When Google announced that it would shut down Google Reader effective July 1, it was a double-whammy for me. Not only did I use Google Reader, but I also used a desktop program, FeedDemon, that synchronized with Google Reader. Right after Google made its announcement, FeedDemon’s developer, Nick Bradbury, announced that would mean the end of FeedDemon.
I am a voracious reader of blogs and news. I read them to find blogging ideas, to keep up with my practice areas, and to keep up with my interests. I have roughly 500 sources I follow on a regular basis. To get through them all, I’ve relied heavily on the combined features of Google Reader and FeedDemon.
If you are not familiar with either of these products, they are both RSS readers. RSS — which is generally said to stand for Really Simple Syndication — is a way of having new blog posts and news items delivered to you. That way, you don’t have to navigate from blog to blog and site to site to see what is new. Virtually all blogs and news sites have RSS feeds.
An RSS reader such as Google Reader lets you add any blogs or news sources you want to follow and read their updates. You can organize feeds into folders and add tags and stars to individual posts you want to follow-up on.
I had long ago come to rely on FeedDemon as my primary news reader. It has a number of features that are helpful to a power user, including the ability to read items when offline. What I most liked about it, however, was how easily it allowed me to scan updates and then move through new items with just a tap on my keyboard. Given all the sources I try to follow, the ability to move through items quickly is paramount.
I also liked that it let me save items to clippings folders, so I could set up folders for my various blogs and interests and come back to them later. (The latest version of FeedDemon no longer has this feature.)
Although FeedDemon is a desktop application, it synchronizes seamlessly with Google Reader. Thus, I could use Google Reader on my iPhone or tablet and when I would return to FeedDemon on my laptop, the items I had viewed would be marked as read, any feeds I had added or deleted would be updated accordingly, and any items I had starred in Google Reader would be starred in FeedDemon.
Thus, the demise of Google Reader and the concomitant demise of FeedDemon sent me scrambling.
Within days, I had a reprieve. Soon after announcing that he would shut down FeedDemon, Nick Bradbury changed course and said that he had been so overwhelmed by user response that he would release a new version of FeedDemon that no longer synchronized with Google Reader. He said he would do it sometime before July 1, that it would have all the features of FeedDemon’s pro version, and that it would be free, but that it would be the software’s last version ever.
So far, that update has not arrived.
My New Reader of Choice: Feedly
At first I was thrilled to read that. However, without Google Reader synchronization, FeedDemon would require that I use it only on my computer. That would not work for me. As I noted above, I also need to be able to read feeds on my phone and tablet.
After experimenting with some of the other RSS readers out there, I think I’ve finally found a new platform to feed my RSS addiction — Feedly. Apparently I am not alone. Feedly’s website says that more than 3 million Google Reader users have made the same switch. (It knows this because it allows you to synchronize with and import your feeds from Google Reader.)
Some of the features that I like about Feedly are:
- Works across my devices. For my laptop, Feedly offers a Chrome extension that allows it to work seamlessly within my browser. A Firefox extension is also available. Feedly also has apps for iOS and Android so you can use it on your mobile devices. All of your activity across all of your devices is fully synchronized.
- Allows me to move quickly through items in my browser. I use Feedly’s keyboard shortcuts. (To see this, type “?” while in Feedly.) To move to the next item, I just tap j. To move to the next feed or category, I tap shift plus j. To share an item on Twitter, I type t.
- Allows me to move quickly through items on my mobile devices. Feedly has mastered the art of the swipe. Swipe to the left to move through items. Swipe up to mark a feed or category as read. Swipe the opposite way to undo a mark. Swipe from the left to see your full list of feeds.
- Multiple layouts. Icons at the top of the screen let you switch quickly between headline-only views or more graphical views.
- Easy sharing. Buttons let you quickly share items to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Evernote, Google+ or other services.
I have been using Feedly for a few weeks now and have come to like it more than Google Reader. When July 1 arrives and Google Reader disappears, it will not, after all, be the end of the world.