5 Google Reader alternatives (for those still looking)


Google Reader Alternatives

Yes, we ARE still hung up on this nearly two years later

Google Reader is Dead (RSS is not)

We spend hours a day sifting through huge volumes of information, so the functionality and feature set of our RSS readers is a quality of life issue.  Google Reader was an amazing product.  It provided a seamless way to track countless keyword alerts and important news sources.  For brand monitoring purposes it was the only resource you needed to gather all of your clips.

All of us here at ITK were embarrassingly upset with the demise of and eventual closure of Reader in July 2013 – and unfortunately, we have yet to sufficiently fill that void.

This video helps capture some of our suffering during that time:

Have they any idea how much work I put in?!!

We can see how this is starting to sound a little overdramatic, but cannot stress enough how much we lost when Google Reader shut down.  Speed of delivery. Comprehensive results.  Ease of sharing across accounts.  Intuitive navigation.  She was a thing of beauty.

Note – I’m writing this post at 9:30 PM on a Saturday because,  if you couldn’t tell from that last sentence, I lack “social skills” and people find me “obsessive over weird stuff”.  But I digress…

A major component of Reader’s demise that must be mentioned was the gradual lack of support for Google’s Alerts product.  At the time, Alerts worked in hand with Reader to deliver the same results you’d find in a manual Google search. In the months leading up to Reader’s shutdown, we started to find performance issues with Alerts we had set up, including important mentions not being sent in real time, or not showing up at all.

In the years following, we’ve adjusted our brand monitoring to focus on manual searches via Google and Bing, and through careful research and regular updates, we’ve come to develop a system that ensures we’re catching any important mentions. Though we can’t fully rely on our favorite Reader alternative for comprehensive results, we like to keep an RSS reader in the mix to supplement our brand monitoring methods, and to use as our primary resource for general industry news.

We’ll discuss 5 free Reader alternatives that the ITK crew has tested first-hand, and how they compare in terms of interface, navigation, and efficiency.

We’ve subscribed to the following Google Alert with each to see which RSS reader brought in the most results. With an advanced search using multiple operators and keywords to locate coverage for executives at ride-sharing company Lyft, we should be able to get a good idea of which reader can handle more robust search parameters.

Lyft (“Logan Green” | “John Zimmer” | “Kira Wampler” | “Brian Roberts” | “Jesse McMillin” | “David Estrada” | “Ron Storn” | “Carlos Whitt”)

Netvibes

Netvibes main interface when displaying Google Alerts results

 

— In our experience, Netvibes can be painful to work with – between the janky interface and awkward navigation, we’ve had to move on in the hopes of finding something a bit more palatable.

— We’ve also found that Netvibes is slower to update their feeds

— Most importantly, it can be a real pain to manage your feeds and folders in Netvibes.

  • If you have a lengthy Google Alert in the subscription list on the left-hand side, you won’t be able to hover over the alert to see the full search terms, and will instead have to click on each alert to see the full search.
  • You’ll need to click on the Alerts one at a time to Edit or Delete them, whereas with Inoreader or Feedspot, you can hover over the Alert and right-click to make edits.

— For our Lyft Alert test, Netvibes delivered the following 4 articles and 2 reprints:

  • Business Insider, “Here’s why the president of Lyft thinks most millennials will abandon car ownership in the next five years”
  • The Huffington Post, “Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer”
  • A few reprints of The Huffington Post from Ezzco News and sNEWSi
  • Mashable, “Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer”
  • Boston Globe, “Shannon Liss-Riordan makes Silicon Valley ‘influential’ list”

Feedspot

Feedspot UI

 

Feedspot looks great – super easy to scan through, smooth scrolling, and easy to change settings. Feedspot offers recommendations based on the sources you’ve subscribed to, and the Browse Sites feature is helpful for locating both top publications and niche blog sites.

— Feedspot is currently offering a 1-year trial to their premium service Feedspot Gold if you sign up with a credit card.

