With Google Reader doomsday fast approaching, it's time to face reality and pick an RSS feed replacement. Come July 1 — that's a next Monday! — the beloved Reader will no longer exist, which gives addicts two options: Give up that method of news consumption and face whatever terrible withdrawal symptoms or pick one of the many replacements out there and adapt. Lucky for all you news junkies (ie. bloggers), plenty of other options exist and even more have popped up since the death of GReader was first announced. We know the fear of settling for second-best makes the whole transition a lot more difficult, so we went ahead and did all the research for you. Here are our picks:
For the Masses
Feedly: Feedly attempts to make RSS accessible to all sorts of people. It has a lot of the Google Reader features for the "power masses," but the picture-centric tiled format tones down the information overload that comes with RSS subscription. Like all the Reader replacements below it's incredibly easy to import your subscription lists by exporting it as an OPML file. (It's easier than it sounds.)
Pros: It can look just like Google Reader but doesn't have to. Some die hards will go for the standard list look, which takes a little tweaking to change from the default:
But, sometimes change is good and the tiled magazine layout, which comes in various formats, presents information in a less overwhelming way:
Also, for those of us who let our Readers go over the years, it has a lovely "organization" tool. It also has the standard social network buttons, for those who want to share what they've read through Twitter or Facebook and it has tagging.
Cons: If you just want a straight-up Reader replacement it takes a little settings tweaking to get it just right. There is also no search function — but to be fair not a single one of the Reader replacements out there has this.
For the Power User
Digg Reader: "Our focus is purely on hyper crazy power users," Digg General Manager Jake Levine told The Atlantic Wire. And it shows in the product, which looks like a better designed version of Google Reader for people who loves Reader for its stodgy old self and want nothing more. "This isn't about making RSS more accessible to a new group of people," he added.
Pros: It looks great and matches the Digg homepage.
It has some nice sharing and saving features, like the Digg and Save for Later buttons, which put your picks in separate folders. But really, the best thing about this is the design. It looks like a cleaned up version of Google Reader with incredibly easy-to-use settings. Up top you can change the view from lists to expanded, for example. Also, Levine promises it works "lightning fast." If you're a power user — like a blogger or something — this was built for you.
Cons: It's a brand new product, which means bugs. While testing it we hit a few snags. Though, Levine assures the product will be at 100 percent when it launches next Wednesday. If you're looking for any of Old Reader's social features or other bells and whistles you won't find them here. Levine says they're working on search, but he has no timeline and that it could be a "premium" — ie. cost money — feature.
For the Mobile News Junkies
FlipBoard: Pretty much all the Reader replacements out there have companion apps. But, if you get all of your news on your phone, you might want to consider FlipBoard as a solution.
Pros: Because it's from FlipBoard, king of mobile news it looks great and works great. And, if you're already a FlipBoard user it integrates right into the regular news reading app experience, which is awesome.
Cons: It's mobile only, so if you want to do any Readering while not on your phone you'll have to get another solution anyway. It's a pretty basic version of what Google used to do, so for those looking for any innovation beyond the usual share to social networks features, they won't find it here.
For the Rich People
Pros: It has a great community, as evidenced by Price's evangelism. Also of note is the Intelligence Trainer, which attempts to learn the types of stuff that you might want to read. It also has tagging, which a lot of the newer readers haven't integrated into their services yet.
Cons: It costs money to add more than 64 feeds. For context, I have over 300 feeds. At $24 a year, Newsblur doesn't ask much to provide a service we should want to pay for. But, still: Why pay when there are other great free versions out there? That said, Premium users get some perks, like the feeds populate ten times more often. For people that don't pay, though, it kind of stinks. The service lags, giving a "fetching stories" progress bar of death and when it does load you can't see the entire folder's contents at one time, which is kind of the point of Reader for some people.
Finally, it's kind of ugly and cluttered:
For the Die-Hard Google Fan Who Misses Old, Old Reader
The Old Reader: As the name indicates this RSS service was built as an homage to Google, back when Reader had its social settings.
Pros: The interface looks about as much like Google's as it can without copying it completely. Although Digg has a cleaner look, some die-hard Reader Bros might prefer the look. But, most importantly, this service has all the social features that Google Reader used to have. For example, you can add a note to a post for other people to see when you share a post:
Cons: The service lags a bit, but not as much as Newsblur. It also doesn't care to do anything other than what the Old Reader used to do. If you stuck with Google Reader back when it dropped all its old social settings, you probably aren't missing them that much. "I don't care about that anymore," one Reader power user told me. "The greatest social network ever (orig gReader) is dead and never coming back."
If none of these sounds great, there are some other options out there like Taptu, another mobile only solution, or AOL Reader, which just launched a Beta option, slowly rolling out to users. The techies who have seen it say it's fast and good looking, but doesn't have search and organizes feeds in a weird way. Or, you could just give it all up for a Google+ account, if you're into that.