I’d originally planned this to be published a few days ago and to be much more comprehensive on what I chose to replace Google Reader and how I’d arrived at that decision. Simply put, life, and a failed hard drive, got in the way. So instead here’s the shorter version.
I’ve used Google Reader for a long time, first to sync, and then as my main reader, then again to sync. And I was not happy to see it go away, and so soon after the announcement, but expected that several alternatives would appear to try to fill the void. They have. More than twenty are listed on ReplaceReader, a site listing all the alternatives. Some existed before the announcement, but have either arrived or been reinvigorated afterward.
Google Reader won because it was frankly better than the alternatives when it came out. There were other services that synced news, but frankly they didn’t work as well. I know because my primary method at the time was a series of batch files that copied my sync state to and from a USB thumb drive.
From the start I planned to wait until about mid June to really begin testing alternatives. I’d play with a few before then, but I expected a couple of months would be needed for the new candidates to arrive. An early month vacation that wasn’t quite as restful as expected had me starting a bit earlier, but I really didn’t make my final choice until earlier this week.
I’m currently using NewsBlur. It was the first alternative I tried and the one I kept coming back to. Overall it feels the most polished web version at this point and the native iOS apps work well. In addition it feels the most stable and reliable as it was around before the shutdown announcement. The intelligent features for news feeds I’m still playing with, but look promising so far.
The other service I’m keeping an eye on is Feed Wrangler. It still feels just a bit too rough for me to use daily, but it might be the one that I’ll be using six months from now. The flexibility of the smart streams could be a wonderful way to manage the heavier traffic sites I follow while highlighting what I want to read.
Overall none of the programs really seem to completely replicate Google Reader. There are a lot of new programs coming out, many in just the last few days, and this is changing quickly. I expect many of them won’t be around a year from now. What I’d look for now is what works best for you and make sure you have a way to export your data so there’s a way out if your chosen service closes down in the future.