The curious story of RSS Reader InoReader unfolded in the most painful way possible this evening. The tool suffered a major outage a little after 6:15pm Eastern Standard Time and, as of press time, hadn’t come back up. The very capable Google Reader alternative had been gaining attention and users after the shutdown of Google’s Reader on July 1st. I decided to look at what was going on, and the prospects for this great tool.
No doubt, you’re aware of the fact that Google Reader has shut down, but what you might not know is that there are a great deal of alternatives out there. I’ve been contributing to this great list over on Github, but the number of new RSS Readers I’m finding has outstripped my ability to update that list. Also, I wanted to take it further and add more specific data about how each tool is used. So, here’s my attempt at a big list of Google Reader alternatives. If you have anything to add, please either contact me or comment at the end of this article. Check back often as I update it with more details.
Google Reader is in the news as the July 1st deadline approaches very quickly. Users are scrambling and a large number of interesting contenders are popping up with RSS Readers to fill the gap left by Google. Today, I gained access to the beta of AOL’s new RSS reader simply called AOL Reader. Based on screenshots I’ve seen, AOL’s interface looked very similar to Google Reader’s and I was hoping this tool would stack up well as a worthy replacement.
Andrew Chen writes today on his blog (or is it an essay?) about RSS and more specifically how he found the light with email subscriptions:
RSS was meant to be a different way to present content, and doesn’t have identity or interactivity baked in. One of the best aspects of email subscriptions (and Twitter) is that you can actually see who’s taken interest in your work.
What can I say to that? RSS is a syndicator of content. RSS is a standard. This is something available to anyone that wants to ask for it, and it updates automatically. The identity of the creator is built in, and you definitely know who you’re subscribing too. But, does some sort of feedback loop need to be part of RSS? No, that’s not what it’s about. That’s what the web is for.
With Google Reader’s demise now just around the corner, I’ve been actively looking for a replacement feed reader that can handle the kind of volume Google did. This is really no easy task, because most of the feed readers today exist to make the feed look pretty, not improve efficiency I’ve recently settled into TT-RSS, but have been open to finding that one RSS reader that suits my needs perfectly. Today, an invite came in for a new reader called FluxReader. While this is still in beta, and much will likely change, I wanted to get a good feel for whether this tool could be a worthy Google Reader replacement.
As you may (or may not) know, popular aggregator site Digg is working on an RSS reader tool to replace the soon-to-be-dead Google Reader. I’m following Digg’s developments with some interest, looking forward to see what they come up with. I don’t think that we have much out there for power users beyond that of Tiny Tiny RSS. Today, Digg released results from a survey they sent out to the over 17,0000 users that showed interest in what they were working on. Incredibly, 8,000 people responded to this survey (including myself) and created some very interesting data about how users think of Google Reader.
In a recent blog post about “spring cleaning” Google, rather slyly included a point that they’d be closing the RSS reading tool called Google Reader on July 1st, 2013. As you probably know from reading other articles here, I’m a big fan of the tool. In fact, it’s one of the only things I use and have running on a daily basis. When I heard the news that this was happening, I checked to see if it was April 1st (nope) and then sat stunned that Google would retire such an essential tool without alternatives. While Google isn’t offering it, I’m going to give you some alternatives to ease the sting of losing this great tool.
Google Reader users are among the most blighted (and many would say the more well-informed). Those that have stayed with the product understand the value of using RSS (Rich Site Summary) to quickly read over a large number of articles the web to keep up with the massive explosion of information. With Google Reader, those of us that are heavy web users had a tool that made us more productive. But, Google Reader was never a superstar product with Google. Losing features like social sharing and being forced into the Google+ fold made it more apparent that the product was not high priority. Those looking for other options were (for the most part) out of luck. Recently, I came across an interesting alternative called The Old Reader that has the same look and feel of the product many of us use daily.
In the very interesting space of punditry, some have been talking about what tablets need to really take off. At Signal Vs. Noise, Ryan writes:
Tablets are the best way to read, and Newsstand is the equivalent of RSS for non-geeks. Hopefully apps like The Magazine inspire somebody to make this happen.
Then, at Rumproarious, Alex Kessinger takes a different, but not contrary view that what tablets need is what amounts to a compatible version of Google Reader.
There is a huge difference between a link posted on the web and when it hits the feed; the feed drives way more traffic. It illustrates the effect of aggregators, especially when considering early blogs.
I really had to think about this. There is something not quite complete about these arguments.
On Monday July 26, 2004 I published this article on my blog. It predates Google’s current Reader product by some time. I’ve always been a fan of using RSS – writing about it a number of times before. As always, I will go back and look at my work, with annotations in red.
Information is out there in abundance. By any measure we are overloaded with information about different ideas and news items without any real structure. The Internet has simply exploded with information and ideas from people. If you go to one news site, you may see completely different news stories than you would at another – not to mention not finding what you’re looking for at either one of them. There is a way to see more information in a more personalized manner.