I will miss Google Reader. First launch in 2004 alongside the RSS rage, it quickly became the go-to RSS feed reader due to its clean interface and easy accessibility as an web-app. Well, almost 9 years later, Google has now announced that it will be pulling the plug on Google Reader come July 2013.
Since Web 2.0 and the immense take up rate of social media, RSS has lost its place. Many have predicted on the slow but eventual demise of RSS, but nothing is more telling than Google removing support from this antiquated system. As one of the most popular RSS aggregators around, the death of Google Reader could spell doom for the RSS protocol itself, which has seen waning popularity since the rise of social sharing services. Yet, even though less frequent that before, I still use RSS feeds to acquire web updates for less popular, or less frequently visited websites. I am not sure if social media platforms like Twitter or Google+ might be able to replicate that functionality. However, it is perhaps time for a change. Reader has gone through a number of iterations, but it had not been significantly updated in a long time. The last time that Google updated the product, it built in integration for the Google+ social network and removed Reader’s own native sharing service, causing a bit of a backlash with die hard users. Google is offering users a way to export their Reader content, including lists of users that they follow and starred and liked articles. Other RSS readers such as Feedly, are also offering services to migrate Google Reader users over to their platform.
Another alternative is Rolio. Rolio (http://www.rolio.com) is an alternative to Google Reader which, in addition to RSS, also supports the integration of Facebook and Twitter into your timeline for real-time updates. Rolio also supports the importing of your Google Reader feeds. First impression is that it looks somewhat like Twitter but it might be worth a try.
Additionally, there is a rather healthy ecosystem of third party apps for mobile devices that use Google Reader to synchronize news articles. These apps will have to find another method of importing articles from the web or just fade off into the sunset when Reader meets its ultimate demise. In truth, one application that had drawn my attention away from Google Reader is another Google offering, Currents. Google Currents is a front-end digital magazine/ newspaper delivery app (with cloud sync) available to Android and iOS (no web interface yet). Google Currents can read feeds, but it wasn’t designed for that. Google has a vision attached with it: Real digital magazine/ newspaper delivery which is beyond normal feed reading!
In addition, for quick updates, there’s Google+ as well. With a large number of websites now supporting Google+, it might make sense to put your account to good use. Let’s face it, the world will continue to use Facebook for their social needs and it would be immensely difficult for Google to displace Facebook from that market. Instead, using Google+ as an aggregrator of news information might be somewhat useful instead.
Still want to keep Google Reader alive? You can try signing an online petition. A petition started by Daniel Lewis is asking the search giant to let Reader live. As of the time of writing, the petition already has over 40,000 signatures and there’s a possibility that Google might just relent.