While all of us will lose thanks to Google’s inexplicable decision last week to shut down a service which seems to have been much more popular than the search giant would have you believe, one company is certainly not unhappy about the move. Feedly has been in a whirlwind since that announcement.
Within hours of the Google announcement Feedly had already posted detailed instructions on how disenfranchised users could export their RSS feeds from Reader and import them into the Feedly service.
Now the company has announced that it has received an influx of more than 500,000 new users in the first 48 hours after the Google announcement. “More than 500,000 Google Reader users have joined the feedly community over the last 48 hours. We love passionate readers. Welcome on board”.
Feedly says it has added ten times its previous bandwidth to handle the load and that new servers are being brought online to help with the new found popularity. The company also plans on adding new features weekly.
Its nice to see a company that still understands the need that many of us have for a good RSS reader and wants to support the users of it, as opposed to simply ignoring its customers as Google has shown it is willing to do. Feedly is available for iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
While GNC doesn’t get political — in fact we avoid it as if it were toxic — sometimes a subject in the political arena touches the tech world. While we have all been fixated recently on the Google Reader shutdown and what it means to us as writers about tech, who use this tool to follow the latest news, and you the readers who use it to follow us, there is larger and much more ominous part to all of this.
That part was revealed today as we learned just how detrimental this shutdown is — not just to us in our cozy homes, but to those living under the thumb of totalitarian regimes that systematically block large portions of internet traffic.
Today Zachary M Seward reports that the Google decision has been taken especially hard by the citizens of Iran who used the RSS service to get around the country-wide firewall that trapped them from outside news. “The real tragedy is likely to be felt in countries like Iran, where Google Reader is used to evade government censorship”, Seward wrote. He continues “many RSS readers, including Google’s, serve as anti-censorship tools for people living under oppressive regimes”.
In order to stop citizens from accessing Google Reader, the country would have to undertake a rather large amount of work, as it is difficult to block the entire Mountain View-based company and all of its services.
There is potential good news here — “Google also hasn’t said what it might do with the Google Feed API, which is a service for programmers to access RSS feeds, usually for display on other websites. If it sticks around, the Google Feed API would potentially allow someone to build a service that replicates some of Google Reader’s core features and still rely on Google’s domain to do it” Seward explained.
For now Google has said nothing more about its decision, despite the growing outcry and the number of people signing online petitions to stop this shutdown from happening. Perhaps the plight of the Iranian citizens can warm their cold heart.
Those of you who are lamenting the upcoming loss of Google Reader are not alone – not by far. There are a lot of people right now who are seeking an alternative to replace it (with varying degrees of success, depending upon each person’s needs). Digg has a different way of solving this problem. They are going to build a new one.
Digg announced this news on their blog, in a post titled: “We’re Building a Reader”. It turns out that they had been planning on building their own version of an RSS reader anyway. The news about the demise of Google Reader caused them to push this project to the head of the line. Their blog said:
We’ve heard people say that RSS is a thing of the past, and perhaps in its current incarnation it is, but as daily (hourly) users of Google Reader, we’re convinced that it’s a product worth saving. So we’re going to give it our best shot. We’ve been planning to build a reader in the second half of 2013, one that, like Digg, makes the Internet a more approachable and digestible place. After Google’s announcement, we’re moving the project to the top of our priority list. We’re going to build a reader, starting today.
The “bad news” is that the RSS reader that Digg is designing isn’t ready for you to use right now. It’s still being created. However, the “good news” is that they are seeking input about what, exactly, you would like to see in their RSS reader. Leave them a comment on their blog, and there is potential that they will incorporate it. The other “good news” is that when they are finished, there will be another viable alternative to Google Reader.
Those that know how I produce and get ready for my Podcast are asking me tonight what I am going to do now that Google has announced the Death of Google Reader. My first reaction was laden with swear words. The ability for me to put Geek News Central together, and be organized in 90 minutes was largely the way Google Reader feed the news to me.
A lot of folks are scrambling tonight, and frankly I don’t have the heart to start looking for a new solution yet. It’s like my dog just died
Some are saying switch to Flipboard, my reaction to that is pretty simple NOT! Great for casual usage but not for a tech geek needing to organize for a podcast/ I need something for the desktop that is lean and mean. Some are saying Feedly.com, in the initial round they are high on the contention list. They have to get themselves dis-engaged from the Google Reader API though and the time clock is ticking.
