Saturday, 6 April 2013

From Google Reader to Feedly


On 13 March, Google stunned journalists and bloggers around the world with the announcement that it would 'retire' Google Reader on 1 July. Like 3 million others, I quickly found my way to Feedly as a possible replacement.

A better RSS experience

I had been using Reader itself for more than five years to manage, read and share content from around 100 RSS feeds on the desktop. For at least three years, Reader had been synced to Newsrob on my Android phone. (I described my use of RSS feeds in a previous post.)

I chose to make the switch to Feedly principally because it promised continuity of service after Google Reader is switched off on 1 July. The team behind Feedly is replicating the Reader API, and will transfer users' subscriptions to their own 'Normandy' back-end before Reader is put in the ground. Seamlessly, it says here. In addition, I'm a big fan of cross-platform applications. Although NewsRob synced with Google Reader, Feedly's Android app not only syncs, it also employs the same structure, logic and design values as the desktop app. The resulting familiarity makes Feedly easier to use on both platforms.

Today, with Feedly on work and home PCs and on my Nexus 4, I am getting more value out of my RSS feeds than I have ever done!

The Android version of Feedly. Sharing and bookmarking functions are easy to use.


The desktop version. A Reader-like list view is now also available, but I prefer the more graphical timeline view.







The features I miss

For me, there are just four priorities for future development:
  1. an offline mode for the Android version, so that I can continue to browse my feeds when I'm out of range of a WiFi connection - NewsRob has this, and I miss it
  2. Search functionality that will let me track down older items in my own feeds - this was one of Reader's most powerful features
  3. a way to push a new feed directly to Feedly from the RSS Subscribe button of a web page - ideally, this would be implemented as part of the browser extension (I use the Chrome one), putting a one-click 'subscribe to this page in Feedly' button in the browser bar
  4. a smooth scrolling option on the Android version - at the moment, Feedly breaks the content across separate screen-sized 'pages', which I find distracting
[Update: Chrome users can now install this version of the RSS Subscription extension, which uses Feedly as the default RSS reader. If you already have the old Google extension installed, I suggest you uninstall that first.]

Is Feedly sustainable?

I also worry about sustainability. How do these people make money? The very few ads on the desktop version don't bother me, but I would hate to see any more.

Personally, I would be very happy to pay for Feedly, even if payment was voluntary. Why not $5.00 a year? This seems incredibly good value for the service, would cement the company's relationship with its users and keep it on its toes against the competition, and would help to fund continuing development.

Reader is dead. Long live Feedly!


Next post: Serious reading an an Android smartphone