The main thing after trying out lots of google reader alternatives is that I have to go back and revoke a lot of permissions to my google account. So here are the ones I tried out, roughly best-to-worst (and for anyone unaware, OPML is an XML file with all your feeds on it, which you can download from google takeout):
- Feedly allows you to fiddle with enough settings to arrive at a slimmed-down interface. The import from google is very easy. J/K/M/R keyboard shortcuts work like google reader, they have a mobile version, and it moves pretty fast. Cons: you have to install a browser extension for some reason. It’s still using google as a backend (hence the easy import), but while they say they’ve built their own google reader API backend, I’m not too confident they will transition seamlessly to their own service.
- The Old Reader looks like the best so far in terms of speed and interface. Cons: I uploaded my GR OPML file like a week ago and I’m still in the import queue. No mobile version.
- BazQux looks a ton like an older version of google reader. Their big feature is including comments along with the articles in your feed. Which can be vaguely cool in some situations. Like for reddit, it’s kinda neat. A look at how /r/gatech appears in BazQux here, if anyone cares. And it looks like you can turn it off in feeds you don’t want it in. Cons: it’s slow at first while crawling articles for comments, after 30 days it’s $9 a year for more than 15 feeds, and I’m not clear if it uses the google reader backend. Their blog hasn’t said anything about the demise of GR, so it’s possible they’re scrambling to figure out what to do. Also, there appears to be no mobile version. The one possibly-neat feature isn’t worth $9 a year compared to free alternatives that otherwise seem better, so Pass.
- Newsblur has the admittedly cool feature where you read the articles on the actual site. Like if you follow Filmdrunk and it has three unread items, clicking on that feed will actually load Filmdrunk’s front page in a frame. As you scroll down, it marks the articles read that you’ve scrolled past. Cons: this means you have to wait to load a site pretty much constantly. That makes it really slow. Pass.
- Bloglines has some nostalgia as the first RSS reader I used, which revolutionized my time-wasting. Cons: it used to be simple and fast, now it’s not. Pass.
- Netvibes appears to be designed to give me a snapshot of what’s going on, rather than a tool for reading everything in my feeds. Pass.
- FeedReader looked like something from 2002, and the site crashed multiple times (with a message from their cloud service that it was offline and giving me a cached version) while I was trying to poke around with it. Pass.
- Goodnoows looked like a thing not for me, but I looked up a review which began “If you’d like your feed reader to have a little more style and flash to it…” and also said no OPML support for importing feeds, so Pass without even logging in.
- Rolio lost me at asking for my birth year and gender. But I’m not sure they even do OPML imports, so migration could be a pain in the ass. Pass.
I’m probably going to keep using Google Reader for the time being, but in June I’ll check back on feedly, the old reader, and anything new that’s popped up in the meantime. People have also suggested hosting your own (tt-rss seems to be the popular one), but I’m not interested in maintaining a webserver just for feeds.
Of interest to probably no one but me, I discovered that you can get a feed for a hash tag on twitter. Clicking on, for example, the #CoverThemeGame tag brings you to http://twitter.com/search?q=%23CoverThemeGame. Change “twitter.com/search?” to “search.twitter.com/search.atom?” and you get http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=%23CoverThemeGame, which you can then subscribe to in your reader of choice.
The cover theme game is impossibly hard, but I’m determined to one day know the answer to one.