I care about RSS a great deal, it is how the podcasting community distributes podcasts. Without RSS we would be no better off than we where in 2004. Google simply hates RSS, they have never embraced it. Hell they have let Feedburner fall into a state of dis-repair, for those that where stupid enough to use it in the first place I would be scared to death. But I hope they all learn their lessons, and start controlling their own feed instead of letting some third-party man-handle it. For goodness sakes run from services like feedblitz, who in my opinion is preying on folks scared Feedburner is gonna get whacked.
So tonight, for the Google brass that killed Google Reader…… Well you know what being given the middle finger stands for don’t yea.
Image: Middle Finger by BigStock
The internet is freaking out today after hearing the news that Google has decided to kill off the extremely popular Google Reader. The reaction is understandable. Many of us rely on Google Reader as an quick way to keep up to date with the news and to easily discover when the blogs we follow have updated with new content. There are a lot of people right now who are scrambling to find a replacement for Google Reader before it disappears, forever.
Google mentioned the impending demise of Google Reader in their blog today. I’m not certain that their explanation for the reasoning behind doing away with the popular feature will be accepted by everyone. They said:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
In any case, we are all going to have to find an alternative RSS aggregator soon. As for me, I have decided to use an app called FeedWizard (which I found in the iTunes app store). FeedWizard is made by a company called Wunderkopf. It does not connect with, or require, Google Reader in order to function.
The app costs $0.99 to download, which is a nice price. It requires OS X 10.7 or later. I took a few minutes to manually load a few of the RSS feed that I had subscribed to through Google Reader into FeedWizard to make sure it worked. Everything was running smoothly, so I did as Google suggested and used Google Takeout to export my RSS subscriptions into FeedWizard. Simple!
FeedWizard does not have the ability to sync across platforms, and I realize that may be “deal breaker” for some users. Personally, though, I work from home and don’t have a need to check out the RSS feeds I’ve subscribed to unless I am sitting in front of my home computer, so this is not a problem for me.
I have tried a lot of news aggregators over the years, including Google Reader, Reeder, Shrook, NetNewsWire, NewsFire on the desktop. On iOs I have tried Zite, Pulse, Flipboard just to name a few. I keep trying new ones because I am never quite satisfied with the one I am using. One of the problems I have with most of them is they are based on sources. I have realized over time that I am interested in following ideas or concepts. Where they comes from is less important to me then the idea itself.
That is idea behind Prismatic, which is available on the desktop and now on the iPhone, (although it works fine on the iPad). When you first sign into Prismatic you are asked to connect either Facebook, Twitter or Google Reader account. It will then offer suggestions based on your interest and who you follow. Prismatic may suggest an actual site such as Lifehacker, but they may also suggest a subject such as beer or computer security. They may also suggest a person to follow. If you want to follow suggested subject you simply click on the plus sign and it is added to your home list. If you want to delete a subject from your home list just click on the X. To look at a subject you simply tap on it and it will bring up a brief summary view of that feed. You can swipe up and down the feed. When you find something you like, just tap on it and it will take you to a longer summary, tap on it again and it will take you to the original article. To go back either hit exit or the arrow. If you want to get back to your home screen from the summary screen just swipe to the left. Below the title of an article Prismatic will also suggest other topics that may interest you based on the article. Click on that interest and it will be added to your home feed. If you want to like or share an article you simply place a finger on it and then slide up to the appropriate icon. Right now sharing is limited to Facebook, Twitter and email. I am hoping they will add more options in the future.
The Prismatic UI could use a little work, it looks a little outdated and lacks the wow factor of Flipboard. I also wish I could save to Pocket and share to Google Plus. Despite this complaints, Prismatic both on the desktop and now on the iPhone offers a lot to be happy about. If you are interested in following an idea or subject rather than a source, then I recommend trying Prismatic.
I was talking to a friend early this morning about what I’d like to see in an RSS reader app. As a truck driver, I’ve got endless listening hours. I want an RSS reader app that can use text-to-speech and read articles to me in a non-stop fashion.
To my surprise, my friend told me that such an app already exists in the iTunes App Store. It’s called RSS Talk. It comes pre-populated with a variety of different mainstream RSS feeds, in addition to the ability to manually add feeds of the user’s choosing. RSS Talk sells for $1.99 and has very positive user comments. I immediately downloaded the app and gave it a try. It really does work as advertised! The female voice is very clear and natural. It does a great job of just reading the article and completely avoids reading non-article elements that most text-to-speech schemes end up reading such as formatting tags.
This is one of those rare apps that brings the best elements of hardware and software together in an easy-to-use app form. Once it is started playing there’s no need for human intervention. It makes the perfect reading companion, enabling me to listen to all of those RSS feed articles I’ve been subscribed to for years but rarely have time to actually read.
This app is a buy!
