RIP, Google Reader. So, What Now?

    July 2, 2013
    Josh Wolford

R.I.P., Google Reader – 2005-2013.

It’s better to burn out than it is to fade away, right? For many Google Reader users, this will feel like a burn out. Even though Google announced that they would be killing their 8-year-old RSS reader product way back in March and gave users nearly 4 months to migrate to another service – some Google Reader users will still feel the sting as service goes quiet.

But for Google, Reader has been fading away. In their discussion on why they were choosing to ax it, Google was brief and to the point.

“While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader.”

Were you a Google Reader user? What’s your next step? Let us know in the comments.

Of course, the announcement caused one hell of a freakout from the Google Reader devotees. Apparently, Google Reader was still popular – but not popular enough. A few months later, a News and Social Director at Google elaborated a bit more on the Reader shutdown.

“As a culture we have moved into a realm where the consumption of news is a near-constant process. Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day – replacing the old standard behaviors of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day,” said Richard Gringras.

Apparently, Google Reader was dying because news consumption is changing. Gringas also added that they were looking at “pervasive means to surface news across [Google’s] products to address each user’s interest with the right information at the right time via the most appropriate means.”

Google’s definitely not done with the news, There’s still plenty of opportunities to deliver feed-like functionality inside Google+, or selective updates via Google Now, for instance. What it feels like, however, is a push toward Google+. When Gringas says news consumption has shifted to “bits and bites,” you may immediately think Twitter. But of course, Google wants you to think Google+ as well.

And there’s some underlying architecture in Google+ that at least partially mimics a “reader” of sorts. Instead of RSS subscriptions, Google+ lets you follow the news site or blog in question. And with that “following” circle, you can see all of the most recent updates made by the blogs you follow. But it’s not the same as a true RSS reader – updates are selective. As of right now, Google+ simply cannot provide the complete stream of content that a traditional RSS reader can – in fact, no social network can.

But it’s clear that Google wishes us to move in that direction. And it’s also clear that they are 100% done with operating a basic RSS reader. Not only that, but they’re moving away from any sort of RSS in general. Along with Google Reader, Google just killed RSS alerts as well.

As a person who relied pretty heavily on these RSS alerts, here’s Chris Crum’s take. Feel his pain:

I can’t speak for all Google Reader/RSS users, but RSS alerts have long been an important part of how I find information on the web pertaining to specific topics. It’s always been a more attractive option to me than email, because I don’t really want my email inbox cluttered up with all of these alerts (I’ve been subscribed to quite a few). I had them all organized to go into specific folders in Google Reader (now Feedly), so they came up where relevant. Now, those of us who do this are going to have to rethink our entire Alerts strategy.

It’s not the end of the world. We’ll move on, just as we’re moving on from Google Reader, but damn is in inconvenient at the moment.

He’ll move on. We’ll all move on from Google Reader. Google’s eradication of all things RSS is just a pain in the ass – that’s all.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives – both services that were already there, waiting for their moment to move to the front of the line, and services that popped up in the wake of Google’s announcement.

There’s Netvibes, The Old Reader, Bloglovin’, NewsBlur, FlipBoard, Pulse (which LinkedIn is apparently buying), and Zite, just to name a few.

And Feedly, which has been a favorite for Google Reader users who have migrated early.

Then you have your new kids on the block from established names. Both AOL and Digg have launched their own readers in the past week – both currently in beta.

But Google Reader is dead. And you’re either going to have to move on to another RSS reader or abandon RSS altogether. If you’re looking to do the former, Google is giving everyone until July 15th to retrieve all of their subscription data via Google Takeout. After that, all of that data will be gone forever.

Let’s pour one out for Google Reader.

Which RSS reader have you migrated to in the wake of Google Reader’s demise? Do you think RSS still has a place in news consumption? Let us know in the comments.