The Feed Reader That Hits the Spot: Feedspot

Everyone that used to love Google Reader is having to quickly search for a new RSS reader, now that Google Reader’s getting shut down. Many users seem to be headed for Feedly, while some, like our own Mathew Guay, have opted to set up their own servers with Fever, and a few are heading for The Old Reader. All of these services have been under duress since the¬†announcement, feverishly adding bandwidth and servers in an effort to keep pace with their new-found popularity.

Me? I honestly think I am leaning towards startup Feedspot. I have tried both Feedly and The Old Reader. Both are nice, but I can not say much beyond that. Feedspot, on the other hand, may be the app that hits the spot for me.

Grab your Data From Google Reader and Run!

The first step to moving to any other RSS platform is getting your data, known as an OPML file, out of Google Reader. For this at least, Google has been helpful. The company has set up a Takeout service that allows you to easily grab your data from Reader and other Google properties. You can grab all of your Google data from the search giant in one swipe or pick and choose the services you wish to export.

The data is exported as a XML file, which you store on your PC and then import to whatever RSS program you have chosen to move to in the wake of this.

Setup

With that of the way, you can head over to Feedspot to get started. The web-based RSS program has made it easy to import that XML file — there is a big green button on the left side of the screen that is marked “Import from other Feed Reader”. Click this and navigate to your stored XML file. The folder exported from Google has several sub-files and you will need to find the one called “Subscriptions”. That is the one you need to choose for import.

Unlike The Old Reader, the import took place almost instantly — no waiting in queue for a week. It also keeps your categories, which is a huge bonus.

When you get started, you will be prompted to follow one of the featured feeds, which the startup has apparently partnered with as part of its business model (there are no ads). These are not junk services, but sites such as National Geographic and Lifehacker. Just pick one and move on, You can always unfollow it later, but you will likely find something you are genuinely interested in here.

Get Organized

Feedspot makes it easy to organize your feeds by moving them into categories and adding and removing feeds and categories. Simply click the “Edit” button at the top of left column to get started.

You will find easy to understand options here — unfollow folder, unfollow site, rename and change folder. It is incredibly easy to change just about everything from within this page.

You will also find a traditional gear logo at the top right of your feeds page. This allow you to switch between various views, such as Sort by Recent, Sort by Oldest, View All Items, View Unread Items and switch between Expanded View and List View.

Each feed also provides the opportunity to mark one or all items as Read, or you can simply scroll through them and, like Google Reader, as each passes by it will be considered Read.

Get Social

Feedspot’s interface is rather Facebook-like. This is no doubt intentional, as the web app provides for lots of social interaction. You can follow other users and the number you are following, as well as that of those following you, is displayed at the top of the screen.

There are also share options at the bottom of every post. You can simply click “Share” to send the item your Facebook page, along with your comments on it, or you can choose one of the other available options. These include Favorite, Comment, Tweet and Email. The Favorite (star) allows you to save a particular post for later.

Clicking Friends Activity at the top of the screen will take you to a list of those you are following and display the content they have shared. You will also have the option here to “Find your Friends”. Clicking that button will whisk you off to a page that allows you to scan services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, AOL, Mail, Outlook or Hotmail to look for others who are using Feedspot. The company promises not to store your contact info or send emails without your permission. You can also send invitations from this page.

The Verdict

I have tried both Feedly and The Old Reader and found both had good and bad points. So far, I like the interface and options of Feedspot better that those other alternatives. The only issue I have encountered so far is that some feeds seem a bit slow to update, but I have had that same problem in Google Reader at times as well, so perhaps it is more RSS than the services handling it.

In the end, I am leaning towards Feedspot as my full-time replacement when Google Reader goes belly-up this coming July. I have had the opportunity to speak with one of the two developers and the company is pressing forward quickly with a good vision for future updates and mobile apps are also on the way for Android and iOS. This is my early winner in the category.