Flee screaming from Google Reader (but in which direction?)


18 days. That’s how much longer the zombified husk of Google Reader will stumble around the internet, pawing at loose handfuls of RSS feeds, before some engineer puts a bullet in its cerebellum.

18 days left to decide on a worthy successor. “Second prize is a set of steak knives!”

I’ve worked out a fairly straightforward set of criteria which I’m measuring all options against:

  • Server-based syncing: I follow a lot of feeds, by many standards. I’d rather not have to wait 20 minutes every time I poll for new feed items.

  • Import from Google Reader: I would also rather not spend a day copying over every feed location. I’d like a smooth, easy way to get my feeds from Google Reader to the new thing.

  • Good iOS and OS X native apps: At the moment I use (and really enjoy) Reeder on iOS and OS X, and whilst I wouldn’t say no outright to something new, it would have to replicate the speed and functionality of Reeder to be considered. I don’t like doing things in a browser — call it superstition but I just can’t trust that as much as a native app.

  • Paid solution: Take my money! I don’t want to break the bank, but I’ve been burned enough by free Google services that went away. I’m much more comfortable with paying a fee (even something tiny) to ensure better service and longevity.

Like many of you, I’ve been trawling1 the web ever since I heard Google Reader was “sunsetting”. I read hundreds of reviews and worked my way methodically through this list, and I managed to narrow it down to four finalists and a few runners up. Here they are (in no particular order).

1. NewsBlur

Details: $24 yearly | newsblur.com

Reviews: MacDrifter, Simon Lyall

I was almost sold on Newsblur after reading Gabe’s review, but I realized that some of things that sold him didn’t particularly appeal to me. I don’t need the web interface, good as Newsblur’s seems to be. This is also the only one of the four not to be supported by Reeder. Their app just isn’t as good. I also don’t care about the “social” aspect of Newsblur. Who needs the extra cruft?

2. Fever

Details: $30 once, self-hosted | feedafever.com

Reviews: MacDrifter, MacStories, Joshua Lyman

I thought about Fever for a while, but eventually came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to host it, despite the fact that I already have a server available. It focuses heavily on one of its features that actually kinda turns me off: the “Hot List”, a list of items form your feeds that, essentially, it thinks you should read. That’s just not how I read RSS. I split it very carefully into must-read and might-skim2, and I don’t need my feed reader to do that for me with some opaque algorithm.

3. Feed Wrangler

Details: $19 yearly | feedwrangler.net

Reviews: TUAW, MacStories, Shawn Blanc

Feed Wrangler was the first Google Reader replacement I read about after the Google announcement. I like the “smart streams” feature that it offers, and hopefully that won’t just be available in the browser interface. The browser interface is sparse, which suits me just fine as I expect to use it only rarely. The apps aren’t up to much but its developer says that they “are intended to serve only as a starting point”. So we might see some good future apps integrating FW. Supposedly Reeder is going to support it — hopefully before July 1st.

4. Feedbin

Details: $2 monthly ($20 yearly) | feedbin.me

Reviews: MacDaily, All Things Apple

I don’t have too much to say about Feedbin, except that it already is supported by Reeder, it has a great icon, and it provides pretty much the same functionality as Feed Wrangler.

Runners Up

feedly: I’ve actually used feedly occasionally on iOS. To me it seems like one of the best of the magazine-type readers, like Flipboard. The magazine style is pretty but it just doesn’t suit the way I read RSS.

NetNewsWire App: NetNewsWire was the first RSS reader I ever used. They are supposedly working on something new, but as of yet they haven’t said much about what that is. If whatever they’re working on has server-side syncing, I’d definitely take a look at it, if only for old time’s sake.

Conclusion

If, by the end of June, Feed Wrangler works with Reeder, and the smart streams functionality works in the app, then that’s what I’ll choose.

Otherwise, Feedbin it is.

Now let’s never ever talk about feed readers ever again.


  1. Not “trolling”. 

  2. A folder called “Firehose”.