The real fallout from the news that Google is shutting down Reader isn’t the woe-filled surge of support for the product, but the fact that absolutely everyone in the universe now has an article with “Google Reader Alternatives” in the title (including me).
Some people are offering up good advice on where to go for your needs, while others are wondering why anyone cares (along the lines of the “Duh, what year is this anyway?” variety of speech). The alternatives abound, and the surge in action related to the topic (Feedly apparently gained 500,000 users in 48 hours) has even spurred some sites into a variety of flailing action – Digg has even jumped in and decided to build a reader.
And, while everyone under the sun is putting together their list, not many of them are quick to tell you that you’re really going to have to try them all out for yourselves, with the exception of a couple you can immediately avoid depending on your needs. Some people only care about web availability, so you’ve got certain options. Others don’t really care if there is a web option, as they’re only interested in whether or not there’s an App for that.
It’s great to check out the lists that people are throwing out for all these alternatives (you have to start somewhere), but what I never realized is just how much they need to all be tested. Of course, that’s not even counting the changes, and problems they’ve all had trying to keep up.
NewsBlur was at one point giving you the “news” that they were only offering premium registrations, but that seems to have already changed back, and a free option is available. In a couple of days that may change again. It’s a nice option, though not my favorite really, but it has a nice style to it, and countless people love it, and have tried to sell me on it since long before the Reader shutdown news.
The Old Reader, which a lot of people love, was having some trouble over the last few days (at least for me), but I’m sure that, like everyone else, they’ve geared up for new users now.
As I say, I’m not the guy to give you the rundown on every alternative, and that’s really the opposite of my point. You’ll find post on the five best alternatives, and the eighty-five best alternatives, I just want you to keep in mind the reality of the situation as you explore. You’re going to want to know the App and web possibilities, and what style you’re in for (and how customizable that style is). Also, don’t be too quick to dismiss those that either cost money, or have a pay option. Often the per year cost is actually very low, and if you compare spending that whole year with something that works great for you vs. something that irritates you every day… it might easily be worth it.
I’m pretty much a power user of Reader, with not one, but several Apps that take advantage (my favorite, without question, being Newsify), and take advantage of the service every day, and for more hours than I’d care to admit. Hearing that it was shutting down meant something to me, as it obviously meant something to quite a lot of people. What I didn’t realize is that, after giving about twenty options a pretty serious look, I’d find a way to do everything I was already doing that I liked better.
For a very specific set of needs/wants, I don’t think anything comes close to Feedly. If you want Apps and web (which is really a browser extension, and not my favorite theory there, so it still isn’t perfect), and like the style, especially where the iPad App is concerned, then it’s probably going to be you’re best bet. But, I can’t tell you how many lists I read that ran down options in a way that made me think something was a great option for me, and it turned out I didn’t like it at all.
Worse, or better, most of these options are likely to go through some significant changes to either help draw, or help accommodate those that switch. I hold out hope that Digg is going to make something very cool, but my guess is that by the time their timer counts down, there will be a vastly different world of options.