Monday, June 24, 2013

Bye Bye Google Reader, Sniff


Google Reader has been in my stable of tools as long as I can recall for aggregating stories across a variety of blogs, about 170 at the moment. If you haven't been hiding under a rock you know that Google is retiring Google Reader and as of July 1st it will no longer be available. There has been a flurry of activity since the announcement by other providers to fill the gap. A couple of weekends ago I researched and tried a number of options and have now settled on a solution that meets my needs, for the moment.

My primary requirements are the ability to quickly read feeds on my iPhone and via a web browser. I've been using Reeder on my iPhone so any solutions that Reeder supports have an advantage. Google Reader's web interface is fantastic and replicating the experience of navigating using only a keyboard ranks high as well. I want a simple list of unread articles that I can quickly navigate through. I have no desire for magazine layouts such as you find with Flipboard. I do like Flipboard but not as a RSS reader.

After a bit of research I settled on the following options to further investigate:

A number of other options didn't make my final cut and these include:

Feed Wrangler

This is one of two services that don't have a trial so I had to pay for a subscription. I have no problem paying for a service that meets my needs and paying for a solution will hopefully allow it to be long lived. The cost of this service is $19 per year so the price is right. Feed Wrangler will also refund the subscription in the first 14 days if not satisfied.

Feed Wrangler has a very simple web interface and an iPhone application. The iPhone app was nice but I found the web interface was not as easy to use as I would have expected. It just didn't have the ease of navigating through articles that I wanted. I think Feed Wrangler is still a good contender and if the web navigation is improved I may revisit it again.


Feedly is free and has proven itself to be a great option. There is an iPhone app that works pretty well though not as easy to use as Reeder. The web interface supports Google Reader's keyboard shortcuts which is a huge plus. The only problem is that the behavior of navigating through stories causes the article to be marked as read even if you didn't open the article. This has been reported as a bug so hopefully this will be fixed.

I really like this solution and it almost made the cut for me.


Feedbin is also a paid service similar to Feed Wrangler. They have a yearly and monthly subscription plan. It is $2 monthly or $20 for a year. You can cancel at anytime and I went with the monthly subscription to try things out.

Feedbin has a web interface but no iPhone application. Not an issue since Reeder now supports Feedbin as a feed source. That rocks since Reeder is a fantastic reader application. There is also a beta Android application for Feedbin. The web interface is not 100% compatible with Google Reader but it is very close. Navigating through articles is done with arrow keys rather than n/p keys as found in Google Reader. But that is not an issue since the interface in the web view doesn't have the concept of opening and closing stories. As you move through the list the story is displayed in a panel. This has been an adjustment for me but it works well and I can quickly toggle a story between read/unread using the 'm' key.

My Choice (for the moment)

The kicker for me was support from Reeder which is what swayed me to stick with Feedbin. The web interface has grown on me and I've come to grips with the differences in how it operates. I like the web interface of Feedly better but the one navigation quirk and lack of Reeder support takes it out of the running for the moment.

I recently heard that Digg is about to roll out their own solution and I plan to take a look at it when it is available. Right now I plan to stick with Feedbin unless I see something more compelling.

Regardless of which solution you move to it is critical that you save your Google Reader subscriptions before Google Reader is shut off. You can get step by step directions to do so here.