Old Reader Shuts Its Doors

This seems like good evidence to support the “pay for services you use” theory.

Culture Internet

Chris Gonzales’s Post-Google RSS Setup

As I have [explained before](, my post-Google Reader setup is very similar to Chris’s. Personally, I think he should give [Mr. Reader](*bqlTuiXSo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&[^fn1] a shot, especially since there is no estimate of when we might see a new version of Reeder. Also, after reading his take on [ReadKit](*bqlTuiXSo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&

> As I’ve mentioned in the past, I don’t own a Mac (yet). But if I did, I’d probably be using ReadKit. It’s not only an RSS reader that supports Feed Wrangler, but it can also tie into your Instapaper queue and other services.

> Items can even be moved back-and-forth between RSS and “read later” services within the app, which is really cool to me.

I think he will be disappointed in the way ReadKit integrates with sharing services. The lack of easy sharing for Feed Wrangler items without some kind of “drag and drop” transfer, made ReadKit pretty useable for me.

[^fn1]: Affiliate Link (as are all App Store links in this post)


Dr. Drang on RSS

> The issue of feature mismatch between a feed reading app and a syncing service is the subject of this post by Brent Simmons. He makes a good argument in favor of having the app and the service tightly integrated and suggests that that might be why Black Pixel is taking so long to add syncing to NetNewsWire. I think Brent’s paternal feelings toward NNW are coloring his judgement. Although having its own customized sync service makes sense in the long run, Black Pixel should have included syncing with one or more of the commonly available services as an interim measure. By having no syncing at all in NNW 4, they’ve made their product irrelevant to the many users who read feeds on two or more devices and will not use a reader that doesn’t sync. They’re going to have to come up with something extremely compelling to get those users to pay attention again.

I completely agree. Maybe Black Pixel will beat everyone else to the Mac with an app that syncs with various RSS service. It not, however, I doubt I will ever give them a second thought.

As an aside, my favorite paragraph from Dr. Drang’s article is actually:

> Although the Google Reader site is shut down, the Google Feedfetcher process is still going strong, valiantly visiting sites and grabbing their feeds for no apparent purpose. My site logs show it visiting here hundreds of times today, faithfully doing its job like WALL•E. Will someone at Google remember to flip its switch off?

Apps Culture Internet

Robert Agcaoli’s RSS Showdown

Even though Google Reader shut down yesterday, I know a lot of people are still looking for an alternative to use. This breakdown from Robert Agcaoli is especially helpful for those who are concerned about how the solutions’ Web UI works.

Apps Culture Internet

Reeder 3.2 Brings Feedly, Feed Wrangler Sync

An updated version of Reeder is out that includes sync with [Feed Wrangler]( Unfortunately, this update does not support Smart Streams[^fn1].

[^fn1]: Basically, this means I might use it sometimes, but that the native Feed Wrangler iOS app will be the primary way I read RSS feeds on my iPhone until the new version of Reeder comes along

Culture Internet

Various Options for Backing Up Your Google Reader Subscriptions

Alternatives to using *Google Takeout* to backup your Google Reader data. Mihai Parparita’s [*reader_archive* tool]( sounds like the most comprehensive method of extraction.

Culture Internet

Marco Arment on the Post-Google Reader RSS Syncing

I agree with Marco on this:

> In the absence of major exclusive features or strong social lock-in, if you make a feed reader today, it better support multiple sync services. Conversely, if you’re making a service, it better have an API for third-party clients.

I hope Black Pixel is not seriously considering only using their backend[^fn1], it would mean a true “end of an era” for a widely used Mac app[^fn2].

[^fn1]: In fact, it would seem to me that they could end up making more money, with less headache, but just making clients for Mac and iOS that sync to various other services.

[^fn2]: I am making the assumption that people will not be content to just use Black Pixel’s ecosystem on everything.

