With the Readerpocalypse now just days away, GigaOM is one of many offering a second look at some alternatives. Their write-up was particularly helpful because they looked at some of the finer details such as freemium versus pay, and whether an offering is a full-fledged product or just a side gig for some otherwise-employed developers.
For myself, the Beloved and I have reluctantly hitched our sales to the Feedly wagon. For me, it was a must for two reasons:
1. Cross-Platform Support
This is vital to me because I often check news feeds on the go and flag the stories I want to look at later. In fact, I usually compile the Morning Roundups for TeleRead from bed, picking out the stories on my iPhone app so I can clear my feeds for the next day. I needed both computer versions and app equivalents, and I needed them to be able to stay in sync with each other so I could check my feeds across multiple devices.
2. Linear News Feed
Allegedly, the reason Google Reader shut down is that Google doesn’t think people read the news in a linear way anymore; I still do. I don’t want a news reader that shuffles the stories every time I read it to help me ‘discover’ new stuff. I want to be able to log in and see everything I missed from the sites I visit already. I want to know who posted what since the last time I looked. So for me, Feedly was the winner because it was the most robust and well-supported Google imitator that looked pretty close to what I had before.
In my several weeks of experimenting, I’ve found some other things I’ve liked about Feedly, and some I didn’t.
1. Embedded Audio
I didn’t know they had this feature! The Beloved uses RSS to manage his favorite podcast subscriptions. He can check his feeds and see at once if there’s a new episode, and often he’ll play the episode right from within the reader. He had to fiddle a little to get the settings right in Feedly. I think he accidentally marked something ‘read’ a few times and then had to go back and find it later. But I know he’s glad he can keep using his feed reader for this.
2. The Web Version
This was just rolled out for those who read on their computers, and I don’t like it; the sidebar disappears when you’re reading. This makes it pokier to navigate than Google Reader was. Also, it keeps switching back to picture previews even though I have set it for text only. I know Feedly sees the mobile apps as their main priority, but I hope they spend a little time beefing up the Web version too.
3. Sharing Features
These are more robust than Google Reader, and I approve. It’s nice to be able to email or share a story without leaving the app. I did learn the hard way, though, that they don’t format the shares in such a way that it’s always clear it’s not a regular email. If you hit send and don’t add your own message, it will look like an email from you and not an article or link.
Overall verdict? I still don’t get why Google Reader has to die. But I’ll manage with Feedly. I am not wildly excited about it by any means, but it will do the job.