RSS devotees around the world collectively shared a loud gasp when Google announced in a blog post that it would be putting Google Reader out to pasture:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
The announcement was less of a spring cleaning and more of an all-out-demolition job of a key service web denizens have used for years. While the decision is without a doubt a rather gutting one, there are actual statistics that back up Google’s claim. In a recent consumer survey, a mere 9.5% responded as being actual RSS users. Humorously, the answer of “I don’t know” tops it by a wide margin with a sizable 19.6%. This causes one to wonder if it’s not that RSS itself has fallen out of popularity, but rather, the masses are not as savvy with the service anymore due to avenues like social media providing simpler ways to keep up to date with websites. Another answer which gives this impression is the 36.8% who know what RSS stands for (Answer: It’s Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary).
Statistics aside, the discontinuation of the service is akin to how veteran gamers feel when the servers of their favorite oldschool games are finally put to sleep. No doubt many who rely on RSS as way of staying on top of their news and entertainment haunts will feel left without an effective tool for doing so. Thankfully there are many alternatives poised to take the reins and are available through a variety of platforms. Google’s browser Chrome seems to lead most in this area of web based ways to view your feeds. One particular extension that holds a 5 star rating in the Chrome Store is RSS Feed Reader. It’s a compact and light way to browser your feeds, it sits conveniently in the extension bar, and best of all Google Reader users can sync their feeds and transition in a snap.
Firefox users do not have as many options on the table but the ones available are well executed. One add-on many RSS Firefoxers have enjoyed for quite some time is NewsFox. NewsFox’s layout is on the humbler side and maximizes on organization. Feeds can be viewed from a pane at the side of the screen and are stored via folder trees. Rather than bog down your browsing with constant updating, NewsFox updates when you want with a single click. It even sports localizations so non-native English speakers can enjoy the benefits of the add-on as well. The greatest feature of all for this add-on is the fact that you can read your feeds whether you are online and offline.
A strong contender outside of the browser space is one that has had a dedicated user base for years Feedly. Feedly is not just limited to your browser and has a wide ecosystem of devices that it is compatible with. Feedly presents one of the nicest presentations of RSS feeds and utilizes a newspaper type layout of the content. Social butterflies will love Feedly’s seamless integration with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and appreciate the ability to share content on-the-fly with friends. Migrating to Feedly should be pretty painless and you rely on the guide Feedly themselves put together to help you do just that.
The above alternatives merely scratch the surface of options that match or top the prior benefits of using Google Reader. It is hard to say whether RSS is here to stay but at least for now, the services mentioned above have not shown one indication of crying uncle yet. So Dragonblogger readers tell us: Are there any RSS readers you use that you believe rival what Google Reader offers?