Culture Internet

The One Thing Google Reader Users Should Do Today

Please remember to backup your Google Reader data before the service shuts down on Monday.

Comics Internet

Dr. Drang on Google Reader Replacements

Speaking of additional articles about Google Reader replacements, Dr. Drang gives [his take on the various options](, including an in-depth discussion about [Feed Wrangler](

Apps Internet

TidBITS on The State of Google Reader Replacements

Another good summary of the various Google Reader replacement options.

Culture Internet Software

Shawn Blanc on Feed Wrangler’s Smart Streams

I described the power of Smart Streams in my [breakdown of Google Reader replacements]( Shawn Blanc [goes into even more detail](, including explaining how to set them up.

Culture Internet Productivity

Picking a Google Reader Replacement

I have previously alluded to my preferred RSS Google Reader replacement[1] when the service shuts down on July 1st[2], but I have not given a full explanation of the reasoning behind my choice. Relatedly, I feel that simply explaining my selection does not adequately reflect the lack of a “one size fits all” Google Reader replacement. Therefore, I decided to make a few additional recommendations. Here are (1) my recommendations for various Google Reader replacements, and (2) links to a few other recommendations that I have seen:[3]

My Recommendations[4]

For the Person who Wants a Simple, One-Stop, Nice Looking RSS Solution – Feedly

Feedly is a complete, free[5] , RSS-syncing ecosystem that includes a website and a universal iOS App. It was one of the first places to announce it would make a replacement for Google Reader syncing backend and it has delivered on that claim. The process to import your feeds from Google Reader to the new Feedly cloud is quite painless, and you can move from Google Reader to Feedly in only a couple of minutes.

I have used the Feedly iOS apps a decent amount and find them to be both pleasing to look at and quite fast. Unfortunately, they do not offer the level of feed organization and overall customization that I want in my RSS syncing solution. This problem could be rendered moot in the near future, however, since Feedly appears to be gaining support as a backend solution for a number of other apps.

Ultimately, if you are someone who likes to quickly scan through RSS feeds, you do not want to fiddle or tinker with how your feeds are organized or structured, and you do want a simple, free, one-stop solution as your Google Reader replacement, then you should give Feedly a shot.

For the Person who Wants as Google Reader-like a Solution as Possible – Newsblur

After reading Gabe Weatherhead’s review of Newsblur a little over a month ago, I was pretty it was going to be the solution for RSS syncing in the post-Google Reader world. Unfortunately, not too long after Gabe’s review, news started to come out that Newsblur’s API might not work well with certain types of 3rd party clients. Thankfully, Newsblur’s web and iOS versions might make such 3rd party clients unnecessary.

Newsblur offers–what I feel–is the most Google Reader-like ecosystem of web and iOS apps. Setting up an account on the website is pretty straightforward and you can take advantage of the same direct-import from Google Reader that a lot of other solutions have. Much like Feedly, this import keeps all of your folders, tags, etc… and presents you with a list of feeds that looks almost exactly like you had in Google Reader. As a bonus, Newsblur adds the ability to “fix” broken feeds by either making a suggestion for the correct “new” feed itself or allowing you to supply an updated feed yourself.

Using Newsblur feels like what using Google Reader should have felt like at the end[6]. It is fast, it provides robust sharing options, and it also includes a few additional “power user features,” such as its “Intelligence” options, that allow you to help go through your feeds.

Unlike Feedly, Newsblur is a pay service. Though you can use it for free for up to 64 feeds, if you settle on using it as your primary RSS solution, you would be wise to pay the $24 a year to help maintain the service.

When trying to determine which RSS syncing solution to recommend to my fiancé[7], Newsblur seemed perfect. It took all of 5 minutes to import her existing Google Reader account into Newsblur, she spent about 20 minutes tweaking and adjusting her feeds to fit a new folder structure she wanted, and she has not looked back since. I have probably asked her 10 or 15 times if Newsblur is working out okay, and always she tells me that she likes it. Her approval simply confirms what I originally thought when I saw Newblur: this is what Google Reader should have developed into.

