Out for a Spin: Google Reader Replacements

Two everyday girls test drive stuff for an easier, prettier life

Happy Friday! Today, Kayla and I are launching a new series where, each month, we’ll test-drive something (a product, an app, a system, etc) to find stuff that will make our lives and yours a little bit (or a lot!) easier and prettier.

This month, it’s Google Reader replacements.

I know. . . .who even wants to think about Google Reader going away forever in just a couple of weeks?

Since Kayla and I are both serious blog readers and also true lovers of Google Reader, we tried out a couple of different options each and chose our favorite.

I tried four: BlogLovin’, News Blur, Flipboard, and Feedly.

Before I tell you what I did and didn’t like about each one, let me share a little secret: I thought Google Reader was the best, but now I know better. I was just USED to Google Reader, but looking back I can see that they’d stopped adding functionality a long time ago – it wasn’t particularly fun to use, it didn’t have a great way for me to track different kinds of blogs (aka, ones I wanted to read EVERY POST from and ones that I wanted to browse when I had ten minutes before bed to just surf a bit), and it wasn’t great at interacting with my other social media.

So. . . actually, I’m not that sad to see Google Reader go away. Even if it wasn’t, I’d be switching.

Anyway, on to the four I tried:

Google Reader Alternatives - Feedly is by far the best choice

I know a lot of people love BlogLovin’, and many of you recommended it
back when I asked for suggestions. But, and I say this with love, how
can you even stand it? I find it almost completely unusable.

Two major reasons I hate it?

  1. When you use it on a computer, it turns every feed into a partial feed. I know! EVERY FEED! I have zero tolerance for partial feeds, so this makes it a complete deal killer right here. 
  2. No keyboard shortcuts. After nearly a decade of using Google Reader’s keyboard shortcuts, I cannot function with a reader that doesn’t allow them. 

I will say that the app version for use on a mobile device is quite a bit better, but still not as good as the alternatives – it’s very very basic, with not a lot of great functionality, and also kind of bland and ugly. If you love BlogLovin’, I’m very sorry to be so rude about it. And also, you are a much more patient and good person than I am.

NewsBlur is actually quite excellent (it reminds me a lot of Google Reader) and has some great features. If there was no Feedly, I would choose this one. It’s still kind of not that lovely looking

One cool feature I haven’t seen elsewhere, you can train your feeds to only pick up posts tagged certain ways or written by certain authors – so you like my recipe posts but don’t want to read all my boring book reviews? Done! You subscribe to a big blog with many contributors but only like three of them? Done!

Flipboard is really gorgeous to use, but if you read more than about a dozen blogs, I think it is just too unwieldy. Also, I only found it very usable on my iPad. On a phone, it was just too teeny and small.

Which brings us to Feedly (cue the angels singing, etc):

This is the reader. It is practically perfect. (And it’s pretty. Which matters to me).

You can mark blogs as “Must-Reads” so that if you only want to see your very favorite blog posts, there they are. If you only want to see things that are new today, you can to that too.

Want the posts to open up directly on the blog itself, rather than just a white screen (meaning you can comment from right inside the reader)? Sure thing. You can pin things right to Pinterest from the reader (if you’re on a computer).

The app versions are terrific too. Seriously, I love Feedly. It’s made blog reading fun again for me.

I think I might have to do a separate post on all the features I love about it (would anyone actually read that post?).

But this post is not meant to be a love song to Feedly. It’s just to tell you that if you’re looking for a new RSS reader, Feedly’s the one.

Go find out which one Kayla picked, and then go export all your Google Reader subscriptions to Feedly.

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  • Reply Bart June 14, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Feedly it is! Thanks for doing all the leg work. Just hope the name doesn't get me all salivating each time I just want to read a few blog posts.

  • Reply Michelle June 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I would read that post! I have made the switch to Bloglovin' and will definitely keep my blog listed there because Bloglovin' is so popular right now, but you are right! I really don't care for it and I find myself missing posts from blogs I really enjoy reading (and hate to miss any of their posts). I am definitely going to give Feedly a try. Thanks!

