So, how are we going to replace Google Reader?

This is Very Bad News:

We have just announced on the Official Google Blog that we will soon retire Google Reader (the actual date is July 1, 2013). We know Reader has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We’re sad too.

There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.

To ensure a smooth transition, we’re providing a three-month sunset period so you have sufficient time to find an alternative feed-reading solution. If you want to retain your Reader data, including subscriptions, you can do so through Google Takeout.

I use — and depend on — Google Reader to keep on top of blogs, breaking news and tons of topics. It is an incredibly useful tool that helps me read, follow and organize a host of scattered information from any computer or from my Kindle.

Right now the 487 subscriptions in Reader have become my daily newspaper. That’s far fewer than the 3,408 subscriptions AZspot relies on for his invaluable Tumblr, but I have no idea how I would keep track of all of that without Google Reader.

Google says:

Once downloaded, your subscription data should be easily transferrable to another product, where you can continue to keep up with your online reading.

That’s good to know, but the reason I’ve been using Reader and not “another product” is that I haven’t found another product that does what Reader does.

But now, apparently, I have until July 1 to find one.

And no, no, no, no, noplease do not suggest that Facebook and Twitter are any sort of substitute.

One key thing I’m looking for in a replacement tool is the ability to access my feeds from anywhere and to sync that reading across platforms (Mac, chromebook, Kindle being the three I need).

Nate Hoffelder suggests “Seven Google Reader Alternatives for the Hard-Core User” — including Feedly, NewsBlur, Tiny Tiny RSS, The Old Reader, BlogLines, Opera, and Feeds Anywhere.

Does anyone currently use any of those? How are they? Any recommendations?

And then, just as Google has me grumpily fuming that the Web was working quite nicely before they came along and “fixed” it, Disqus decides to roll out its latest upgrade/degrade. That’s not helping.

See also:

• mistermix: Despite All My Rage, I’m Still Just a Rat in Google’s Cage

• Alastair Roberts: A Lament for Google Reader

• Bob Warfield: 6 Ways the Pundits Are Dazed and Confused About Google Reader and RSS

• Laura Hazard Owen: Google Reader, please don’t go — I need you to do my job

• Mat Honan: RIP: Google Reader Meets Its Inevitable End

• James Fallows: Today’s ‘Google, How Could You?’ Round-up

• Rupert Goodwins: Killing Google Reader is like killing the bees: we’ll all be worse off



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  • Jay in Oregon

    I’m looking at The Old Reader and NewsBlur from this article:

    Keep in mind that the smaller alternatives are getting slammed with new traffic; the guy who runs NewsBlur said his user count went from 5,000 to 20,000 literally overnight.

  • DanieleB

    I use Feedly and I’m very happy with it, Fred. Plus, they’ve been anticipating this for a while, so they’ve been working on an in-house API to replace Reader and are promising a “seamless” transition. We all know what promises are worth in the tech world, of course, but they seem pretty confident. I’m hoping it means I don’t even have to export my Reader settings (which I never, ever, EVER look at).

  • Feedly actually does a pretty good job at doing what Reader does, even better. It does involve either browser extensions or mobile apps, so not great for things like public computers, but other than that.
    Lifehacker rattles off a list of other good Reader replacements, as well.

  • Ned Leavitt

    I looked at feedly and didn’t like the interface, finding it slow to work, and counter intuitive. The Old Reader finally got my feeds imported and I think it’s going to be my solution. It took them a few days to get my import done, but since their user base has quadrupled I consider that reasonable.

  • Ugh, I’m right there with you (I get your feed on… Google Reader). When I first signed up for it, I actually remember thinking “It’s Google, it’s not going anywhere.”

    As a web developer who relies on Google’s various services, it’s kind of distressing that they’d completely axe one that I rely on *houly*. Doesn’t give me a lot of faith for their other products.

  • Feedly has been working out very well for me; its default arrangement is a little too “tablety” for me, but it has plenty of settings to adjust to one’s own liking

  • Patrick

    I am presently trying out Feedly, and am finding that the transition is fairly easy. Feedly is not as simple as Reader in its presentation, but they have some tips on making it similar to the Reader experience ( I hope that the migration to their own back-end will be smooth.