For the Person who Wants to Fiddle with His or Her Feeds, Streams, and even Write Scripts and Programs against an API – Feed Wrangler

Now it is time to talk about my choice for a RSS syncing solution. I will start off by admitting that Feed Wrangler is not for everyone. The website is very minimal, some people really cannot stand the look of the iOS app, and other people miss the concept of folders. I think all of those are valid criticisms, however, they are not important to me. What is important to me is a robust, easy to use API that I can write scripts and programs against to help do things like update this blog. For example, I used to use an IFTTT recipe to populate “draft” posts based on items I starred in Google Reader. It worked okay, but it never really worked exactly the way I wanted it to. Now, with the Feed Wrangler’s API, I will be to sit down over a weekend and create a system that does exactly what I want it to do. That prospect alone makes me excited to be using Feed Wrangler as my RSS solution.

Although the API is one of the major reasons I selected Feed Wrangler, the existing service stands well on its own. Like Feedly and Newsblur, Feed Wrangler allows for direct import of your Google Reader data. Unlike with those other services, however, Feed Wrangler does not import any information related to folders or tags. This can be annoying, but it makes sense once you realize that Feed Wrangler does not have folders. UPDATE: Feed Wrangler now creates Smart Streams from Google Reader tags. Instead, Feed Wrangler uses something it calls “Smart Streams,” which are streams based on a combination of search terms and selected feeds. For example, I can create a Smart Stream for the Red Sox that will search all of my feeds for stories that mention the Red Sox without having specify which of my feeds are Red Sox-related. This saves me setup time and it also allows my Red Sox stream to include Red Sox-related stories from sites other than just the ones I would have put in a Red Sox folder. Smart Streams can also be created by selecting specific feeds to include in the stream. So, if I want a “comics” stream based on certain feeds, I can simply not use any search terms, but include only my comics-related subscriptions when populating the stream. Essentially, this type of feed-based Smart Stream is the same as if you put all your comics subscriptions into a folder.

One of the benefits I have found to using Smart Streams over folders is that feeds can be in multiple Smart Streams at once. This allows me to build a priority hierarchy of feeds that I want to read. For example, I might have 3 sites that are at my top most priority level. I put these 3 feeds in a Smart Stream that I check very frequently. On the next level down, I might have those 3 feeds plus 15 additional feeds that I really like to check, but that I don’t care if I see their updates until a few hours after they post. I put those 18 feeds [8] into another Smart Stream. Now, when I have 10 minutes to go through RSS items, I check that second level smart stream. In addition to putting the feeds into the priority hierarchy, I can also put them into various subject matter groupings. That means when I really want to read comics-related news, I can just go to the comics Smart Stream and see only what I want to read.

Since there are no RSS reading Mac apps that support Feed Wrangler at this point[9], I use the Feed Wrangler website in a Fluid instance for Mac reading. It is not an ideal setup but it is not terrible either. Feed Wrangler’s hot key support, including easily jumping to the next item and easily adding an item to Pocket,[10] makes navigation pretty simple. The one negative with the Feed Wrangler / Pocket integration is that the Feed Wrangler website and Feed Wrangler iOS appliations can only support one read-it-later / tagging service a time.[11]. Of course, this issue will be probably be moot once some Mac RSS apps are updated to include Feed Wrangler support.[12]

On the iPad, I have been using the recently updated Mr. Reader[13] to sync with Feed Wrangler. Mr. Reader has been widely written about and was one of the top apps for using Google Reader on the iPad. Using it with its new Feed Wrangler support was a no-brainer.

