Friday, 15 March 2013

Goodbye old friend

Anyone logging into to Google Reader from yesterday will have seen the message above reporting that Google Reader will shortly no longer be available. This is a great shame in my opinion as it was one, if not the only, app I used just about everyday on mobile and visited most often online.

You may have seen the Google blog post entitled 'The Second Spring of Cleaning', in which Google states that "...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".

If usage has declined then it still seemed to be doing pretty well. The android app was pulled from the Play store yesterday too, but I was able to  take a look at how many people downloaded it. It was listed between 1,000,000 and 5,000,000. It also had an average rating of 4.2 out of 5.


With regards to the web version, I can only speak of myself, but I found it an invaluable way to organise over 120 subscriptions.
I know not everyone shares my disappointment. There was a lot of comments on Twitter yesterday from people saying that they use Pulse or Flipboard, for example, so they don't see what all the fuss is about. Both applications are good examples of what they do, but for me they present two problems.

First of all, they don't do the job I want on the desktop. Flipboard is only available in android and iOS varieties, while Pulse, which can be read on the desktop, displays a mash-up of tiles rather than a clean, ordered list of articles...and things were so much easier to find in Reader.

Secondly, I follow a huge number of blogs, both work-related and of personal interest. Some people might only post once in 6 months, while others would post 10-15 times a day. Google Reader was great at keeping these organised with unread counts, folders, labels, ability to rename feeds, star them, etc. It was clean and organised. It was also capable of group editing your feeds the same way Gmail can change the labels, status and location of any number of emails. You never felt you were bombarded with information that you had to sort through to find what you were looking for, or that you would miss something, perhaps an important instruction manual related to changes at work, because it was buried by a hundred other posts that went up when you went to sleep.

I would need a solution that could sync read, unread (and labels or 'starred') articles across platforms (without looking at your Google Reader account to do the job).

For many years Google provided this excellent free service and they should be thanked for that.They see the company going in a different direction, perhaps moving people from Reader to Google+ projects in the hopes of toppling Faceboook's crown? Despite the introduction of communities though, I can't ever see Google+, or any social media for that matter, replacing the RSS reader. There is just too much information to sort through, your hands would seize up with the endless scrolling before you had read them all, or sorted through them to read later.

I know there are other RSS readers out there*, I have tried many of them in the past. I went with Google Reader because it did the best job of meeting my needs. It worked on my Windows and Linux machines as well as my iOS and portable android devices. So, yes, I will be very sorry to see it go and will spend the next few months trying to find an adequate replacement. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up with everyone and every site that is currently important to me and my work.

*It seems Newsblur, that do support web, android and iOS, have suspended their free accounts (probably because of the influx of new users. Anyway, they only supported up to 64 feeds in the free version).

If anyone knows of a good (and free?) cross-platform replacement let me know.

Goodbye Google Reader 2005-2013.

1 comment:

CBites said...

An opinion written much better than mine:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2013/mar/15/google-reader-killing-mistake