  • I’ve been using Feedly as well, and it’s been working well. There are some ways the mobile app could be better – having an option to display older items first, for example – but otherwise it’s quite nice, and the browser-based version can be configured to act similarly to Google Reader. (In particular I use the titles view, unread-only, oldest first.)

  • flat

    Don’t ask my opinion, I have no clue what Fred should choose.

    But I am interested in what you people would choose as an alternative, so fellow slacktivites please carry on.

  • Cythraul

    Another voice praising Feedly. I’m actually finding I like Feedly’s interface better than Google Reader’s.

    You can sign in to Feedly using your Google Reader account, and all of your subscriptions and organization will automagically already be there.

    Right now, it’s just acting as a front end for your existing GR account, but Feedly has promised that they’ll transition users over to their own in-house platform when GR shuts down.

  • John

    Feedly is doing it for me, so far. I’ve installed the Firefox extension on my work desktop, my home desktop, and personal laptop. Haven’t tried an app for my Kindle yet, but I don’t really use it for anything but books and videos these days.

  • Lori

    I also follow Fred and all my other favorite blogs on Reader and I am Not Pleased about having it taken away. Google and Disqus are both on my list. Speaking of which, is there any news from Disqus that indicates that they’re considering returning some choice to users or are they digging in and basically giving us the ol’ “bite me”?

    About Reader alternatives, most of the mourning Reader users who I know are going to either Feedly or Old Reader. I’ve played around with both of them a little, but haven’t come to a decision*, so I’ll be interested to see what other people have to say about this.

    *I’m a procrastinator, especially about involuntary change, so it’s pretty much a given that I won’t decide until June 28th at the earliest.

  • Andrew Marshall

    I’ll chime in for Feedly as well. They are expanding their capabilities, and listening to user feedback: Plus it’s nice that they are working on a seemless transition, so that if you make the jump now, you won’t even notice when your favorite newsreader dies in a few months.

  • Matt Runquist

    Another for Feedly. They are really taking this opportunity and running with it. I installed the extension “just to try it out” and haven’t logged in to Reader since.

  • fnarf

    Feedly works great. I switched when the announcement was made, and now I’m just sure I would go back even if they saved Reader.

  • Bryan Riddle

    Disqus ate my post :-/

    To recap what I said (I don’t feel like typing the whole post again), I’m using Feedly: better looking, more prone to lag, overall seamless transition.

    I’ve installed the app on my Android phone and it works well for me so far.

  • Stacia

    I tried out Feedly at another blogger’s suggestion and it’s pretty nice. Transfers all of your Google Reader info seamlessly, so that was a plus. The layout is similar to Reader, but a lot “prettier” and there are different viewing options. My ONLY complaint, and if it’s a user problem someone please advise, but when viewing my feed through the app on my phone, it shows unread and read items separately.

  • Jessica Grady

    I joined The Old Reader a week ago and love it. It’s definitely one of the smaller readers (or was, before this happened), and apparently it’s run by just 3 people, so there are some updating and loading issues. However, they’re working their asses off to get on top of the mass influx of new users and are really listening to our suggestions/complaints and taking everything to heart. I have very high hopes for this!

    Plus, the layout is very close to “classic” Google Reader and is one of the easiest out there to use.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Okay, I’m lost. Would someone mind educating me?

    I don’t use Google Reader; I just have my iGoogle page. Are these basically the same thing? Or two different things with the same function?

  • Peter Venable

    I switched to Feedly a couple of months ago and I love it. It’s generally a better reading experience, especially on mobile devices. However, managing subscriptions is not quite as easy as in Google Reader.

  • I’m giving Feedly a try for the time being. Right now, it syncs with Reader so you can use both until Reader is cut off. They have their own sync system in the works for when Reader’s gone. The risk is that it’s a free service without an actual business model, so it could go away someday. To insure against that, I bought a NewsBlur subscription. That one’s a little slower and not as pretty as Feedly, but it’s a good one to keep an eye on.