— Feedspot only offers an app for Android.

— For our Lyft Alert test, Feedspot delivered the following 2 articles and 3 reprints – less than we found for Netvibes

  • A few reprints of The Huffington Post’s, ““Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer” from Ezzco News, sNEWSi, and Daily News Leaks

Feedspot did not, however, deliver the source article from The Huffington Post

  • Mashable, “Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer”
  • Boston Globe, “Shannon Liss-Riordan makes Silicon Valley ‘influential’ list”

Digg Reader

Digg Reader UI

 

— Digg Reader delivers most in terms of features – namely, the Digg Deeper option, which you can link to your Twitter account to see a feed of links that those you follow are sharing.

— Super clean interface and great navigation.  However – the option to edit feeds within your subscription without leaving the page (that you can find in Feedspot and Inoreader) is not offered.

— Digg Reader offers apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

— For our Lyft Alert test, Digg delivered the following 4 articles and 3 reprints – about the same success we had with Netvibes, with an extra (obscure) reprint

  • Business Insider, “Here’s why the president of Lyft thinks most millennials will abandon car ownership in the next five years”
  • The Huffington Post, “Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer”
  • A few reprints of The Huffington Post from Ezzco News, sNEWSi, and Daily News Leaks
  • Mashable, “Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer”
  • Boston Globe, “Shannon Liss-Riordan makes Silicon Valley ‘influential’ list.

Inoreader

Inoreader User Interface

 

Inoreader offers easy navigation, subscription management, and multiple dashboards – which can be helpful to use if you’re tracking different topics or clients and you want to keep your folders separate. Other Reader alternatives we’ve tried require a premium subscription to create additional dashboards.

— If you hover over a feed in your Subscription list, you’re given a variety of options: rename feed, delete, move or copy to multiple folders – and you can even get recommendations for similar news sources. This is a helpful way to update your feeds and folders – and makes the process easier than most other readers.

— One of my favorite features is the option to export a single folder to share with others or import to another aggregator. With other readers, we’ve only been able to export the full list of subscriptions and folders – so if you have a giant batch of folders and only need to share a few, you’ll end up deleting feeds and folders one at a time. Manually.

— Inoreader offers apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone.

— Inoreader delivered no articles for our Alert to track for Lyft executives, making clear that it may not be the best reader to handle more advanced searches.

Feedly

Feedly User Interface

 

Feedly can be a little laggy when adding feeds and making edits to your folders – especially if you have a significant collection of feeds.

— Feedly does not give you the option to edit feeds within your subscription list.

— Feedly offers apps for iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet, and Kindle.

— For our Lyft Alert test, Feedly delivered the following 6 articles and 3 reprints – the most we’ve seen among the 5 readers:

  • Business Insider, “Here’s why the president of Lyft thinks most millennials will abandon car ownership in the next five years”
  • The Huffington Post, “Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer”
  • A few reprints of The Huffington Post from Ezzco News, sNEWSi, and Daily News Leaks
  • Mashable, “Most Millennials Won’t Own A Car In 5 Years, Says Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer”
  • Boston Globe, “Shannon Liss-Riordan makes Silicon Valley ‘influential’ list”
  • Yahoo! Tech, “Tech Mix: Logan Green’s Lyft” (VIDEO)
  • New York Magazine, “Can Lyft pull an Avis?”

The Verdict – Feedly

In our experience, Inoreader delivers on user experience with a number of options to view and filter your results, and proves to be the easiest platform to maintain your feeds and folders.

However –  based on our comparisons of the 5 Readers outlined above, Feedly is most reliable in delivering timely updates and results are more comprehensive than you’d find elsewhere. Feedly lacks some of the features offered by Inoreader that make managing Alerts and RSS feeds a breeze – but if you’re looking to make the most of your Google Alerts, Feedly is the clear choice.

Inoreader may be a better option if you’re just looking for a more seamless platform to review and keep track of regular RSS feeds.