Google Reader Alternatives?

There were a bunch of changes to Google Reader, which in my opinion left it a worse product overall.

They removed features I used, like the ability to share items to an RSS feed, which I used to use to build the “Posts From Other Blogs” list that was in my side-bar until today.  They also killed off the statistics for individual feeds.  (Or hid them very well, as I cannot find them.)

Of course, they did add features… but only if you use Google+.

But Google+ is still a “real names only” club.  Pseudonyms are not allowed there, so that pretty much leaves me out.  They might change the pseudonym thing at some distant future date, but currently the real name purists at Google hold sway.

When I was griping about Google+ not being integrated into the rest of the Google functions, I thought maybe they would make Google+ play nice with other functions, not break old functionality to integrate with Google+.  Such is life at Google.

Anyway, the updated interface annoys me.  A “fresh design” apparently means “Lots of white space like Google+,” a design philosophy that seems to rank functionality second.  It isn’t so bad that I won’t get used to the font or the fact that it displays fewer items per page due to a layout that is really unpleasing to my eye.

But it annoys me enough that I want to explore alternatives for online RSS feed readers, and all the more so since the Google Reader team’s response to criticism seems to be, “Don’t like it? You’re free to take your data and fuck off.”

So what options are out there that compete with Google Reader?

MBP sent me over to look at NetVibes, which would also take a bit of getting used to.  I have nearly 200 feeds I watch.

Jason Scott, who was hopping mad over the changes at Google Reader, jumped onto NewsBlur.

Bloglines also looks like it might have potential… or is it just NetVibes with a different color scheme?

Addendum: I have seen a spike in views from Feedly, another web based RSS reader.  Any feedback on that?

Who else uses something other than Google Reader?

31 thoughts on “Google Reader Alternatives?

  1. scotth

    I am not digging the new google reader either. The design just doesn’t work for me; it is not as obvious which feeds have unread items. Plus the whole thing just seems bright.

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  2. vanhemlock

    Add me to the Google Minus club!

    Currently trying out Mozilla Thunderbird instead, being a long time Firefox person anyway. It’s not web-based, but seems to do what I used Google Reader for anyway; basic trawling for updated blogs. Then again, I was never much into the sharing side of RSS, so don’t know if Thunderbird is any good for that.

    Also, every time I type Thunderbird, I get the theme tune from the Gerry Anderson puppet show of the same name going through my head, which is an unexpected bonus!

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @VanHemlock – Yes, with Thunderbird it is either the puppet show or the cheap, fortified wine favored by the more transient members of the population that comes to mind right away.

    Only after I clear those two do I get to Ford vehicles or various collectability or the imagery of the American southwest.

    Anyway, I really like the portability of Google Reader, being able to log on to any computer and see my feeds. I was happy enough with Feed Reader, except for the fact that I had to be sitting at home in front of my computer to use it. Might just go back to that.

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  4. UFTimmy

    Put me in the club that doesn’t like the changes. I use it for its core function, reading blogs, so I didn’t notice any features missing, but the new design is very hard to read for me.

    I use Reader from at least four devices, work computer, phone, tablet, and home computer, so I definitely want an online service as opposed to Thunderbird (which I already use for e-mail). I’ll check out the links you provided.

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  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    By the way, I am also calling shenanigans on the claim that the updated Google Reader is any faster than the old one. It seems noticeably slower than before to load up and display a given feed.

    And reliably marking something as read… fail.

    Google, by the way, does not believe in QA, and it shows.

    Addendum: The Google Reader “something is broken” forums are lit up with complaints. Go figure.

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  6. David (@drmagnificent)

    Click on the feed to display it, then at the top click feed settings, feed statistics is one of the options located in there. And I still have an options for trends on my left sidebar.

    I don’t get the new color scheme at all. Overall total meh.

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  7. bhagpuss

    On first sight I’m not keen on the new Google Reader either, but I don’t have particularly strong feelings either way. It’s definitely slower and jumpier. I wouldn’t take the trouble to find another reader, especially not on a first reaction. I’m more worried about the upcoming Freeport revamp based on today’s terrifying deja-vu interview!

    I’m still on Google+ as Bhagpuss. Maybe they think I’m the puppet cat and I’ve spelled my name wrong. Since I haven’t used it since the second day I joined it’s a moot point anyway.

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  8. spinks

    I’m not keen on the Google Reader changes, but can’t be arsed to move all my feeds anywhere else, so will stick with it and whine a lot.

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  9. Zelmaru

    OK this drives me batty. I can live with the new look. Really. But right now I have all my blogrolls on my blog (multiple ones, divided by category) based on my google feed reader folders. Which made blogroll updating incredibly easy. Add or subtract blog from reader folder, blog would add or subtract from my sidebar. MAGIC.

    Now, you can’t do that. Nope. You have to create a BUNDLE based on your folder. So now, when I take something out of the folder, I also have to ALSO remove it from the bundle. Pain? You bet. It’s almost as bad as just inputting links on the wordpress default back end.

    Also, you used to be able to create “clips” for your blogroll. That was a list of the last 5 or 10 articles posted to your blogroll with the name of the article and blog (Kinda like what blogspot has in its native sidebar). Now? NOPE. Their new “clip” for bundles is actually the former “blogroll” option.

    Previously I made some folders public and kept some folders private. Now there is no option to make a folder public or private in the back end. My public folders are still available. Are my private ones? Who knows?

    I’m extremely irate because it’s not JUST the stupid look of it (which is stupid) but the functionality for me as a blogger. The result will be that my blogroll is not updated regularly and becomes MUCH shorter so I can maintain it easily.

