Google Reader alternatives

Google Reader is shutting down on july 1st, everyone (who uses it) probably knows that by now. 

Tons of alternatives existed already and have emerged since the announcement (I've been using similar tools before Google Reader actually, such as netvibes) and now it's time to pick a new (or old one). Of course if I had the time I'd build my own uebersolution :)

Requirements

My requirements for the new RSS-reader are

  • Free (or at least not subscription based) and hosted. I don't want to have to host the software myself.
  • Decent Android support on small screens and tablets (I'm currently using gReader). Paying for a pro / add-free version is acceptable.
  • Sync between mobile, tablet and web.
  • Decent, light, no-zine like web version (similar to reader)
  • Shouldn't break at first use.

Candidates

tt-rss

A lot of people are very positive about tt-rss. Unfortunately there's no hosted option, Even worse, it's PHP which I don't want to support on my vps. I haven't tried its mobile interface. But again, a lot of my nerd friends are very happy with it. It is open source which is of course a very good thing.

NewsBlur

NewsBlur is open source, python based and comes with a hosted solution. There's a free hosted solution and a paid solution (paid is $24 or $36 per year depending on how generous you feel).

Importing your Google Reader feeds is trivial - it will connect to Google for you. However, this gave me the false impression that I didn't need to create an account and therefore didn't need a password (since it was optional). However, this means anyone who knows your username can login to your account.

The free version is somewhat limited. For example I wasn't able to get more than about 15 unread items per feed (not sure if this is an intentional restriction or if I'm just missing some option). Also, it's very slow (sometimes even stalling when loading a feed).

This, combined with a very poor Android app (no specific tablet support) and odd, unexpected "passwordless account" behaviour, made me decide not to chose NewsBlur.

Netvibes

I still had my old Netvibes account. Uploading my OPML data from google takeout wasn't very hard and I had my feeds up and running quickly. However, there is no Android app, only an iOS-like mobile site that won't scroll my feed items on my HTC One X (using the default browser). Probably a bug but unfortuately enough reason not to return to netvibes.

Feedly

Feedly has been the default answer right from the start when Google announced it would stop with Google Reader, so I already tried it a couple of months ago. However, I couldn't get used to the (in my opinion) too-fancy-zine-like interface. 

This has been improved, probably based on the feedback of all those Google Reader users coming to Feedly. My second impression now is that I can probably get used to the "Title Only View".

As for mobile apps: gReader which I'm already using is actively supporting Feedly (actually, it's their contingency plan since there's no reason for the app to exist if there's no feed aggregating backend). I've tried this and I'm very happy with the combination. Feels like a winner!

Conclusion

For now I'll stop hunting for the ultimate solution and stick with Feedly + gReader. Perhaps this is also a good time to purchase the gReader PRO version.

 

Update

After three weeks of using Feedly, some remarks:

  • Feedly is slow with updating feeds. Sometimes I see a posting announced on twitter that takes half an hour or longer to appear in feedly. "Syncing" doesn't seem to have an effect
  • There is no search. This really sucks. You know you read this interesting, relevant post a short while ago (but didn't realize it was relevant at that time) and now there's no way to find it.
  • The interface is often out of sync. The left will claim a feed / section has some unread items, clicking it results in 'There are no articles in this section'. Again, refreshing has no effect (reloading does)
  • Feedly has problems handling some feeds and rendering html in some feeds (specifically the dailywtf feed)
  • There's no usable feedback system. It's a forum-like system where you can make suggestions.

For now I'll have to live with these. But especially the missing search can be a show stopper for me (when I need it)

Last updated July 19, 2013, 8:16 a.m. | filed under Software | android apps google reader rss feeds
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