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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
Google Reader's Final Chapter 
13th-Mar-2013 07:48 pm
smoochie sunset
Google Reader will be retired on July 1st. This makes me very sad.

Google products I use as a consumer, sorted by how much my life would suck without them:

  • Search
  • Maps
  • Reader
  • GMail (I host my primary email address and forward to gmail)
  • Docs
  • Google+
  • Calendar
  • YouTube
  • Blogger (other people's blogs)
  • Chrome
  • Android

I used Reader to find the current and previous places I lived. If I didn't get hired, there was a good chance I'd have found my eventual employer via Reader. I learned about Wave via Reader while traveling in Guatemala. Reader is my main source of insight into technology, linguistics, and astronomy. Reader provides the material for around 25% of my Google+ posts. I joined Twitter only after following all the Twits I cared about got too unwieldy in Reader. If I'd been hired in Mountain View, Reader would've been on the top 5 projects I wanted to work on.

Reader is a product that respects my attention. Unlike seemingly every other social product, it keeps track of the content I've seen and doesn't show it to me again. It tells me how much is new in each source so I don't get pulled into a casino random reward trap. I can read several related posts in sequence so that I'm not suddenly context switching between programming, politics, and pictures of cats. If I'm away from the Internet for a week, I can find and read the important/really interesting stuff to catch up. I can start reading something interesting, realize I don't have time to digest it fully, and know that I can come back to it later. I can read posts with (most of) the original formatting; with images in context; with text hyperlinked.

So... anyone got suggestions for a Reader replacement? I've got several RSS feeds on my LiveJournal friends page, which is great for comics but lousy for noisy feeds like Slashdot and BoingBoing.
Minimum viable feature set:

  • Add feed by URL
  • Web-based
  • Keep track of read items, unread count on each feed
  • Ability to read each feed independently
Bonus features:
  • Android app, read items kept in sync with web
  • Mark as unread/read later/star
  • Show all items (vs. only unread)
  • Read several feeds together
  • Social sharing buttons
  • Add feed bookmarklet
  • Search

Google Reader's usage is small compared to services like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and probably even LiveJournal. But its many of its users are very devoted and tech savvy. I'd be willing to pay several bucks a month for a service like Reader. I think someone could make a viable business out of it.

14th-Mar-2013 02:35 am (UTC)
OMG! That's crazy. I use it daily, many times a day. I will be watching this to see if anyone suggests a replacement.
14th-Mar-2013 05:17 pm (UTC)
About the last line- do you think google would ever spin it off and sell it? Have they done that before with other products?

I use reader very heavily, too, and I, too, hope someone comments with a good replacement.
14th-Mar-2013 05:39 pm (UTC)
The only Google spin off I know about is SketchUp. I don't think that operation was too difficult, since it was desktop software that was mostly independent of other pieces of Google.

Something like Reader depends on lots of pieces of Google's internal infrastructure like storage systems, cluster management, monitoring, and operations. It's got too many tendrils to be sold or open-sourced all together. It's possible that pieces could be broken out and made available, but I suspect that a company interested in running a replacement would do better to build it themselves.
14th-Mar-2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
A bunch of people I know have been talking about how to replace Reader. Here are the potentially useful things I've seen:




Personally, using my LiveJournal friends list for RSS feeds works for me, but I know it isn't enough for those who use Reader heavily.
17th-Mar-2013 03:39 am (UTC)
Someone on eng-misc recommended theoldreader.com. It seems good so far. The UI is almost identical. It runs a bit slow right now, but I think all of the RSS aggregator sites are getting slammed. Their blog mentioned that their traffic has increased 7x since the cancellation.

The one negative is that they don't have a good mobile app yet, but the mobile web UI is decent and they're working on an app.
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