    This is coming from a long-time Reader user with over 1000 subscriptions. The news about Reader hit me like a ton of bricks.

  • Google Reader is my backend for Feedly and Flipboard. Luckily, both services have announced contingency plans. Never used it directly—just as a storage device, really.

  • I’m using Newsblur. I love the interface; it’s extremely similar to Reader, but looks better and has more bells and whistles. However, be forewarned, its pretty slammed at the moment, so performance is nowhere near what it should be. If you want to check it out, use That’s the developer server which has less users hitting it and also shows you the latest version he was working on when it got overloaded by Reader refugees.

  • AnonaMiss


    I’ve been a Google reader user since the beginning of the service. I spend hours on it every day.

    I can’t help but wonder if that’s part of the problem – Google tends to measure activity by ‘clicks’, but Reader is so useful and awesome that I never felt the need to click away!

    I’ll be making the decision on where to migrate to in a month or so, once we’ve had a chance to see how the feed sites are handling their user influxes.

  • My work’s firewall prevents me from installing extensions to Chrome. Is there a browser-only version of Feedly, or should I be looking elsewhere for a GR replacement?

  • John Small Berries

    I’m hopeful about The Old Reader; I queued my Google Reader subscriptions for import Sunday evening, and am still in the queue with over 22,000 users ahead of me (almost halfway there from where I started), but the ones I’ve added manually work fine. It’s missing some bells and whistles (like keypad plus/minus to change the font size), but it’s usable.

    Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated Android reader, but it seems to work acceptably in the Android web browser.

  • LoneWolf343

    Maybe someone will come up with something open-source to replace Reader.

    Though I confess I don’t know what it is. I never used it, but it sounds like Pulse which I used on my Kindle.

  • Apparently Digg is trying to step up to fill the void left by Google, and they’re taking feature suggestions.

    Other than that, I have no helpful suggestions, as I’ve never made much use of newsreaders.

    As for Disqus, I’m kind of annoyed that while they’ve come out with an app for Windows Phone 8, it doesn’t allow you to login via Facebook, so it does me no good, as I have no idea what my original login information was. I suppose I could try the “forgot password” link, as I’m reasonably certain what e-mail account I used, but I’m not 100% certain that’s linked to this profile. Oh well.

  • Two different things, though I believe you can add the Google Reader widget to your iGoogle page or something.
    By the way, iGoogle is also going away at some point in the near future.

  • I never got into Google Reader because I didn’t like the interface, but I have been using Feedly for 2-3 years and love it. I have heard from some GR fans that they do not like the interface because it is more picture based. I prefer it for that reason, but people obviously have different preferences. On iOS I have been using Newsify instead of the Feedly app. I like that as well.

  • MikeJ

    I have no idea how I would keep track of all of that without Google Reader.

    Actually I used to read everything through an RSS reader and stopped. Mainly because I found it better to not keep track of all that.

    There used to be blogs that I would read everyday, even though I rarely found them useful or interesting, but one time they had said something good. Now, I check on a handful of blogs everyday. If I don’t remember to read a blog today, well, I catch up tomorrow. If I forget it tomorrow, there’s a good chance I’ll forget it the next day and soon it’s gone from my rotation.

    Forgetting blogs is far more valuable to me than remembering them. I can’t read the entire internet everyday. The natural way to select which sections I do read seems to be, “which blogs excite me enough that I return even without a reminder?”

    Which isn’t to say that any one who uses a reader is doing wrong, just different. Give it a try for a week.

  • Evan Hunt

    The Old Reader looks passable on a web browser but appears to have no ability to sync to other devices.

    Feedly looks okay on a web browser (if you alter its default settings; the default settings are awful). Its android app is utterly unusable. And it uses Google Reader to sync across devices, so it’s is going to stop working on July 1 unless they come up with a replacement for the back-end.

