In which (I hope) I found the right Google Reader replacement

Aside from Google Search and Gmail, Google Reader is the only other Google product that I use regularly. I check Google Calendar from time to time, I have lots of documents in Google Drive and some photos in Picasa Web, but I don’t use them as much as I use Google Reader. I check Google Reader when I’m on my way to and from the office, or whenever I’m alone and on the go. I use Google Reader during my idle moments when I’m at home. This morning, I was shocked to read from my Google Reader Android app that Google is Powering Down Google Reader. How ironic was that?

I use Google Reader to keep up with my 145 subscriptions, which includes personal blogs, web comics, programming, finance, gaming, sports, and start-ups. Since May 31, 2007 I have read a total of 127,223 items. And that’s not even a lot considering I know someone who has read more than 300,000+ items starting 2010.

Perhaps, my sentiments regarding this issue can be best summarized in this video:

so wouldn’t discuss more about that. Instead, here’s a brief summary of how I immediately looked for a Google Reader replacement after reading the sad news.

There are a couple of things I need from an RSS Reader that Google Reader has and it will be difficult to transition to something that offers half the features. So I’ve setup a list of required features I need for the replacement:

  • Should be accessible via the web (Duh!)
  • Should have a dedicated Android app. One of the reasons why I acquired a Galaxy Nexus last year was so I can read my Google Reader items while on the go
  • Should allow seemless exporting of Google Reader subscriptions, including archived posts, Starred items and Folders
  • Should allow signing-in using Google accounts
  • Should allow social sharing

Optional features:

  • Web UX/UI similar to Google Reader
  • Shotcut keys similar to Google Reader
  • Android app UI similar to Google Reader Android app

Based on the suggestions from Quora, I will be looking at NewsBlurThe Old Reader, Rolio, Netvibes, Feedly, SwarmIQ, Good Noows, and Skim.Me.

Newsblur

Has an option to “Import from Google Reader”. But as of this writing, it’s taking Newsblur years to import my Google Reader contents. I’m not even sure if it already encountered and error but still shows the bouncing loading gif. Perhaps because all other migrants are doing the same. It goes to show that the site isn’t ready to accommodate lots of users.

The Old Reader

Has an option to log in using a Google Account. But when I clicked the Import link, it gave me this message:

Hey! Because of the huge load we started seeing from lots of concurrent feed import operations, we had to limit the number of imports active at any given time. It looks like right now there are no available slots left, so you might want to visit this page some time later. Meanwhile, feel free to subscribe to feeds manually.
Please accept our apologies for this inconvenience.

Rolio

It required me to provide a username and password. End of story.

Netvibes

Requires users to pay $499/month just to enable tagging and searching. Err…

SwarmIQ

Skipped this when I noticed that the one who posted this on Quora was part of the SwarmIQ team. I’d rather spend my time evaluating something others have actually tried and didn’t self-promote.

Good Noows

It allowed me to sign-in using my Google Account, but I was turned off by the magazine-style layout and didn’t immediately present a way for me to import my Google Reader stuff.

Skim.Me

The site still requires an invitation and requests to manage my YouTube account, contacts, calendars, and perform those operations when I’m not using the application. Totally unnecessary.

The Winner: Feedly

It doesn’t have the exact UI of Google Reader, but the layout is pretty much the same. The UX is almost identical. Some of the shortcut keys even work (at least those that I’ve tried). Their Android app also looks usable. Currently, the data they show is still coming from Google Reader, but the good news is that they have a plan to seamlessly transition to their own back end. Since there’s really no other decent alternative, I’m giving Feedly a go.

P.S. I’m still hoping Google with take their announcement back and realize the huge mistake they’re going to make by shutting down Google Reader.

Note: This post will be updated in case I find a better Google Reader alternative.

Cleaning my Google Reader subscriptions

It’s that time of the year to clean my Google Reader subscriptions. I unsubscribed from the feed if…

  • The last item came from way back in 2008, which probably means that the author is either dead or lost interest in writing.
  • I can’t remember who the author of the blog is. What I usually do is subscribe from a feed if the author or the posts seem interesting. If the author or the posts are not as awesome as I thought, then I’m bound to forget who the author is and eventually unsubscribe.
  • The the feed is spamming my reader. I consider an average of 3 posts a day as spam.
  • I am no longer interested with the topic.
  • It’s a dupe. I sometimes unknowingly subscribe to a feed more than once.

With the following exceptions:

  • I personally know the author or at least a part of a circle where I belong. It’s nice to know what’s happening with my circle every once in a while and connect whenever possible.
  • The old posts are so good that I’d like to keep them archived in my reader. “So good” means I can learn from rereading those old posts.

I also unfollowed people from my reader if…

  • The person has no shared items.
  • I can’t remember following that person on Google Reader.

Now I only have 125 subscriptions.

Show recent Google Reader shared items in your Facebook Wall

  1. Login to your Google Reader account.
  2. On the left side of Google Reader, click Shared Items (see screen capture).  Screenshot - Google Reader - Shared ItemsYou should now see your shared items.
  3. At the topmost part of the shared items, you should see this (see screen capture)
    Screenshot - Google Reader - At This Web Page
  4. Hover over the ‘at this web page‘ link and copy the link location.
  5. Now login to your Facebook account.
  6. Under the Wall tab, click Settings.
  7. Under Stories Posted by You > Imported Stories > Available Sites, click Google Reader.
  8. Enter the Public URL of your Google Reader shared items.
  9. Click Import.

All done.