Thursday 14 March 2013

Goodbye Google Reader! What now?

On the 13th of March 2013 the internet received a statement:
We have just announced on the Official Google Blog that we will soon retire Google Reader (the actual date is July 1, 2013). We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too. 
There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.

To ensure a smooth transition, we’re providing a three-month sunset period so you have sufficient time to find an alternative feed-reading solution. If you want to retain your Reader data, including subscriptions, you can do so through Google Takeout.

Thank you again for using Reader as your RSS platform.

In short, bye bye Google Reader!
Now if you're like me and have collected hundreds of feeds over the past 8 years, this news would likely hurt your feelings too. The first thing you can do is to search for alternatives. 

I've done the search before the media jumped on the topic, so most of the results were familiar to me. One stood out from the rest: NewsBlur.
  • News reading: With first-class iOS, Android, and web apps, NewsBlur is an easy and organized way to read the news wherever you are.
  • Training: By using NewsBlur's training filters, you can hide stories you don't want to see and highlight the stories that interest you. Teaching NewsBlur your preferences (or lack thereof) for certain blogs, authors, and topics cuts down on the noise and connects you with the news that interests you most.
  • Social: Sharing and talking about the news is not only fun, but allows you to break out of your routine and embrace the serendipity of your friends' tastes.
  • Blurblogs: Even if your friends aren't NewsBlur users, they can keep up with what you're reading through a public blog of all the stories you've shared, including your comments.
Apart from the training feature, these were the characteristics of Google Reader I fell in love with. I specially loved the social bit while they had it on, as I've discovered many feeds browsing my peers' subscriptions. It was a good feeling to share something with the one's following me. It wasn't like sharing on social sites. This share was to a thin slice of my social network. A slice of people who were interested in what I read. After all this trip down memory lane, I've decided to give NewsBlur a spin. 
Stats at 00.07 14/03/2013 GMT

Not surprisingly, by the time I got to this option, many thousand fellow feed consumers did too, bringing the surprised NewsBlur to its knees. Fortunately the maintainer issued a tweet directing us to the another domain where the service was up for a bit longer.

I was relieved that an "import from google reader" option popped onto the middle of my screen, making the switch a no-brainer. I did have to fiddle around with the access token's callback url due to using the development version, but since I'm a dev too, I was happy to be able to use the service in such unexpected conditions. After a few minutes I got the whole thing set up, and having played with it for an hour I've arrived to the following conclusion: 

NewsBlur acts as a perfect substitute to Google Reader. It even has the social elements of the pre G+ version. Up to 64 feeds the usage is free. Above that limit a perfectly affordable annual subscription scheme is available. I've happily signed up for it. Oh, and it's open source, so you can install it on your own cloud. Check it out on github at: 

Stats 07.36 14/032103GMT

update 1 (07.37 14/03): New stats
update 2 (10.23 14/03): Video

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