Choosing the preferred Feed Wrangler experience on the iPhone is a little trickier. [14] There is obviously the Feed Wrangler iOS App. As you might expect, it works fairly well with the Feed Wrangler service, but, it is not exactly Letterpress when it comes to aesthetics. Reeder has announced that there is a version of Reeder that supports Feed Wrangler submitted to the App Store, however, that version will not support Smart Streams. The lack of Smart Stream support severely limits Feed Wrangler’s benefits and prevents Reeder from being a complete solution for reading RSS feeds on the iPhone. One interesting choice for Feed Wrangler on iOS is Slow Feeds, which was also just updated. Like Reeder, it does not support Smart Streams, but it does have interesting functionality to help it identify infrequently updated feeds and hot links. It might not be my favorite way to access Feed Wrangler on iOS, but it is interesting.

Feed Wrangler is a paid service. It costs $19 a year, without a free option. Based on recent interviews with Feed Wrangler’s developer, David Smith, there are already enough subscribers to make Feed Wrangler something worth his continued investment. After using it for a couple of months, I definitely think it is worth the subscription fee.

I have written a lot about Feed Wrangler, but I have not directly addressed the question: who is this service for? As you can imagine, it is not exactly an easy answer. Obviously, anyone who has read this section and thought “yes, that sounds awesome”, would be a prime candidate to try out Feed Wrangler. Also, someone who wants to fiddle or tinker with their feeds and Smart Streams would be someone who should give Feed Wrangler a shot[15]. In other words, a news / RSS geek will probably like Feed Wrangler, but I cannot really nail it down better than that.

Other Takes


There has been a lot written and said about Google Reader’s demise. In order to help you make a more informed decision, I have also listed a few other resources you can take a look at:

Articles on RSS Replacements

  • As I mentioned above, Gabe Weatherhead at Macdrifter picks Newsblur as his preferred Google reader replacement. His reasoning is similar to why I selected it in my For the Person who Wants as Google Reader-like a Solution as Possible section above. He also includes, however, some discussion about Newsblur’s customizable “Intelligence” training features. Gabe has used these Intelligence features as a way to get easy access to the stories he is most interested in.

  • Lex Friedman, writing for Macworld, is apparently going to use Feedbin to sync behind the scenes on iPad and iPhone, and then use a Fluid instance of the Feedbin web interface on his Mac.[16] It similar to what I am doing with Feed Wrangler, but he will be using Feedbin instead.[17]

  • Richard Devine at iMore gives a high level summary of various RSS syncing options. Devine’s article is mostly good for links, but does not really provide much insight into which service might be best for you.

Podcasts on RSS Replacements

  • In the latest episode of Mac Power Users, David Sparks and Katie Floyd take an extensive look at the available RSS syncing solutions. It appears that David has selected Feed Wrangler as his preferred replacement, but I believe Katie still has not committed to a solution.

  • Shawn Blanc, in his Shawn Today podcast[18], mentions that he is using Feed Wrangler. He points out that other services are essentially Google Reader clones, while Feed Wrangler offers new features–such as Smart Streams–that help tame RSS feeds. His two negatives for Feed Wrangler are that (1) the website is kind of ugly and (2) it is not particularly speedy.

  • On their Finer Things In … podcast, David Chartier and John Morrison discuss–generally–the state of RSS readers. They mention some of the newer bread of RSS readers such as Pulse and Zite, but do not specifically make a recommendation. Ultimately, I think they are more concerned with some of the potential social aspects of news reading than I am.

  1. I am not trying to hide the ball here. I think I have made it fairly clear that I am using Feed Wrangler as my Google Reader replacement.  ↩

  2. Only a few days away…eeek!!!  ↩

  3. One thing that you should do , regardless of which Google Reader replacement service you choose, is to export your Google Reader data before Google Reader shuts down.  ↩

  4. A couple of notes about my recommendations: (1) I ignore Fever in this article–even though I use Fever personally for some things–because the self-hosted nature of the application adds a little more complexity than I feel comfortable recommending; and (2) I have no experience with Bloglovin, a RSS solution that features a Pinterest / Tumblr-like view of various blogs, since that style of reader does not appeal to me at all.  ↩

