Google Reader Replacements

Google Reader is going the way of the Dodo. I’m sorry to see it go as I was a user. Maybe not a power user, but it was still a very useful tool to keep up with the news that I was interested in. Fortunately user’s have been thrown a life perserver, as other applications have come to the rescue.

Personally, I am going with Feedly. I’ll just go ahead and get that out of the way now. I have been an off and on user of the web version for some time. I even had an account with them already that was importing my Google Reader stories. Having an Android app that is pretty good was icing on the cake that I wanted to eat.

In this list of contenders my criteria was having a good mobile app available. Having a good desktop option was a bonus. Being able to manage your RSS feeds needed to be easy as well.

Google Currents
I honestly think that Currents is going to replace Reader finally. It served the same purpose, but with more of a Flipboard magazine like appeal. I don’t like Currents in its current form. It went from being fairly straight forward in use to being confusing. At least for me. In it’s early stages it also suffered from various bugs including a very slow updating mechanic, some times not updating at all. It seems Google was trying to introduce a new type of formatting, but it just has not caught on. They should KISS and make this the Reader replacement. It can do the job, but it’s not ready for prime time yet. Flipboard still smokes it.

The largest caveat is we don’t know if Currents will be allowed to import former Reader subscriptions. It would be disastrous to have to start all over again.

There is no desktop version for Currents.

Flipboard
Flipboard is awesome. It’s hard to beat. For a very long time Android users had to just watch iOS users have all of the fun using Flipboard. Finally it came to Android, at first only Samsung devices, but then quickly to everyone. I got a hold of the APK before it was available to everyone and started using it ASAP. I loved it up until a certain point.

Flipboard has the ability to import your Twitter feed and this is where things go off track for me. The Twitter feed portion was crowding out my regular RSS feeds. Flipboard also segregated feeds. Flipboard much like Currents has its own feeding system, but at least it allows you to import Reader as well. My largest turn off was the ads that showed up in the last update. They are random and rarely have any thing to do with what I’m reading. Having to click through the ads is annoying. I just want to read my news on the go.

There is no desktop version for Flipboard.

RSS Junkie
If you don’t want any bells or whistles, and you don’t need desktop access, then this may be the app for you. They don’t even use Reader syncing like the previously mentioned apps. It is the closest looking to the former Google Reader app as well. I’ve never used the app, but it looks promising and had a spike in users once it became known that Reader was going away. 4 out of 5 stars in the Play Store can’t be a bad thing.

There is no desktop app.

Press
Press looks good. There are some complaints about it though. It does not have a lot of the swipe abilities that current apps have. Not having those abilities may make navigation not as fun for some. However, there are no ads and Press will be migrating to it’s own backend servers to keep your RSS feeds intact once Reader is fully shuddered.

Press does cost $2.99 in the Play Store and does not have a desktop version. Knowing that Press will live on beyond Reader and keep your stuff intact maybe enough to give it a try. Plus no ads. No ads. No ads.

Don’t complain about the cost. You’ll spend that on getting a cola at the convenience store or on Starbucks in the morning.

Pulse
Pulse has every thing including the kitchen sink in it. That’s a bad thing for me. In my opinion from whence it came it was was a lean mean Flipboard killing machine. Then it got fancy. The app is doing to much for me. The last time I used I simply gave up. The app is huge and can do many things, but it seems to have lost the core of being a very good app to view RSS feeds in. It was innovative, but to a point it’s not a joy for me to use. I feel like I need an instruction manual.

One of my biggest complaints about Pulse was link sharing that only lead you to the Play Store to download their app. What was up with that?!

Pulse does have a desktop version, but I have not tried it. That’s how turned off I was by the app.

NewsBlur
NewsBlur looks good. There is an Android app and a desktop version. There is also a feed limit unless you pay. That last tidbit is not advertised upfront on the app page in the Play Store and has lead to a lot of down rating. Developers should be up front.

NewsBlur looks like it is trying to build a social community around RSS feeds within the app itself. That’s already taken care of. It’s why we like sharing articles to Google+ and Twitter. To add another community may set this one up for failure. It’s hard enough getting people to follow you from one community to another.

Feedly
Feedly is the King of Kings of RSS feeding right now. How popular is it? Their servers could almost not handle the mass invasion caused by the announcement that Reader was shutting down. It is almost a 5 star app on the Play Store as well.

I’ve used Feedly on an off since it’s beta days before it was an Android app. It was just a desktop app, but it had a great layout going for it and made my RSS feeds look beautiful. It was the first app I really turned to once the Reader closure was announced. Feedly was quick to say they were upgrading and would be able to handle the influx of users. Feedly also said that once the Reader servers are turned off, your RSS feeds will automatically be ported over in full.

Feedly was on top of their game. The app could use a show an tell feature to help you learn how to use it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very pleasing to the eye. It strikes a good balance between keeping it simple, but adding a splash with photos.

Feedly follows the Google model of text ads, which I know appear on the side for the desktop version, but I have not seen them in the Android app yet. If there was a paid version, yes I would pay for it. I like it and I’m sticking with it.

Other Notes
Feedly and Flipboard both require you to create accounts. Currents, uses your Google account of course. I’m hoping with the Google sign in API available, that Feedly will adopt it.

Currents will remain on my phone, but Flipboard is hitting the bricks. Maybe one day Currents will unseat Feedly, but until then, Feedly is my RSS feeder.

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