Google Reader sucked nearly all the life and innovation out of the newsreader market, singlehandedly suffocating an entire class of apps and media consumption. One could possibly argue that Reader’s stagnation played a part in the rise of our social media hellscape, but that’s for another time. I’m glad Google Reader is gone. I think we, and especially RSS, are better off without.
Reader spawned from one of those famed “20 percent time” Google projects. Eventually, it blotted out the sun of its competition. Like many of Google’s dead products, the company struggled to shoehorn ads into Reader, so it quickly became useless. Due to this, the rise of social media, and likely other factors, Google let Reader languish. Improvements and major features slowed to a crawl, then nothing at all.
Externally, far too many of us were still high off the toxic fumes of free web services, which enabled Reader to decimate its competition and many a developer’s hopes and wireframes. Google’s lethargy strangled the market of nearly all new ideas, specialization, and sheer progress, right when social media cocooned us into filter bubbles with unprecedented force.
Reader decomposed quickly when it fell, creating nourishment, space, and potential for the market to thrive. New products and ideas planted quickly.
Some newsreaders keep it simple, others cater to power users, businesses, and teams. Some support authenticated feeds, some pay special attention to media-rich feeds like webcomics and photo blogs. Many sync with a web-hosted service, some use private iCloud sync or local storage. A variety of dedicated web services sprouted, third-party apps blossomed, and DIY options can get your hands dirty.
On this note, newsreaders are one of the few current bastions of open, interoperable standards. It is usually trivial to export all your feeds and followed sites to a file that any other reader can gobble up.
In just a quick search, I found a respectable list of options below. Most did not and could not exist in the age of Google Reader.
Whether you’re curious about news readers, in the market to switch, or want to stay informed while looking for refuge from social media, I’m sure something here can get you started.
- Reeder for iOS and Mac
- Fiery Feeds for iOS
- Newsify for iOS
- Unread for iOS
- NewsTab for iOS, Android, and the web
- Flipboard for iOS, Android, and desktop
- NetNewsWire for Mac (it’s back baby!)
- Feedreader for Windows