Remember Google Wave? What about GOOG-411? Aardvark? These were all pretty hyped in their day and were eventually phased out by the big G. Their loss went largely unnoticed; these were fringe services that simply weren’t that useful.
This isn’t the case with Google Reader. The internet cognoscenti’s response to its shut-down announcement has been incredible — not since that one cat meme have so many twitter characters been devoted to a single cause. Yet the fact remains: as of July 1st, the longstanding browser-based RSS compiler with a social streak will be shuttered, and those of us who consume Web content like woodchippers will be tossed into the raw information firehose that is the Internet. Luckily, a host of opportunistic companies have scrambled to make Reader alternatives. Long-standing competitors to Reader have bolstered their their offerings, too.
So which life boat should you swim to? Gather, ye huddled masses of Internet refugees. We’ve come up with the best alternatives to Google Reader ready to take you in.
The Prince Charles: To many, Feedly looks like the heir apparent to the RSS throne, and it’s not hard to see why. The web-based RSS reader has partnered a clean user interface with tons of customization options and deep integration into iOS and Android to create an app that’s powerful and pleasant to use. Combined with easy syncing, it’s a powerhouse that thousands have already made the move to.
The 80s Movie Montage Hero: Like Daniel San preparing to fight the Cobra Kai, the popular social news website saw Google Reader’s cancellation and quickly scrambled to create an alternative product in a mere 3 months. During what must have been a hellish period to work in Digg’s web development department, they company came up with a simplified and minimal version of Reader that lacks the depth of features and user interface options seen in other web readers like Feedly but keeps the simplicity and ease of use that Google Reader was famous for.
Export Your Google Feeds
Still haven’t decided on a Reader alternative? In the meantime make sure that you have a list of all your RSS subscriptions in one place so you don’t have to start from scratch. To do it go to Google Takeout and download your data. The XML file generated holds all of your info and can be imported into almost any RSS reader.
The Enterprising Elder: AOL’s been around since the beginning of time as far as the internet is concerned, and they’re sure as hell not going to sit back and watch others capitalize on the void left by Google. Though AOL Reader is still in an invite-only beta (expected to open up soon) it looks like a promising alternative. Any notion of AOL’s old-timeyness is dispelled once you see the user interface; clean lines and a simple, customizable layout will attract those who want the polish of Feedly and the simplicity of Digg Reader. Let’s hope they don’t add “You’ve got feeds”.
The Puppy: NewsBlur is another multi-platform RSS service that’s only now able to come out from under Google Reader’s shadow. Like an 8-week-old puppy, NewsBlur will take some getting used to. The interface is more complicated thanks to features aimed at power-users, but once you’ve spent some time learning it, NewsBlur is an information addict’s new best friend. Unfortunately, like a 4-legged friend, NewsBlur will cost a bit ($24/year) to really get the most out of.
The Rocky Balboa: Reeder has long been a popular app that syncs with Google Reader to deliver your content to a native app on either iOS or your Mac desktop. Its crisp, intuitive look has been copied by many and is certainly part of the inspiration for the refreshed interfaces of the competition above. They were hit with an Apollo Creed-style uppercut when Google made their announcement, but have since stood back up and pledged to adapt all of their apps to support raw RSS feeds as well as supporting Feedbin. A lack of a web-based solution is still its primary weakness, though.