It’s been 3 months since Google announced that Reader was being put out to pasture, and now July 1st is looming just around the corner. Have you found your replacement yet?
Shortly after the announcement, I wrote an article for Search Engine Journal discussing promising Reader replacements. Now, on the other end of slow Reader withdrawal, let’s see how those options are holding up.
Which RSS Reader Should You Use?
At the moment, Feedly is at the head of the pack. It was one of my favorite choices at the very beginning of my hunt for a proper replacement, and it seems that others have agreed. Across the board, Feedly is the most highly-recommended replacement in the RSS market.
This is possible because it’s the most easily-integrated RSS platform. You can export all of your old feeds from Reader for a seamless transition, and it has a plug-in for every browser except Internet Explorer.
After two months of using it, the only problem with Feedly that I’ve come across is that it can sometimes be clunky—especially on a mobile device. When I’m looking to consume a large amount of data, I don’t need an interface with any extra frills. This is something that can be seen with most other reader options.
For the sole purpose of information intake, Google Reader remains king. It was simple and clean, and though have some have cited this as a lack of innovation on Reader’s part, ultimately Reader was perfect for digesting large amounts of reading material both during downtime and on-the-go.
In fact, despite it’s impending retirement, none of the up-and-coming readers promise as much in terms of pure data consumption as Reader, which poses a big question: Why did Google get rid of Reader in the first place?
Google’s major claim has been that the resources simply weren’t there to maintain Reader, but I have a theory that Reader’s shutdown is part of a much larger play on Google’s part.
Are RSS Readers A Platform of the Past?
While resources might have been slim for Reader, the fact that it was such a popular platform makes one wonder why Google didn’t push to make it more successful. Instead, they let Google Reader die.
Could it be that Google is transitioning away from the RSS Reader format entirely? They’re switching over to Google Plus, and they want you to come with them.
Consuming social media as part of an RSS feed is not exactly new—that’s exactly what Digg is doing when it launches its own reader, the same day Reader shuts down. But to do away with readers entirely, relying solely on a social platform? When we’re looking at large-scale data consumption, is it a viable transition?
The answer is yes—if Google can pull it off. With the latest Google Plus redesign, this social platform is now much more social, making it easier to stream and share information. It could be possible to amass “feeds” of information… if you’re following the right people. And in order to make sure the right people are on Plus, Google got rid of it’s eminently popular Reader.
It could also be said that Google is simply following on the heels of a major trend in how we access information. RSS readers were designed for people to sit down and browse their collected feeds. But with the increasing number of those who use smartphones and tablets as their primary internet checkpoint, it’s more common to see people who are accessing information all day long, checking the latest news on a constant basis—which makes an integrated social media/reader platform much more probable option.
Google’s greatest currency is data, and to have both social and news in one place would elevate Google Plus’ usability and appeal, a fact I’m sure Google is extremely aware of.
What does this mean for you? Should you drop all your feeds and stick to social media? Not yet, but considering that Google is pushing Plus in every way that it can, it can only hurt you to ignore the signs.
In the meantime, Feedly will have to do. Flipboard is another great platform for reading RSS feeds on your mobile device, turning your feeds and links from your social media sites into a personalized, digital magazine. In terms of innovation, Flipboard doesn’t feel like an RSS reader—which might be the point.
Regardless of where you’re going to end up taking your feeds, you should make sure to download and export your RSS feeds from Reader before July 1st so you don’t lose any of your subscriptions!
My plan? Use Feedly for when I just want to read news. Create circles on Google Plus according to my Reader folders. Start circling/following everyone on Plus that I normally follow. There might be a few of my favorite sites that aren’t sharing on Plus—hopefully everyone will catch on soon enough. I’m going to enjoy Reader to its very last day, and then you will seem me on Google Plus—Finally. I have no doubt that Plus is the future of Google. It’s time to hop on board.