We are now TWO days away from the end of Google Reader, hitherto the world’s most popular RSS feed reader. If you’re one of the millions of users who relies on the product to access website headlines without having to actually visit the site, then come Monday you’re going to be one lost bunny. UNLESS, you make a switch now, export and import your feeds into another reader and carry on as if nothing has happened.
Here’s our list of five of the best alternatives we could find for you to look at over the weekend.
Sismics Reader is a free program that works with Windows, MacOS and Linux and offers a beautifully simple interface to your favorite website RSS feeds. The program is fully open source, comes with a one button Google Reader import function so you can move all your feeds across instantly, and can be accessed on mobile phones through a standard web browser interface.
The Old Reader is a deliberate attempt to recreate (or some would say preserve) the original Google Reader interface for those who could not do without it. Like all of the others on this list, the service offers an OPML import function which lets you carry across all your settings and feeds (including folders) from Google Reader with a single click. However because it’s not a downloadable software program, you don’t get the offline flexibility that you might want from other readers, although it does mean you can access your feeds from any browser anywhere.
Feedly is a very popular alternative which has spawned its own share of enthusiasts over the past years. The service offers both Android and iPhone apps at a price, and although it is currently free, there are plans at some point in the future to offer a premium service, which inevitably means that the free service will be limited in some way or another. For that reason we’re not sure we’d put it at the top of our list of choices, especially since it has it’s own look and feel which is distinct from Google’s offering.
CommaFeed is a delightfully ambitious RSS feed reader which is fully open source and again is hosted, rather than available as a downloadable software program. The Google Reader import is super efficient, and heavy users will appreciate the minimal interface and the fact that it replicates a lot of the navigation elements of the Google product. The developers are clearly hugely committed to the project judging by how far and how fast it has improved over the past few months, and it looks like offering a really solid alternative to it’s competitors.
Netvibes is our personal favorite on this list, mostly because it offers the best of all worlds. It is a web based service (with mobile formatted options where needed) which provides both a ‘river of news’ interface like most RSS readers, as well as a powerful widget interface which can be toggled on and off as desired. To make the widget motif work you basically build a tab page full of feeds which meet your criteria (so for instance you could have a tab full of sports feeds, one full of financial news feeds, one with entertainment etc), with each widget displaying constantly updated headlines in the box. This means you can access a huge amount of data with a quick scan of the eye. If you’re still undecided, you should definitely take a look at this and try importing your Google Reader feeds to see how it feels in both modes.
Whichever reader you choose, do make sure you do it quickly, or at least export your Google Reader OPML file now, so you don’t get caught out with having to start again to build your list of websites. We’re being selfish of course, because we’d hate for you to miss out on your daily Ferret fix just because you got sloppy. Know what we mean?