Moving from Google Reader to feedly

March 25 2013

Like many others, I have been taking Google Reader for granted. So when Google announced they are killing off Reader on July 1, 2013, I started stressing about how I would transition. Probably around 90% of the content I read daily comes from Google Reader. While I’m starting to use Twitter more, it’s just not the source for my daily reading. Recently, I’ve started trying feedly as a potential Google Reader replacement.

First, I’ll talk a little more about my current setup. I started using Google Reader four years ago; I’m currently subscribed to around 50 feeds. Those feeds include websites that cover technology (Slashdot, AllThingsD), cloud (AWS Blog, Giga OM Cloud), sports (Grantland, basketball blogs), and music (violinist.com). I used to do nearly all my reading directly from Google Reader, either the web app that Google provides as a default, or the Reeder app that I have installed on my iPhone and MacBook. More recently, I’ve been using Reader more to scan articles and saving ones I want to read to Pocket*.

* I absolutely love Pocket. It syncs with everything (iPhone, Kindle Fire, MacBook, work laptop) and I can pick up on my reading anywhere. They probably also have a very valuable collection of data on their customers’ interests and behaviors. I’ll have to see at some point if they’re looking for a good product manager :-).

I’m very particular when it comes to the sources that I read from. I absolutely need to read or at least scan every article in order to have peace of mind that I’m not missing anything. I’ve tried apps like Pulse that try to combine RSS with popularity, but I always abandon them because there is a lack of organization around marking items as read.

I decided to try feedly. They are currently similar to other RSS apps out in the market (such as Reeder) that depend on the Google API for RSS. They’ve announced that they are working on a homegrown API solution to mimic Google’s, with the promise that if you sign up with feedly before July 1st, your currently Google subscriptions will be migrated automatically to the new feedly system. There’s definitely an element of risk here in that I’m trusting them to deliver on their word and be ready for the July 1st deprecation of Google Reader.

Can feedly deliver on their promise?


Overall, I think feedly enables me to continue my current experience with Google Reader. Here are some of my thoughts so far.

Pros * Great platform support: feedly is available for a wide range of platforms, including iPhone, Kindle Fire, and as a web app. * They take customer feedback seriously. * Beautiful interface. “Magazine” style is really quite nicely organized, although I still prefer to just jump in via the “List” view. * Keyboard shortcuts on the web app. I mostly just use “j” and “k” to jump to the next/previous article. * Pocket integration.

Cons * Cannot do a custom sort of feeds. You can only sort your feeds if you organize them into folders first. This was slightly painful for me as I had just relied on Google Reader’s custom sort ability, and now I needed to put all my feeds into specific folders. * The web app must be “installed” as a plugin or extension. This is just annoying - it limits the ease of access that Google Reader had (just hit a URL and sign in). * The content is not downloaded onto the mobile app. One of the great things about Reeder is that it actually downloads the content so you can access it even if you don’t have a connection. feedly requires a live connection. * No Pocket integration in the web app. I think the idea is that you can just go to the real web page from feedly and then save to Pocket from there. But I don’t get why the option to save to Pocket is there in the mobile apps but not there for the web app.

There’s nothing there in the Cons that will seriously deter me from using feedly*. In fact, feedly solved for me a huge headache I had in trying to find a suitable RSS reader for Kindle Fire.

* Except possibly the download of content onto the mobile app. I’m hoping Reeder steps in with some Google Reader integration as well for post-July 1 so I can keep using it.

There’s undoubtedly a lot of eyes on feedly these days. They pretty clearly emerged as the top choice in all those “life after Google Reader” articles. Let’s hope they seize this momentum to execute on their Google Reader API replacement plan as well as some of the customer feedback they’ve received.


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