At first I almost overlooked notice that Google Reader service was shutting down this summer.
Fortunately for me a wealth of articles burst forth on the Web and the noise couldn’t be missed.
- A second spring of cleaning - Google’s Official Blog
- Google announces Reader’s imminent demise - Ars Technica
- Google Reader Is Shutting Down; Here Are the Best Alternatives - LifeHacker
- Poll Technica: Where should we go when Google Reader is put out to pasture? - Ars Technica
- Google plans to execute Reader, among other apps - BetaNews
- End of an Era: Google shutting down Reader - Justinsomnia
- The End of Google Reader - NT Blog
- Google Reader Going Away - Standalone Sysadmin
- Users rally against Google's plans to shut down Reader - BetaNews
- R.I.P Reader: Google giveth, and Google taketh away - TechBlog
- Google Reader may very well rise again… as part of Google+ - Ars Technica
- Why We Mourn Google Reader - And Why It Matters – ReadWrite
- How to export and transfer your Google Reader feeds to another RSS service on iPhone and iPad - iMore.com
- Google Reader Alternatives - Caschys Blog (GTranstated)
- Google Reader: Feedly will allow seamless transition - Caschys Blog (GTranstated)
- Digg to Build RSS reader with 'Best of Google Reader's Features' - TheNextWeb
- Best Free Google Reader Alternatives For Web, Windows & Mac - Addictive Tips
- Three Reasons why Google Reader shutting down may not be such a bad thing - freewaregenius.com
- Why Google killed off Google Reader: It was self-defense — Gigaom
- More than 500,000 Google Reader users flock to Feedly in two days - The Verge
- Five Best Google Reader Alternatives - LifeHacker
- 5 iOS news app alternatives to Google Reader — Gigaom
I’ve enjoyed reading the perspective and comments left by users of RSS and Google Reader in most all of the above articles I’ve found.
As a very recent user of Google Reader, my perspective is a bit unusual.
Very early on, I realized the power and usefulness of RSS/Atom feeds to collect, centralize, and allow rapid mass monitoring of consumption of the wealth of material on the web.
Without RSS/Atom feeds that I subscribe to, I seriously doubt I could process the 90-120 sites I go to for news, tips, and areas of interest. On any given day, they provide me between 300-400 articles to sift through. And because of RSS/Atom feeds, I can usually complete that process in about 30 minutes or less.
There is no way I could do that by checking each site directly via bookmarked web-pages. I would miss tons of updated content and probably get loose hours of my time trying to do so.
For years I have relied upon Windows RSS feed reader clients running on my system.
I had flirted back in 2008 and did a RSS Reader Roundup…Valca Style. There were lots and lots of feature-rich RSS feed reader clients for Windows back then. But I kept with reading my feeds in Firefox through the add-ons.
Eventually, however some of the peculiarities of running a RSS feed reader in your primary browser began to create issues. It would run in a background tab session, but would “lock-up” the browser as it pulled feeds down during refreshing.
So in 2012, I revisited the search for a desktop Windows RSS feed client and eventually found that Omea Reader fit the bill for me a bit better than my runner-up choice, Feedreader.
Since I am using a local-client-based RSS feed reader, Google Reader was a service I was aware of but didn’t care about. When I found a new site to follow, I would subscribe directly in my client to the RSS/Atom feed and move on. If you use RSS/Atom feed reading with this approach you too might overlook or care very little for the status of Google Reader.
But here is where the impending loss of Google Reader does matter to me, a lot; I got an iPhone.
This is the rub. While I am feed reading directly on my PC, my feed client does all the work pulling in and managing the individual feeds.
When I got my iPhone, I looked at the RSS iOS apps available and they all seemed to require some third-party back-end API to manage the feed subscriptions, and would then pull the article/feed information down and present it.
So I got my Google Reader set up by exporting my Omea Reader’s subscription pile as a single OPML file, imported it into Google Reader, downloaded Phantom Fish - Byline. Ironically, “Google Reader on the go” is their product tag-line. Then I connected Byline to my Google Reader and away I went with my RSS feeds on the road.
While I can live without checking my RSS feeds during the day (as I survived just fine before my smartphone adoption), it does make the time spent at the end of the day on my local PC client reader that much faster since I come at it mostly caught up.
However, at this time Byline hasn’t seemed to offer any information about their plans to cope with the shut-down of Google Reader. Reeder for iOS also looks pretty good, but it also can use Google Reader. Feedly is working on a back end API that hopefully will mimic Google Reader. I like the thought very much, but the iOS app itself is a bit too GUI/graphic intensive. I like the streamlined, more text-based format of Byline and Reeder. Is it possible to recreate a Byline/Reeder experience in Feedly?
There are lots and lots of RSS apps for iOS. However they all seem to leverage a back-end API to collect the feed subscriptions from.
What I really would like is to find a RSS iOS app that allows me to import my OPML file directly to it, and let it operate as a “standalone” RSS feed client directly in-app (like my desktop RSS feed reader) and not need to depend on a third-party API to pull the feeds down from.
I’m confident that other developers will step into the void, and as Samer Kurdi at freewaregenius posted, this might indeed turn out to be a good thing.
It’s just going to cause a fair amount of anxiety and chatter among hard-core RSS feed users until it sorts itself out.
At least we have until July 2013 to see who steps up and delivers, both for the RSS feed ecology in general and the iOS/smartphone app ecosystem in particular.
Until then I will keep on RSS-feeding with my desktop client with nary a worry, but obsess about a future without RSS feeding on my iPhone until a savior is found.