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  10. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Zelmaru – Ouch. I have seen a number of posts about people using the Google Reader sharing capability for creative applications. Now it is gone. Hate that.

    Probably no big surprise, but the #1 search engine term bringing people here today is “google reader alternatives.” And the search engine doing it is Google. Situational something or other.

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  11. andrey

    for me feedly.com pretty much substitutes old google reader. Athough it has some minor flaws, which will soon be fixed I hope.

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  12. Jennifer

    I’d love to find a GOOD Google Reader alternative. I’m in the same boat as this author – I used Google Reader to compile a list and now I don’t have that functionality. I have to be able to access it online since I regularly use other computers, my tablet, and my smartphone and don’t want to maintain multiple apps on multiple devices. I’m looking forward to seeing what others’ find as viable solutions!

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  13. flosch

    I just stumbled across “tiny tiny RSS” (http://tt-rss.org), which looks promising. It’s probably not for everybody: you need access to a web server, and the install looks a bit… “manual”. But it will allow you to read stuff from everywhere (they have a mobile theme too). Not sure how much sharing there is integrated.

    I’ll install it and make a note in my calendar. I’ll give an update in a week or so when I had some time to test it.

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  14. Maarkean

    I really liked Bloglines, until it shut down. Then I switched to Google Reader and much preferred it. I also am not a fan of the new format but it’s not to bad. Just to much white.

    Though, I hear Bloglines came back.

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  15. mbp

    A couple of other comments for those thinking of trying out netvibes.It offers two views a “reader view” which is standard chronological list of posts and also a “widget” view which gives you a box for each feed. I like widget view although you can only fit a limited number of feeds on a page but you can have multiple tabs so it helps organise your reading. They have a pretty cool mobile version too which speeds up reading from a phone.

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  16. Snick

    the new reader isn’t bothering me that much, but I can’t ever imagine trying to keep up with 200 feeds on any feedreader!

    Also, G+ rescinded the ‘positive identity’ requirement quietly about 2 weeks ago, so you can create a Wilhelm Arcturus account if you feel so inclined.

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  17. zelmaru

    Unfortunately, the ability to use pseudonyms on google+ does not resolve the now-crappy functionality for adding blogrolls/clips to a website. =/

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  18. brdweb

    The only feature of google reader is to sync with the Reeder app across my two computers, iPad and iPhone. So for me all of these changes don’t mean a thing luckily. Back in the day the first rss service I used was Bloglines.

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  19. Bel Amar

    I was using google reader for a while but went to Newsblur. I love the concept of filtering etc that Newsblur allows me to do, but ultimately, I ended up coming back to google reader simply because it supports the best 3rd party apps. I really only use it to sync my various devices.

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  20. Pewter

    I have the same issues as Zelmaru

    1) Want ‘folders’ of feeds that I can share dynamically as a list of blogs or as latest posts without updating something twice.

    2) Need it to sync with my android

    3) Want to be able to share to a public feed of ‘curated’ links (such as my recommended widget on mentalshaman.com)

    I’m trying out newsblur and I was impressed enough with the intelligent tagging (waaaay ahead of greaders use and implementation thereof) to pay for a premium account to help support the indie developer. I may not end up using it permanently, but it never hurts to support alternatives.

    The actual new interface is okay, if a tad white. And I’ve figured out you can share via tags, although that doesn’t solve the issue of the disconnect between new shared item and old ones, or having to update bundles separately to folders.

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  21. David Goemans

    Feedly is a web/mobile reader that uses Google Reader underneath. It also has share to . The reason you’re getting a spike in Feedly traffic is for the same reason i’m here. Something featured your blog and it ended up in Feedly’s “Tech” section, an auto generated section of Tech related feeds inside Feedly.

    I’ve actually now totally switched from Google Reader to Feedly. I’d been using the Feedly mobile apps for a while, but with the new Reader web interface, i figured it was worth stepping over.

    Good post btw!

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  22. Maurits

    I use Feedly on a dailey basis in combination with Google Reader. Google Reader is the place where I store my feeds and use Feedly (for Android and the Firefox/Chrome plugins) to read and manage my feeds. It’s pretty handy and worth trying,

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  23. @chrisco

    They killed Reader. I used it to save and categorize items of interest to me. Any suggested alternatives? Not so much for feed reading, but for saving to a feed and categorizing (tagging). Thks.

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  24. Stéphane Lerouge

    I used to read RSS on Netvibes for a while but since I’d tried Feedly I don’t want to get back. It’s clear and comfortable to read.
    However severals things could be done like fixing login failures that happen too often. And buttons would be better to “hide”, “minimize”, “preview” & “visit site” functions.
    Love Feedly.

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  25. DM Osbon

    I post about the Google Reader changes also and have tried to get along with the new design but I hate it. I’m taking a look at bloglines for now & will do a follow up post soon.

    Have you made a change yet, Wilhelm?

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  26. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @DMO – So far this whole reader change has generated a bunch of annoyance but no good alternatives. I’ve made accounts at all of the services I linked to in the post, but none has grabbed me so far.

    And while I am pissed about them killing the sharing feature, it is the general usability that really gets me worked up. Something about the new layout colors, font, and what not gives me a headache.

    I used to relish a full load of feed updates every morning. Now I have started unsubscribing from feeds that post too much because I find it a pain to keep up.

    At least they fixed the horrible performance issues that were present initially.

    I might just go back to stand-alone Feed Reader.

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  27. DM Osbon

    If you have a Mac then Feed Reeder syncs with your google reader account & it looks far better. It lacks the stats that Google Reader presents though & does cost £7.

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