    Newsblur costs money, which isn’t necessarily a problem for me, but its crippleware version is so crippled I refuse to even try it. 12 feeds isn’t enough for me to know whether I can live with this product; I have hundreds and hundreds of subscriptions.

    I’m desperately holding out hope that Google will change their minds due to popular demand, or else open-source what they’ve got instead of dropping it down the oubliette.

  • Think I am finally about to eclipse the Kubler-Ross stages of grief over this.

    I don’t believe (have not exhausted all of the suggested replacements) anything can replace Google Reader totally, at least in terms of (a) performance, (b) archival (site data going back to 2005 Google Reader inception, something impossible for new venture to replicate) and (c) search (which I relied upon frequently, though about a year ago or so, it stopped being comprehensive and only pulled up results from the last year or so).

    Thus far, Feedly seems to be the best choice — if you twiddle with the preferences (select “Condensed”) — it was able to sync up over 3K Google Reader subscription feeds (an achievement no other competing product can boast, and desktop RSS readers inflict smoking and sputtering of my box). The “All” index works like the Google Reader UX but it a little wonky, with items out of order. Feedly definitely an aesthetic display upgrade, is a responsive HTML5 layout (Google Reader has languished in this regard) but not crazy about the Android app. And don’t know why it made me install a Chrome app when it seems to be just hitting

  • TheBrett

    I’ve looked at Feedly, NewsBlur, and The Old Reader, and I think I’m going with the latter. It allows you to import your feed list of subscriptions, and it was explicitly designed to keep some of the features of an earlier version of Google Reader. It doesn’t have a mobile version, but I do the vast majority of my RSS reading either on a PC or in the browser of my Kindle Fire anyways.

    I’m not in a rush to get there, though. I’ll migrate sometime in June.

  • Chris Andersen

    I also was a heavy Google Reader user. Since the announcement I have switched to using Feedly. It seems pretty good. It provides a stripped down interface that is closer to the Reader interface while still allowing you the option of enabling a more magazine style interface.

    It also integrates with Google Reader so you can quickly switch to using it. Apparently it currently uses Reader as its back-end API, but the Feedly people have assured everyone that they have their own API ready to roll out soon. Apparently they have been anticipating this shut down for some time.

  • The Old Reader looks good, but it’s classified as a Social Networking site by one of the reputable categorization services, so it might as well be facebook as far as the work firewall is concerned.

    I’ve looked. There is literally no proper substitute for Google Reader. They’re either oriented toward the App-driven “magazine-style” interface which becomes totally unusable if you follow more than a handfull of feeds and is really only designed for picture-heavy-content-light stuff (THIS is basically the bane of the tech age. Everying is increasingly designed to give you an enriched experience that makes it utterly impossible to absorb information quickly, even as the amount of information available grows exponentially). Nothing, and I mean NOTHING other than reader is really designed to follow feeds like this blog’s comments feed. I shelled out for a subscription to NewsBlur, and it’s about as close to the functionality of Reader as you can get, but it’s got some issues. First, it’s crippled unless you pay. Second, it’s a bit flaky. It’s consistently lost track of which articles I’ve read, and occasionally, it will decide that one of my subscribed feeds has moved to a new URL and just switch it over for my convenience. By which I mean that for no clear reason, it just replaces one of MY feeds with some other more popular feed, such as deciding that Doonesbury is actually an Ubuntu tips and tricks blog now. And it’s down quite a lot. I suspect some or all of these problems are down to the fact that several million people are looking for a Reader replacement all at once. Finally, its UI has a bit of Counterproductive Cleverness. Like it tries ot mark articles read based on you passing your mouse pointer OVER them instead of clicking. And you can’t scroll with the arrow keys, since it overloads them to jump up and down in whole-article increments (So there’s no way to scroll an article which is longer than a page without using the mouse). Also, my son grabbed the right side of the keyboard and it hid all of my subscriptions and deleted all my saved articles.

    And, just the be clear here, this is the best replacement I could find.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The Old Reader looks good, but it’s classified as a Social Networking site by one of the reputable categorization services, so it might as well be facebook as far as the work firewall is concerned.


