The end is finally here: Google Reader gets shut off, for good, on Monday, July 1st. Well before then, you should be celebrating your independence from Google’s feed reader, with an app that works just as good — or perhaps even better for your needs — than Google Reader ever did.
In the months since Google first announced they were going to shut down Google Reader, a ton of new RSS reader apps have been released, and many older, less known ones have become popular all over again. It’s actually a great time if you’re a fan of RSS readers, and chances are you’ll find yourself happier with one of the alternates today than you were with Google Reader.
But you’ve got to move now, before Google turns Reader’s power off. Here’s the apps you need for this weekend project — one that should take a whole of 5 minutes if you don’t get distracted reading through your feeds.
EXPORT YOUR DATA, NOW. was that loud enough?
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: you’ve got to export your data from Google Reader before it gets shut down, unless you want to start over and find the feeds for your favorite sites again. Even if you don’t know what app you want to switch to, get your data exported today. Really.
We’ve already walked you through the export process in our first article on replacing Google Reader, so take a minute and read that first. Then, head over to http://google.com/takeout/#custom:reader and get your data backed up.
You’re all set now, as long as you do that this weekend.
The Best RSS Reader Apps Online Today
With that behind you, it’s time to get a new RSS reader app. There’s tons out there, and we’ve reviewed many of them over the past months. But we want the best way to replace Google Reader, and these are the apps that have stood out as the best Google Reader replacements. We think you’ll find one from this list that’ll fit the Google Reader-shaped hole in your heart perfectly.
The Closest to Google Reader if You Used it Online: Digg Reader
Leave it to a site that died and came back to release a Google Reader alternate that’s an almost perfect update to the Google Reader we all knew and loved. The new Digg — owned by Betaworks, the people who bought out Instapaper and also own Bit.ly — hasn’t reclaimed its spot as the bookmarking site everyone uses, but its just-released feed reader has a solid shot to be the feed reader everyone uses. Really.
It looks almost just like Google Reader’s web app, with a cleaner grey theme, and works the same way. You can import your feeds from Google Reader or just by typing in a site’s name, and you’ll be reading through your news with j/k shortcuts in seconds. Then, you can share articles to Twitter or Facebook and save articles to Instapaper or Pocket like you’d expect these days. It’s even got a network of sorts built-in for saved articles, like Google Reader did back in the day, thanks to it being integrated with Digg.
There’s no desktop apps yet, but it already works in Digg’s iOS apps. If you loved Google Reader in your browser, and want a no-fuss alternate, this is the one for you.
Price: Free, with Digg Pro paid features coming soon
When You Want a Different Twist on RSS – Feedly
If you’ve been looking around for a Google Reader alternate, there’s almost no way you haven’t heard of Feedly yet. It was one of the most full-featured online alternates when Google announced they were shutting down Reader, and the Feedly team has worked fast to add more features over recent months. With Feedly, you can read through your feeds just like in Google Reader, opt for a more Flipbook-style magazine interface, or go for something in-between. It’s configurable, fun, and works great — though it’ll take a bit more to get used to if Google Reader’s interface is in your muscle memory.
Feedly boasts its own native iOS and Android apps, as well as integration with a number of other mobile apps and IFTTT if you want your RSS to work for you. There’s even two Windows 8 apps for it already, and the Mac app RSS Tab will be adding support for it soon.
AppStorm Review: Feedly: The Customizable News Reader For the Web
You’d Rather See the Original Site — NewsBlur
NewsBlur has been around for quite some time, but with Google Reader around, it never got as popular as it could have. Now, with Google Reader gone, it was one of the most obvious alternates — one that’s also gotten better over the past months. It’s fast, lets you read your news from your feeds or in the original site context, lets you share stories with your friends inside your “blurblog” on NewsBlur, and even can learn what you like and don’t like to intelligently surface the news you most want to see. And it’s freemium, great for those who want to try for free but also better for those who want to pay and support the Google Reader alternate of their choice.
NewsBlur has its own native iOS and Android apps, and syncs with ReadKit 2 on the Mac, so it’s a great choice if you want native app support as well.
Price: Free for up to 64 sits; $24/year for premium
AppStorm Review: Intelligently Browse RSS Feeds With NewsBlur
You Want to Host Your Own Feed Reader – Fever
You’re scared of web services shutting down, now that Google shut down Reader, and you’d rather control your feed reader yourself. Plus, you’d like something that works great, and has something that no other app has. Fever is the app for you.
Developed by Shaun Inman, the guy behind Mint stats, The Last Rocket, and so many other projects, Fever is a self-hosted web app that you buy and run on your own server. It’s simple to setup, and you can be using it just like Google Reader within minutes of purchase. Or, you can just see the top news in the Hot list, curated from the most popular news topics in your feeds today. It’s not currently being actively developed — Shaun has a lot on him right now — but it’s still a fabulous solution for your RSS reading needs, one I switched to and love using daily.
Best of all, it’s got strong app support, with a number of mobile apps on iOS and Android that work with it (including Reeder for iPhone), and Mac support with the new ReadKit 2 and the upcoming Reeder 2 for Mac.
Price: $30, plus a server or hosting account (even shared basic hosting will work)
AppStorm Review: Self-Hosted Temperature Based RSS Reader: Fever°
You Want to Do More With Your Feeds: Feed Wrangler
It’s ugly and drab, and doesn’t have the fancy features you might expect. That’s ok. Feed Wrangler is about more than that. It’s designed to be fast and clean, and it sure does that — but you won’t likely try it just for that. Dig in deeper, though, and it’s got more vision for the future power user features under the hood than most of the RSS apps. It’s got a robust API, one that’s already supported by a number of apps, from its own iOS apps to ReadKit (and soon Reeder) on the Mac, Press on Android, and Mr. Reader on the iPad, with more to come in all likelihood.
Then, it’s got a Smart Streams feature to let you make your own feeds out of your favorite topics. You can use a smart stream to find all articles that include certain keywords, or that come from specific sites. Then, you can use filters to remove all articles that include the terms you add to your filters, and integrate it with your reading later apps (Instapaper and Pocket) to automatically hide articles you’ve already saved to your reading list. Put those together, and your RSS reader can start doing some of the processing work for you, leaving you with just the best of your news organized in a way that makes sense. That’s led many to make it their RSS reader of choice, and it’s the one I’d use if I wasn’t already in love with my Fever install.
AppStorm Review: Feed Wrangler: The Feed Reader Designed Around Feeds
Now, that’s not all the Google Reader alternates, but that is the apps we think are the best out there today. These apps all bring something unique to the table, either by being almost perfectly like Google Reader or by adding new ways to process and view your feeds. And all of these work good enough that we can recommend them without reservation.
The most important thing is to get your data exported from Google Reader, pronto, and then find a new feed reader that works for you. And we’d love to hear which one you’ve chosen in the comments below!