the reality is there are no good alternatives out there if you use Internet Explorer and want something that works well on an Android phone.  For what it's worth, here is my summary of the other RSS aggregators I've tried in the last two days, and my dealbreakers for each: 
  • Pulse: Useless — Controlled from Android app; you can't import on the web or your PC; ten feeds fills up a category; I have more than that under almost every subject.
  • Feedly: Only works on your PC if you want to switch to Firefox or Chrome; probably a good service, but the work of changing over browsers is crazy-making.  If, however, you’re already on Firefox or Chrome, you might consider it.
  • Taptu: Only allows up to 100 feeds from Google Reader.
  • Fever: Apple only; $30 for service.
  • Newsblur: Only 12 feeds allowed, then you pay (Only 12 feeds? Really?!)
  • The Old Reader: Supposedly like Google Reader, but no Android app.  Sign up and import is easy, but then the message appears: "There are 32460 users in the import queue ahead of you."  It's been about a half hour, and there are still 32,444 ahead of me... this does not bode well.
      So, what to do?  It’s only been two days.  A number of companies are gearing up to replace Google Reader, and I'm just going to sit tight and see what surfaces.  We have about three months to switch.  Keep your eyes open, and I suspect something better than what’s currently out there will be developed.  I shall keep all of my fellow geeks updated.

     You’ll excuse me, now.  I feel another bout of drama kicking in…

Death lies on Google Reader, like an untimely frost
 Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.  
— Adapted from Romeo and Juliet, Act IV, scene 5, line 28.


  1. Yeah, I'm holding tight too. I'm sure there's going to be some people to step into the breach. But in the meantime, Hitler is having a hissy fit. And for once I'm with Hitler:

    1. I'm with you. I think there will be plenty of offers within the month; maybe NetView will bestir itself to come up with an Android app so I won't have to reload my feeds. Who knows? Until then, everyone should at least use Google Reader's option to download their feeds so you don't have to enter them one at a time when you find a new home.

      LOVE the Hitler video. A bit risque, but I laughed myself silly.

  2. And 5 hours later on "The Old Reader": "There are 32207 users in the import queue ahead of you." :::deep, heavy sigh:::

  3. It's now Monday morning, and the message on The Old Reader is "There are 30628 users in the import queue ahead of you." This isn't looking good.


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