    I tried Netvibes, but it doesn’t seem to have any way to show unread only and it files newly spotted updates by time of posting and not time of spotting (and the combination is a Major Problem) and also it won’t play nice with work IE.

  • I’m in line (50254 and slowly ticking down in the import queue) to try out The Old Reader. Its lack of syncing or app support or whatever doesn’t matter to me, because I only use a desktop computer – can’t afford a smartphone, don’t own a tablet, so my unintended Luddism fits my needs in snugly with TOR’s service.

  • Cathy W

    In “reader view”, you can show Unread Only with “change display” – looks like a bunch of horizontal lines with a drop-down menu.

    I’m trying to figure out how to make it show Oldest First instead of Newest First.

  • I’m still heavily in denial. I’m going to wait at least a month or so before I start trying out alternatives hoping that either a better option emerges out of the internet’s primordial ooze or the mandarins at Google come to their freaking senses.

    On maybe three quarters of the blogs I follow, ranging in topics from politics to sports to technology to pictures of old crap there has been a similar post as this, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments over the death of our beloved Google Reader.

    My only question is…WTF? I mean, seriously, WTF? I realize that Reader may be small potatoes in the grander Google ecosystem, but how does it make sense for any company to throw away a piece of business this popular and well-loved? Look at how many people are scrambling to pick up the refugees.

    I may not be as smart as the Google guys, but I’m no dummy and I can’t see any way that this makes any sense at all.

  • I’m trying Feedly. With the proper settings, it is okay in the web browser. The iPhone app is really weird, though, and I haven’t gotten used to it. Also – Feedly is blocked at my work. So that’s no good. Maybe the Digg one under development will be good.

  • Cathy W

    I switched to NetVibes for a Google Reader replacement – as I noted in my reply to EllieMurasaki, my one complaint about it is that I prefer to read oldest first, and it insists on giving me newest first. With the option for Twitter and weather widgets, it simultaneously replaces iGoogle and Reader for me.

    I did eventually figure out how to make New Disqus switch between oldest first and newest first – except that the threaded discussion means “newest” isn’t necessarily “newest”. It doesn’t work for this site (or, I suppose, any site where discussions can be going on four or five days after a post…) I’ve noticed that not all blogs on Patheos use Disqus – are there other options to explore?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Aha. Thanks. And it’s behaving with work IE now. Weird.

  • I am still in denial, though I am trying to switch to the Old Reader. I see eye-to-eye with Fred on Google Reader. I still believe the Disqus update was a good thing. I have no need for browser apps; I use different browsers all the time.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I still believe the Disqus update was a good thing.

    Heretic! Heathen! Begone!

  • Cathy W

    …and their support team says they’re “working on” Oldest First.

    My work IE seems to sometimes decide pages need to be loaded in Compatibility View even when they don’t (another problem with new Disqus!). It’s not always consistent even on the same page – if it barfs on New Disqus, reloading it once or twice will usually make it work.

  • alkali

    I’m having a reasonably good experience with NetVibes. A bit buggy.

    I wish Google would just let me pay $5/month or so for Reader.

  • They want to put their emphasis on Google+, a platform they control completely. They don’t control RSS/Atom. That’s the short version. Google has lots its original mission.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, no. Nymwars. Not going near Google+.

  • Yeah, netvibe’s lack of user-controlled sort ordering was the dealbreaker for me. Coming home and opening up the rss feed for THIS PLACE and fining 100 articles in the wrong order?

    Also, the thing is so squishy and Web 3.0 that it’s hard to use.

    One of the links Fred gave up above had this quote on why people used Reader, and why none of the substitutes actually substitute:

    Serious RSS users aren’t into it for the luscious jpegged beauty. RSS
    feeds, taken straight, are a wall of text. That’s useful when you want
    to let news wash over you, to scan screenfuls of headlines without
    waiting for extraneous pictures to load. When I want to absorb a lot of
    information fast–which is to say, always–I don’t have time for
    Flipboard. I want exactly what Google will be taking away from me this