The Best Google Reader Alternatives

Google’s decision to shut down Google Reader means you’ll need to find a new way to get your news fix. Here are our favourite alternatives.

Title image remixed from MARSIL (Shutterstock) and sspopov (Shutterstock).

Reader shutting down sucks, but no amount of complaining is going to make Google change its mind. While there aren’t any RSS alternatives that exactly replicate Reader’s features (such as starring, availability on a wide variety of platform, integration with your Google account and familiar Google keyboard shortcuts), there are other options. There’s also an obvious market gap for an enterprising developer to build a Reader clone . . .

Find A New RSS Reader

RSS is the mechanism by which Google Reader subscribes to web sites, and lets you know which articles you’ve read. (You can find more details in our Lifehacker 101 RSS guide. RSS readers fall into two broad categories: cloud-based systems and desktop readers (mobile apps usually integrate with cloud services).

Option 1: Cloud-Based News Readers

If you read your RSS feeds one more than one device, you’ll want to try a web-based RSS reader. NetVibes (pictured above) is one of the most popular web reader, offering a Google Reader-like interface as well as a snazzy iGoogle-like homepage.

NewsBlur is also a great option, with an interface that’s very similar to Google Reader (and arguably a little more polished). You create an account with either service, subscribe to your favourite sites, and read them on any computer. Both have Android and iOS apps that will sync your feeds as well.

Feedly is popular, but definitely different than Google Reader. Its interface is less traditional and a bit more “newspaper-like” but it’s very pretty. You need to download a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox to use it, but you’ll be able to sync your feeds between browsers and to Feedly’s mobile apps.

The Old Reader basically is Google Reader; the interface is practically identical. You can login right with your Google account import feeds that way, although The Old Reader claims it’s flooded at the moment and won’t let you. The downside here is that there are no apps (yet) and social integration is only available by connecting through Facebook. But it’s great as a barebones replacement for web use.

Pulse is a flashy, stylish reader that supports the use of multiple columns to organise. And it looks as stunning on your Android or iOS device as it does in your browser.

Twitter is by no means a perfect replacement, but it might be able to fill part of the hole depending on your use-case. Twitter doesn’t have an “unread” state, so it’s only good for here-and-now developements, but many outlets use Twitter as a glorified RSS feed anyway, and there’s no shortage of mobiles apps. If you’re a light RSS user and a heavy Twitter user, you might be able to work something out. Maybe. [clear]

Option 2: Desktop-Based News Readers

Your other option is to go with a desktop app. Desktop readers often offer many more features than their web-based counterparts, but with one big downside: all desktop apps currently sync with Google Reader. That means, unless the developers get it syncing with a different service, you’ll only be able to read your feeds on the machine you used to subscribe to them. Of course, Google Reader doesn’t shut down until July, so there’s enough time for developers to build alternatives, and we’ll be watching closely.

For Windows, we really like FeedDemon (pictured) for its high level of customisability. Check out our App Directory entry to read more about it and get some alternatives. Mac users should check out the beautiful, feature-packed Reeder and its alternatives. If you do most of your reading on your phone or tablet, you might try some of the Android- or iOS-based feed readers as well.

Import Your Google Reader Feeds

Once you’ve found a new RSS reader, you should import your Google Reader feeds so you don’t have to re-subscribe to everything. Check out our separate guide on how to do that.

You have until July to figure out which RSS reader you want to move to, so try a few different services out and see what you like. Hopefully, by the time July rolls around, some of the desktop apps will have new options. In the meantime, join us in the comments and share your favourite non-Google RSS reader.

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