Since Google announced that it was closing Reader, its news aggregator service, we’ve received several questions at Deemable Tech ranging from "How do I live without it?" to "What the heck is it, and why is everyone freaking out?"
For folks in the latter category, Google Reader is the equivalent of a friendly butler that finds all of the news that you are interested in reading from the news sources and blogs you trust. Instead of having to open ten (or one hundred) different websites every day, you could open just one page whenever you wanted. It automatically gathered all of the stories that have been published by the ten (or one hundred) websites you follow since the last time you opened the page.
Now that you are probably just as upset as we are that Google Reader is closing, let me tell you the good news. There is hope. Other companies are stepping up to fill in the gap that Google Reader is leaving behind. Some of them work exactly the same as Google Reader does; others take what Google Reader does and improves upon it. Tom and I have spent the last two weeks testing and playing with the alternatives that are available. Here's the full list and break down of each Google Reader alternative. We can make it through this. Stay strong.
If you're looking for something that looks exactly like Google Reader did a few years ago, look no further. The Old Reader was created out of frustration with earlier changes to Google Reader. Unfortunately, it does not have a mobile web interface or mobile apps. Also, due to their indy nature, it has been being crushed under the weight of everyone rushing to its service. The long term success of the service will depend on the community supporting it.
If you're looking for a Google Reader replacement that is lightening fast and can handle lots of feeds, NewsBlur is a great option. The web interface is smart and sleek. Unfortunately, the free version only allows you to follow 64 websites and read 10 articles at a time. If you want the premium version, you'll be forking out $24 a year which is pricy, but certainly not the worst we found.
Pulse is probably your prettiest option. Pulse takes your news and dices it up into picture tiles that you can stroll around and browse through like a digital magazine. The downside is that it is very difficult to mark articles as read unless they are actually opened. The user interface is fun for a few articles, but if you're trying to read and process several dozen or hundred articles, it gets old pretty fast.
Netvibes has recieved good marks from other reviewers, but honestly, just getting past the welcome screen required too many synapses to process all of the industry jargon just to find the service. Netvibes is excellent for business owners and marketing executives that want to monitor social media and news sites for information and trends about their company or organization. However, the individual user version is free, the site is focused on selling the premium version, which starts at $499 a month for individuals. The team price is only available by quote. (No, that was not a typo. That's four-hundred ninety-nine dollars a month.) Netvibes has incredible tracking and analytics, but for the average user, the site is overkill.
Feedly is by far the crowd favorite. Although the service it is not avaible through a web interface, which is this writer's personal preference, Feedly has excellent browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Although Feedly works quite differently than Google Reader, Feedly has setup a welcome page for Google Reader refuges with a simple guide to moving in to your new home at Feedly.
Digg, the social news reader best known for its recent resurgance from death at the hands of copycat sites like Delicious, Reddit, and StumbleUpon, have decided to step into the fray and build a Google Reader replacement. According to their blog, they had been working on an alternative to Google Reader before the announcement, but decided to increase its priority when Google announced they were going to ax Reader. Digg hopes to have the service ready by June 1. No information is available about what features it will have or what platforms it will be available on, but Digg is soliciting user feedback during the development process.