It happens too often, even in the best of relationships. She was beginning to grow distant and I could tell that the time was coming when she would leave me for good. It hurt to wake up every morning, see her face, and know that our love would soon be dead. I denied it for as long as I could, but on July 1st of last year, it finally ended. And I knew I would need to find a replacement.
Google Reader was gone.
If you’re anything like me, you know only too well the heartache that was left when our favorite online reader went the way of the dodo bird. But, regardless of Google’s reasons for putting an end to everyone’s favorite reader, we’ll have to find replacements all the same.
In the web business, keeping updated on the latest trends and technologies is key, so I couldn’t waste time finding a new reader. I use my favorite RSS feeds to read articles that keep me on my game and allow me to come up with great marketing techniques for our many clients. So I did my research when it came to selecting my new favorite. I guess you could say I “dated around.” I checked out blurbs and read reviews like they were dating profiles. I went on dates (i.e. “signed up”) with a few to see how we clicked. I even went “pro” to see if there was a future with the ones I really liked.
And you know what? I think I may have found The One.
What I Was Looking For
When I first picked Google Reader 4 years ago, I had already done a lot of “dating around” to find something with all the features I needed. I wouldn’t be able to stay with my old love, Google, but I could find a reader with similar features:
- Mobile version as well as a web (or desktop) version. I do most of my reading/catching up while vegging out on the sof–I mean…while I’m out and about between responsible client meetings….
- Easy-to-add feeds. Search, find, click, done.
- Easy-to-read and view (preferably with a list view similar to Google’s).
- Seamless use between web and mobile. Basically, if I read an article on my desktop, I want my mobile version to know that I read it.
- The ability to mark favorite articles for future reference. For when I read something that describes perfectly what my business partner and I have been talking about.
- A categorize function to separate my feeds by subject (for those Sundays in September when I don’t care about web design and only want to hear about my Green Bay Packers).
- And, last but not least, a search function for sifting through everything. I follow 50+ feeds and need a good way to keep track of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working on something and realized that I read an article about it a couple weeks ago, but didn’t think it was necessary to save it.
Like a typical single guy on Match.com, I tried out a lot of different readers. I read article after article reviewing the best readers. I asked friends for their input. Some were promising, some were duds, but I came across a few that seemed to offer a pretty exceptional user experience. Now, everyone has their own set of likes and dislikes when it comes to programs like this, so all I can give you here is my own personal experience. But these are the top readers that I came across, followed by the one I chose.
The Old Reader
A reader that looks like Google? Check. Simple way to add subscriptions? Check. Mobile version? Well…not so much. They do have the option to “create” your own mobile app that’s compatible with Old Reader, but nothing integrated. I gave it a shot anyway, but wasn’t completely happy with it. For instance, it was a little hard to see at a glance which articles I had read and which ones I hadn’t. I’m used to the old standard of bold text = unread, regular text = read. The Old Reader uses a weird system of green tabs next to titles. Not intuitive. There is a search feature, but when I tested it out against Google’s Reader, it just wasn’t that accurate. I tried it out for a week and wasn’t blown away. Again, this is simply my opinion; maybe you had a better experience with it or you were simply more patient than I was. I’ll keep my account open for now, in case they add some more features. Overall, I give it a C-.
Curata markets itself as a “content curation system” rather than a reader. It seems like a really useful tool for bloggers and writers to organize their resources, but as a reader, it didn’t do the trick. At the time I was doing my research, there wasn’t a mobile app and it was really difficult to view multiple feeds at the same time. Solid D.
Feedly is the reader everyone is talking about, and for a while, I thought it would be my go-to reader. You can get the feed to look just like Google Reader. It has a mobile app. There’s no search function, however, they did say this was a feature they were working on. They also have a web-only version that doesn’t require a plugin to work. The only major issue I had was syncing my mobile and desktop versions. The mobile app would list certain items as “read,” but they were “unread” on the desktop version. It was almost like having two different accounts. Apparently, there are a number of ways to fix this, but I couldn’t get any of them to work. Final grade: B-.
Digg was my big winner. The feed is easy to use with a simple interface. It was already set up like Google Reader, so I didn’t need to change any settings to fit my preferences. The mobile app is current with your read and unread articles, and it even restarts where you left off…even if it’s been a couple days since you last checked in. There’s even a way to follow the articles that your friends or co-workers “digg” so you can collaborate and share ideas. Overall, I’m happy with it. The only issue is the lack of search function; however, they say that it’s in the works.
I can only predict a lifetime of love and happiness with my new reader. Were you as addicted to Google Reader as I was? What reader (if any) did you replace it with? Have you tried any of the readers listed above? Comment and let us know your thoughts.
Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. Our favorite feeds are Social Media Examiner and Copyblogger.