Since News.me no longer requires a subscription I decided to give it a try so I could compare it to Zite and FlipBoard . These types of news reader have become quite popular on the iPad. It similar in some ways to FlipBoard and Zite. All three of these apps present content like a magazine. All three are well made and look beautiful. You can flip easily through stories and from one story to another in each of them. However how they determine the stories that are available for you to read is one way they differ. FlipBoard provides various favorite categories from art to technology. Within each category there is a list of providers from blogs to magazines and newspapers, to add to your reading list. You can even add your own categories. You can also add Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader to your reading list. With Zite the choice when setting up is within categories and not providers. However when you read an article you can thumbs up or down a topic, provider and even an author that you like or dislike. The more you use this option the better Zite gets in learning your likes and dislikes. Finally there is News.me which takes who you follow on Twitter and if they use News.me they are added to your list, along with a list of featured users. If someone is not using News.me you can’t add them. You can remove users at anytime under the preference tab. Once you have everything set up, if you click on a person you will see all the stories they linked to on Twitter. With News.me there is no filter other than who you follow.
The second big difference between the three is their sharing and saving options. All three allow sharing to Facebook, Twitter and by email. Zite also shares with Linkedin. All three applications allow you to save articles to Instapaper. Both Zite and FlipBoard save to Read Later. Zite also saves to Evernote and Delicious.
For me News.me is the weakest of the three because of the lack of filters. Also to be honest I not big into following what other people are linking to, because I follow a lot of people who are interested in tech they tend to link to the same stories. Plus there are some people who I want to read when they link to tech stories, but I have no interest in their political links. On FlipBoard you can add people individually like I did with Robert Scoble . Zite has no option to add individuals to your feeds, but I am ok with that. As far as the UI of each application FlipBoard is the winner, it is beautifully looking, and easy to use, despite this FlipBoard is not my winner. I personally like Zite the best of the three, it has the ability to learn my likes and dislikes better than the other two. Plus I like Zite’s sharing and saving options. I am worried about it sale to CNN, I hope they don’t ruin it. What about you what is your favorite. If you are on Android what do you use.
Most mornings when I wake up I usually have over 500 post in my favorite feed reader. Clearly I am not going to read all of them so I skim through them and then save those that look interesting to Read it Later. Once I am finished skimming my feeds I then can go to Read it Later and read those articles that really interest me. I have the choice of seeing just the text or the full article. I can also adjust the font size, which I like especially at night when my eyes get tired. You can also adjust the backlight on the app for reading at night. Although I prefer the black type on white background, you do have the option of doing white text on black background.
After you have read an article you can share it out to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or Digg. If you want you can save the article to Pinboard Evernote or to Tumbler. Read it Later is available on the iPad, iPhone, Androids, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. Read it Later is accessible through various Twitter application including Twitter for iPhone and IPad, Tweetbot and Osfoora and Seesmic just to name a few. Which is great if you see a link to an article on Twitter and you want to read the article later. As far as RSS readers it works with Reeder, River of News, Feedler, along with Google Reader among many other. I personally use it with Zite and FlipBoard. It is also available as an add-on or an extension for all major browsers.
A lot of people will compare Read it Later with Instapaper. which I have also used. However I tend to use them differently. To me Read it Later is a more temporary holding place, after I read a post I may send to my various social networks or save it to Pinboard or Tumbler and then I archive it. If it is article that I think might use to write a blog post at some later time I will save it to Instapaper and put it in my Blog folder. What about you do you use Read it Later or do you prefer Istapaper or perhaps something else. I always willing to try something new to see if it has something that I am missing.
Google Reader has been the second most used app on my phone, behind only Twitter. It works well, especially since the last update which fixed a major annoyance – when going back to the feed list it no longer takes you back to the top of the list. But, recently I found an even better alternative – D7 Google Reader.
The moment you open D7 you will notice the difference. It’s less stark. The beautifully graphic interface is welcoming. It immediately feels more usable. There are friendly icons to lead you to wherever you want to begin – Reading List, Subscriptions, Starred, Shared, Recommended, and Read Items. It’s a sharp contrast to Google’s own Reader app.
D7 Google Reader
When you click on a feed you will notice another difference. You will get more than just headlines, you will see the first two lines of each article. That may not be a big deal, but it’s a nice touch.
D7 Google Reader article display
The menu button allows you to do a number of things including Share, but the Share option, unfortunately does not include email. Preferences lets you choose from a number of customization options such as changing the Theme and various ways to display subscriptions and articles. It also allows you to follow people and add subscriptions.
There are both free and paid versions of D7 Google Reader. The free version is ad-supported and the paid version retails for a whopping $1.57.