  5. Being free can be–depending on your point of view–either a positive or negative. Those who want a free service to replace the free Google Reader, probably view it as a positive. Those who think that Google Reader shut down because it was not making any money probably view it as a negative. Personally, I would rather support a service in hopes of it staying around long term.  ↩

  6. If they had updated it in the last 5 years.  ↩

  7. My fiancé is an avid user of Google Reader and Tumblr, but is not a techie who wants to spend a lot of time tinkering with her feeds. She does want to be able to easily share things to Pocket and Pinboard, but does not necessarily want to write a program on her own to do stuff with her starred items.  ↩

  8. The 3 from the “Top Rated” smart stream, plus the 15 additional feeds.  ↩

  9. ReadKit just received an update today that adds Feed Wrangler support, but Readkit is not an RSS reading app, it’s a reading app. There is a difference, particularly in the lack of ability to share items from ReadKit easily with services like Pinboard or Pocket.  ↩

  10. After Marco sold Instapaper, I moved from Instapaper to Pocket for my “reader it later” needs. Other than the sale, the major catalyst was the IFTTT integration that Pocket offers. It is far superior to what Instapaper provides.  ↩

  11. That means that if I have Feed Wrangler setup to send things to Pocket and I want to send something to Pinboard or Readbility, I have to open that item in Safari and send the item from there.  ↩

  12. I’m looking at you, Reeder.  ↩

  13. Affiliate Link (as other other paid app links in this story.)  ↩

  14. By “trickier,” I mean that there really is no single app to use with Feed Wrangler on iOS by itself. Instead, I use a little of all the apps mentioned in the paragraph. I anticipate having to do that until Reeder gets an updated version (or something else comes along and knocks RSS on iOS out of the park.)  ↩

  15. I admit to having spent hours upon hours getting my Feed Wrangler account setup just right.  ↩

  16. As I explained above, the Fluid instance strategy is what I am doing about 80% of the time with Feed Wrangler  ↩

  17. A couple of quick notes about this piece: (1) Lex is extremely dismissive of Feed Wrangler, which goes against what a lot of people seem to think, and (2) he hardly gives any mention of Newsblur. As a result these two things, I have a hard time really taking his recommendations very seriously.  ↩

  18. No link because it is a member’s only podcast.  ↩

Apps Internet Software

All Versions of Reeder to Be Updated, but not Before July 1st

I am glad that Reeder for iPhone has joined Reeder for iPad and Mac in the “getting a major new update” camp.[^fn1] I am disappointed to learn, however, that those updates will not be available until after the Google Reader shutdown. On the bright side, I figured this would happen and have been setting things up Feed Wrangler-centric and Reeder-less workflow for a few weeks now.

[^fn1]: Especially since the first cut of Feed Wrangler support will apparently not include Smart Streams.

Culture Internet

IOS Apps for Fever

One of the potential replacements for Google Reader is Shaun Inman’s [Fever]( Until recently, the biggest knock on Fever[^fn1] was that there was no good iPad interface for it. That is no longer the case:

* [Sunstroke](*bqlTuiXSo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&[^fn2], the first iOS app for Fever, and just updated.[^fn3]

* [Ashes](*bqlTuiXSo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&, my preferred Fever iOS client.

* [Mr. Reader](*bqlTuiXSo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&, just added sync with Fever.

I cannot imagine this would have happened if Google Reader was not shutting down in a few days.

[^fn1]: Other than the fact you need to have a server to install it on.

[^fn2]: Affiliate Link, as are the other app links in this post.

[^fn3]: Gabe at MacDrifter says that [Sunstroke is by far the best way to read Fever on iOS.]( I disagree. I find Sunstroke’s sync time–which I would probably have to measure in minutes instead of seconds–to be unbearable.

