Google poked a serious hole in the internet experience for many users (myself included) when they announced that they would be discontinuing Google Reader this summer – and it has left people scrambling to find a suitable alternative before the July 1st Google Reader expiration date arrives. We’ve been doing our homework since reading that fateful announcement, and have come up with what we consider to be some excellent alternatives to replace Google Reader in its entirety.
There are many things to consider when looking for a Google Reader replacement. For many users, the ability to read and subscribe to RSS feeds online is extremely important. For others, a cross-platform solution that works on their desktop as well as their mobile devices is crucial. Despite the fact that Google Reader effectively pushed most other RSS solutions out of the market with their free service, there are still some compelling alternatives floating out there. I believe that the following seven solutions combine the best of all worlds.
Note: Before you start experimenting with alternative, you might want to check out our tutorial on how to export your Google Reader subscriptions for use in another service.
Top Google Reader Alternatives for Mac and iOS
Feedly has been offering their RSS reader service since 2008 – just a few years after Google Reader launched in 2005. I consider it to be the best of the 7 alternatives for a variety of reasons. First, it includes dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android, which is handy for the growing number of users that consume content mainly on their mobile devices. Another significant benefit is that Feedly is fueled by an excellent web interface, allowing you to set up your subscriptions using a browser, then access them from all your devices, much like Google Reader.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose Feedly, however, is that they have been working on a feature-complete clone of the Google Reader API which will work in their own app, as well as other popular RSS apps based around Google Reader. The following links will help you get started with Feedly in your browser of choice, as well as your iOS or Android device:
My second favorite Google Reader alternative is NewsBlur, which offers the bulk of Google Readers features, a similar interface (I actually prefer the NewsBlue web interface to Google Reader), and iOS and Android apps to use the service on your mobile device. Like Google Reader, Feedly allows you to subscribe to feeds, which it will sync between all of your devices.
To make the transition as smooth as possible, NewsBlur will allow you to create an account by simply importing your Google Reader subscriptions and creating a username and password. While NewsBlue is free, paying an annual free for premium access allows you to add more sites, and gets you a few other benefits, like more frequent updates. NewsBlur also offers a unique feature that most other services do not offer: the ability discover new feeds and filter your content. You can get started with NewsBlur with the following links:
NetNewsWire is one of the oldest RSS readers for the Mac, originating back in 2002. Rather than being powered by a cloue platform like many readers, NetNewsWire is based within your Mac. While it is able to sync with Google Reader, it does not need to be linked to Google Reader to function. NetNewsWire was acquired by Black Pixel around two years ago, and unfortunately, the iOS app has been removed for the time being. The good news, however, is that Black Pixel is working on new versions of NetNewsWire for Mac and iOS, which will be released in the near future.
Until then, while the Mac version is excellent, those of you that require iOS apps (and prefer syncing between desktop and iOS) should probably look at other options.
NetVibes is yet another great alternative to Google Reader, and has been around about as long as Feedly. Unfortunately, unlike Feedly, NetVibes doesn’t provide a simple way to import your Google Reader subscriptions by simply signing in. Instead, you’ll have to follow our instructions for exporting your Google Reader subscriptions, then importing the resulting XML file into NetVibes by uploading it through the website.
A few of NetVibes’ notable plusses are a neat iGoogle-like home page, and the ability to display your Google Reader content either traditionally, or through a series of websites on the personalized homepage. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a companion app for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
iOS Apps: Zite, Flipboard, Pulse, and Reeder
If you mostly only read news or browse articles on your iOS device, you may not need a solution that includes web access and a desktop app. There are a number of fantastic news and RSS apps for iOS, including the Magazine-like Zite, Flipboard, and Pulse, as well as the more traditional list-based Reeder app. I’ve used each of these apps, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all fantastic. It mostly boils down to a matter of taste. Each of these apps also integrates with services such as Instapaper and Pocket for bookmarking and storing articles that you want to read later.
Note: While Reeder was originally based entirely on Google Reader, it’s worth noting that the developer is hard at work coming up with a new solution to fuel the app.
The apps are all free, and available from the App Store:
Let us know if we forgot to mention your favorite iOS news app!
And Many, Many More
This is far from being a complete collection of Google Reader replacements – but I feel that these options are some of the best ones available right now. I’ve taken the time to try each of these for myself, and they all have something excellent to offer. I hope they will work for you as well as you look towards a future without Google Reader.
For the Future: Digg
Digg has announced that they are planning to launch a full Google Reader replacement in the second half of 2o13. focused on making the web “a more approachable and digestible place”. While their solution is not available yet, it may be worth keeping this one on your radar to check out when it finally launches.
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.
We hope to identify and rebuild the best of Google Reader’s features (including its API), but also advance them to fit the Internet of 2013, where networks and communities like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Hacker News offer powerful but often overwhelming signals as to what’s interesting. Don’t get us wrong: we don’t expect this to be a trivial undertaking. But we’re confident we can cook up a worthy successor.
It’s unfortunate that Google has decided to retire Reader. Google Reader was much more than just an RSS reader – it was also the top platform for syncing feeds with various desktop and mobile apps. With any luck, the death of Google Reader will spawn a new wave of innovation – and I believe we’ll end up with something a whole lot better as a result. Developers will rise to the challenge, new startups will be launched, and intense competition between competitors attempting to replace Google Reader will ultimately bring us to a brighter horizon.