Intrepid Internet users who logged onto their Google Reader account Wednesday were met with the harsh reality that the beloved RSS service, widely considered the best online, will no longer be available past July 1. The news will be tougher on Iranians (who are able to navigate past their country’s Internet blackout with Google Reader), but its nonetheless an inconvenience for users who browse the Web with their own succinct, customizable feed.
Luckily there are a slew of other RSS services (which stands for Rich Site Summary but is more often referred to as Really Simple Syndication) that will be thrilled to accommodate the exiled mass of Google users.
As is the case with most online “emergencies” those seeking answers turned to the tech experts and community forums on discussion sites including Reddit and Hacker News. The most useful beacon in the night has certainly been Lifehacker, a blog under the Gawker umbrella that offers breakdowns and solutions to common problems -- technology and otherwise.
The simplest solution is Twitter. Influential bloggers and journalists frequently cite the social media titan as the easiest (but more importantly, fastest) way to keep up to date on the news.
It also addresses the main knock on Google Reader, which is that its sociability functions were gutted in an effort to force users onto Google +. Based on the traffic numbers, provided by BuzzFeed, that experiment has been less than Google strategists probably hoped for.
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Since Google Reader was launched in 2005 observers found that, in the age of Facebook and constant conversation, being able to share articles was a major selling point.
With that in mind, a quick tour reveals Newsblur.com as an early favorite to succeed Google Reader’s seat at the RSS throne. There is a free option but users will have to pay for premium Newsblur service (a measly $1/month). In return they’ll be able to import their old Google Reader feeds onto a service Lifehacker deemed “a little more polished” and access their reading on apps for Android and iOS.
RSS lovers looking to convert to Newsblur right away might experience some temporary hiccups, though, as multiple reports have indicated the site’s functionality has seen intermittent interruptions in trying to accommodate so many new customers so quickly.
Are you feeling adventurous? Feedly already has a devoted following for taking a different approach to keeping updated with the Internet. It’s a cloud service that merely requires a browser extension on Chrome and Firefox, and there’s been no indication the site is suffering outages.
The service promotes creativity and personalization, bragging in its About section: “We all have unique appetites when it comes to feeding our minds. Add the sources that inspire you and the news that matters to you. Pick your layout and your theme. Feedly is your Web.”
Or don’t change at all. Diehard Google Readers have been vocal in advocating The Old Reader, which is exactly what the name suggests. The informational page makes it clear that, while The Old Reader is a viable option in the present, the future could be very bright. A mobile app and the option to follow other users are forthcoming, building on the easy import settings and Facebook customization that are already present.
The options are overwhelming, there’s no doubt. But Google disciples would be wise to take advantage of the nearly four months available to switch to a new RSS. Happy reading.