Culture Internet

PSA: Back up your Google Reader account before July 1, 2013 | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Good tip from the guys at *TUAW*. I did it for my account and my fiancé’s last night.

Apps Culture Internet

Mr. Reader 2.0 for iOS Now Available with Google Reader Alternatives

One of the most popular RSS readers for iOS, [Mr. Reader](*bqlTuiXSo&offerid=146261&type=3&subid=0&tmpid=1826&[^f1319], has just been updated to sync with a variety of Google Reader alternatives, including:

* Feed Wrangler[^fn1]

* Fever

* Feedbin

* Feedly

* FeedHQ

* BazQuz Reader

Mr. Reader 2.0 appears to be a free upgrade for existing users, and the developers have [posted a FAQ on their website]( that gives detail on some of the changes.

[^f1319]: Affiliate Link (as is the link post.)

[^fn1]: My choice to replace Google Reader.


Not Everyone is Pleased with Paid Google Reader Alternatives

For example, Jamie Zawinski:

> Once Google inevitably fucked them all, Reeder, instead of doing the obvious thing and storing its state on Dropbox, has decided to cozy up with some new Google Reader clone web site, that you have to pay for, and, oh, sync only works on the iPhone version, not Mac or iPad. Wha? Is there anyone in the world who needs to sync their feeds between two different phones? I kind of doubt it.

Well, okay then.

Apps Culture

Picking a Google Reader Alternative

As July 1st approaches, and the prospect of Google Reader going dark looms, I have started to more actively explore the available Google Reader alternatives[1].

Last week, when Gabe Weatherhead posted his NewsBlur Review, I was optimistic that my work in searching for a Google Reader replacement was complete. Unfortunately, a subsequent blog post by the developers of Mr. Reader[2] pointed out some flaws in NewsBlur’s API and caused me to shy away from naming NewsBlur as the prohibitive favorite in the RSS syncing space.[3].

Then, on Monday, news broke that popular iOS RSS Readers Reeder and Mr. Reader will be supporting Feed Wranger[4], the interesting new RSS syncing solution from developer David Smith. Since Feed Wrangler was my favorite of the new RSS syncing alternatives, I am quite pleased.[5]. If I can take advantage of the functionality that is built into my favorite iOS RSS Apps, while leveraging David Smith’s excellent Feed Wrangler backend, I think I am going to really enjoy the post-Google Reader world.

  1. For those looking for a more comprehensive look at the state of Google Reader alternatives, I suggest a recent post by Gabe at MacDrifter on the Great RSS Infrastructure Race of 2013 and a full listing of Google Reader alternatives compiled by Hrishi Mittal  ↩

  2. Affiliate Link (as are all App Store Links in this post).  ↩

  3. I also decided I would not try Dr. Drang’s approach of attempting create a RSS syncing system with email and IMAP.  ↩

  4. There is currently no timetable for when Reeder will be updated to include Feed Wrangler integration. I suspect it be be after Google Reader is turned off. On the other hand, the post on the Mr. Reader Blog indicates that the Mr. Reader update will be available before Google Reader goes dark on July 1st, 2013.  ↩

  5. Shawn Blanc has also said that Feed Wrangler is his favorite new service](  ↩

Culture Internet

Mr. Reader says not all RSS APIs are Created Equal

> Just a few words about the APIs of some Google Reader alternatives and why they cannot be used with Mr. Reader.

> This covers – at the time of writing – the APIs of Tiny Tiny RSS, CommaFeed, NewsBlur and others.

Rut roh. I thought [NewsBlur]( was emerging as the favorite in the Google Reader replacement race, but, if the developers behind Mr. Reader cannot make use of its API, maybe that declaration was a little premature.

Based on the criteria listed in this article, it does appear that the [Feed Wrangler API]( might have all the things necessary for Mr. Reader to integrate with it. For some reason, I still think that Feed Wrangler has the potential to emerge as the predominant Google Reader replacement when all of the proverbial dust settles.