Google Reader, a much-loved web-based and mobile-app RSS reader, will be shut down on July 1, 2013. Regardless of what you plan to do, use Google Takeout to export your Google Reader data so you have a copy of your feeds,comments, history, and starred/liked posts. If possible, import your Google Reader feed directly to any of these sites if you try them out; this will make the transition process much easier once you decide on a replacement.
How I use RSS readers
I use Google Reader in the list view, and keep the layout as densely-packed as possible. For me, a RSS reader is an aggregator of news more like an inbox than a magazine. I’d like to be able to read as much as possible within the reader, without needing to open up the site in a separate browser tab. I also prefer to have search functionality available within the reader, which makes it easier to search from my feed sources. I don’t use the sharing or social media tools much or at all.
I prefer native mobile apps over mobile versions of a web page. The Google Reader app was good enough for me despite clumsy navigation between feeds and offering only one view.
Curata Reader is a new service that was opened to the public about two weeks ago. Curata’s main product is a suite of tools for businesses to find and share web content, and this heritage is apparent in Curata Reader. One of the few configuration options is to only show posts that contain certain keywords. View options are limited, and you need to configure each RSS feed individually to control how much of each article is displayed. You can view full articles from the article list but this is set at the feed level; you can’t pick which articles to expand/contract.
Feedly has built an RSS reader that has a great amount of polish, features, and functionality. It offers the traditional headline/full view of articles in addition to two other magazine-esque views that let you browse your feeds by date or source. Feedly also makes discovering new feeds easy by site or by subject with a “Add content” pane that searches websites and allows you to add news results via Google or Yahoo News.
Feedly’s mobile apps also let you switch between different views, smoothly integrates gestures for quick navigation, and allows you to view the article via a built-in browser. Of all the mobile apps, Feedly’s is the most polished and feature-rich.
Newsblur is the personal favorite of fellow Mobilized writer Ryan Brazell, and it’s easy to see why: Newsblur has a very useful split view (similar to Outlook’s reading pane), it’s fast, and it allows you to quickly switch between a list view of headlines: a full-text view of articles, and a view of the article as it appears on the feed’s website. It doesn’t have a search function though.
My main quibble with Newsblur’s mobile apps is a “mark all as read” button that is way too easy to accidentally press. I’m not an inbox-zero type of person, and I don’t want to empty out my unread article list. I prefer a denser layout, so the article list in the mobile apps is too full of whitespace for my liking.
Newsblur has free and premium ($24/year) tiers; free accounts are limited to 64 feeds, update slower, and don’t have an “endless list” view of feed folders. Signing up for a premium account removes these limits.
The Old Reader
The Old Reader looks and behaves as closely to Google Reader as possible. If not for the color palette differences, it’d be easy to believe you were using a de-branded version of Google Reader. The Old Reader also mimics Google Reader’s limitations, however, as it lacks the multiple view options like Newsblur, Feedly, and Pulse. You can’t view articles on the site within The Old Reader, and customization options are limited to the bare minimum.
Pulse has a distinctly different look and feel from the rest of the options in this comparison, favoring a more pictoral, magazine-like browsing experience over the usual inbox-esque interface. Unfortunately there’s no search function in either the web interface or mobile apps
The Pulse mobile apps look nearly identical to the regular browser interface
Pulse is pretty, but is better suited to a “pick and choose” style of reading instead of a continuous flow.
|Mobile app?||Sign–in method|
|Curata Reader||No||Google, site-specific|
|The Old Reader||No||Facebook, Google, site-specific|
|Pulse||Android, iOS||Facebook, site-specific|
I initially liked The Old Reader because it was so similar to Google Reader, but Feedly’s polish and extensive customization options have won me over. Newsblur was a close second for me, it lost out because it lacks a search function, it would occasionally time out when loading feeds, and the social/sharing tools aren’t a high priority.