It’s always a sad moment when a notice appears saying one of your favorite web services is shutting down. I, and many other users, felt that stab recently when Google announced it would be shutting down Google Reader in the beginning of July. Their stated reasons were declining user base and a need to focus their development and engineering resources in other places. Other sources online credit the decision more along the fact that Reader could never be successfully monetized. Either way, it doesn’t matter much to the multitude of people who will see their favorite RSS reader shuttered later this year.
Immediately after the announcement there was a repeated digital cry; “Where am I going to go to read all my feeds now?”
Post after post appeared listing out all the options out there, most of them free (to compete for the Google Reader user base ) while a choice few offered some extras and charged small fees. Scrolling through the recommendations and reading the reactions it seems we might already have a clear winner in the race of who sweeps up the digital drifters:
In just a matter of days (or more dramatically a matter of hours), Feedly picked up over 500,000 new users, including me. I was hesitant to try out a new RSS reader, but I wanted to get in enough practice with my new choice before Reader officially went dark. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy any new option so quickly off the bat, but Feedly more than does the job.
There are a couple new stylistic choices over Reader, taking a few small steps away from the minimalist design Google is known for, but that isn’t where Feedly really shines. In today’s connected digital landscape, where many people have a smart phone, desktop computer and a tablet (again, I’m a prime example), we need web-based readers that work and look good on any platform. Google Reader was never a great choice in my opinion on the smart phone side and the tablet version really worked best when used in desktop mode, which still wasn’t perfect. Reader survived on the desktop version for me and I ended up feeding my RSS list into other apps for tablet and smart phone use (like Flipbook).
But Feedly was ready for the moment and came to the table with highly integrated and platform styled versions, all working seamlessly with each other. Just in the few days I’ve used it I’ve found that while the desktop and tablet versions are nice, Feedly succeeds in the one place I felt Google Reader failed so badly, on the phone. The iPhone format is smooth, easy to move through hundreds and hundreds of posts (I have a lot of feeds) and uses a very subtle swiping method for nearly every command.
They are also developing an ingestion tool so Google Reader users and officially move their subscriptions into Feedly instead of just using it as a different front end experience. It will be in place long before Reader shuts down, so my anxiety over it is mostly gone.
What about you? Any other converts out there to Feedly? What about other options?