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Google Reader has finally gone to dog tech heaven (or hell if you hated RSS feeds) and many of you may be noticing a big drop in RSS readers on your blog as a result.
In the meantime, many people are still scrambling to find an alternative RSS reader to keep on top of their own reading and sharing.
Sadly, several of the other Feed readers such as Reeder (my old favourite) also fell over because they relied on a direct import of Google Reader feeds. Once that went, there was a resounding silence in the app. It may revive down the road once the developer figures out a better way to host the millions of feeds but by then the customers may well have switched to an alternative.
One of the most popular initial apps that people migrated to was Feedly.
Like many, I tried it out too, after all, it’s free. However, I really hated it. The user interface is clunky, awkward and unintuitive – several key links accidentally got deleted because I swiped the wrong way!
Other problems rapidly emerged.
It didn’t sync well between the desktop and idevice versions.
The server seemed to be constantly overloaded and was down more than it was up on the iPad, meaning no feeds could be accessed at all – this is a royal pain after the fail cloud greets you every morning, making it much harder to share interesting stuff with other people:
In all fairness, a big plus was the integration with IFTTT for sharing posts but frankly, if you couldn’t access the feeds then that feature wasn’t very useful to you since there was no benefit in the form of output. Overall, Feedly wasn’t a great experience for me.
So what did I pick for reading RSS feeds?
I tried a bunch of them, including Feeddler and many others. They all had limitations or frustrations, most of them were free. Then I started looking at paid apps.
Enter Mr Reader.
It’s $3.99 on iTunes for the iPad app. The user interface is pleasant to look at and you have flexibility in choosing from different light/dark colour schemes depending on your mood and time of day. The contrast in text and background is much easier on the eye than Feedly:
Mr Reader imported my Google Reader feeds easily and without hassle. More importantly, the feeds are always there, which is crucial. You can easily add new feeds to the ones you imported – it doesn’t require a nerd brain or a PhD to operate. In fact, it’s like Google Reader on steroids.
Well, one of the things I hated about the original Google Reader was the way they made sharing to social sites tricky and deeply embedded in fiddly buttons. Systems designed by engineers do not always look nice or feel intuitive.
Mr Reader makes social sharing to various sites a breeze. I like to bookmark some links in Pinboard for reference, send some to Pocket for later reading, share others to Buffer where it spaces out interesting content for me to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn without overwhelming people with 10 links at once. It was a joy to set all of these things up and also find it easy to do! Here’s how an individual article looks when viewing in Pocket mode with nice big text and obvious arrow button to enable sharing to social media right from the article:
The other neat feature I really loved was the ability to easily search for things – in this example I was looking for some old articles that were starred in Google Reader several years ago and sure enough, Mr Reader was able to find them for me:
If you are still looking for an RSS reader or dislike the experience with Feedly, I can heartily recommend giving Mr Reader a try!
How is your experience with RSS feeds going post Google Reader?