  • Reply Anna @ IHOD June 14, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Couldn't agree with you more! Feedly is my new bff.
    And love this series idea!

  • Reply Saskia June 14, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I actually switched from Google Reader to Feedly. Feedly on my iPad was awesome, but on my lame, old laptop (and my lame, old work computer) it just didn't work well. The Old Reader isn't ideal, but until I get a new computer that can actually handle websites like Feedly, I'm afraid it'll have to stay.

  • Reply Carrie Jo June 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I'd love the post about Feedly features. I'm using it, but I'm not as tech savvy as I should be, so I'd LOVE someone to teach me!

  • Reply Kayris June 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Downloading to my iPad as I type. I've been I'm denial about google reader going away because I've been using it for like six and a half years. Thanks for doing the research!

  • Reply ct June 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    You sold me on Feedly.

  • Reply missris June 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Please do a post about Feedly features because I am still clutching to Google Reader for dear life (I swear I'll be the last person to switch) and all I ever hear about is Feedly. I looked at it and the whole thing is too overwhelming and colorful. Phew!

  • Reply Mrs. June 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I'm a Feedly convert, but somewhat new to it. I'd love a post on just the features. (And thanks for calling out the "Must Read" tip.) Any idea on how to get the web-based layout to look as pretty as the app?

  • Reply Kate Rogge June 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    yes yes yes on the feedly features post!

  • Reply Amy June 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Yes, I would definitely read a post about Feedly.

  • Reply Diane June 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Per my daughter's advice I switched to Feedly when Google announced they were shutting down Reader. I don't make changes easily–I love Feedly. I'd love a post because I just use it bare bones.

  • Reply Erica June 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    i read this post on feedly. 🙂

    AND PARTIAL FEEDS SHOULD DIE! I hated bloglovin' for that exact same reason.

  • Reply Holly June 14, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I was already going to try Feedly first (it's so pretty!), but now I won't bother trying any of the others. Thank you!

  • Reply Amy Jo June 14, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I agree, I love Feedly, and I would absolutely love a blog post about it.

  • Reply NGS June 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    This is so helpful. I have been attempting to use The Old Reader, but it's so dang slow! I'm going to have to try Feedly. Thanks for you advice!!

  • Reply Ash June 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for this… I'm going to try Feedly too! You guys are the bomb =)

    • Reply Ash June 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      And I love the little "out for a spin" graphic. Adorable!

    • Reply Janssen June 15, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Like anything pretty on my blog, Kayla designed it.

  • Reply The Petersons June 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Do you know if Feedly works with Internet Explorer? Maybe I'm just dumb and can't figure it out!

  • Reply Kayla June 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Hmmm… I think I mentioned before that I just read blogs through the blogger dashboard (So no "Google Reader is shutting down!" panic attack for me!), but after yours and Kayla's rave reviews about Feedly I'm tempted to give it a shot. Thanks for this, and I'm looking forward to more of the "Out for a Spin" posts!

  • Reply ellen June 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I tried Bloglovin' for 3 minutes and gave up. I love Feedly.
    The end.

  • Reply JoLee June 14, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I just made the switch to Feedly this week. I didn't try anything else, so thanks for doing the research for me and confirming that I made the right choice. This posting-a-comment-without-going-to-your-blog-thing is pretty spiffy.

  • Reply Melissa Turk June 14, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I've been using Feedly. I just had it bring in everything from Google Reader and have done nothing since, so everything's Uncategorized and I just use the All tab. I've noticed I'm missing things. I'll see someone mention a post on Twitter and it won't show up under All, but if I go down to the individual blog's feed it will be there. I can't figure out why.

  • Reply Linda June 14, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    I would read that post! I registered with Feedly awhile back, but haven't used it a ton, so a blog post may save me a little time finding out the worthwhile features.

  • Reply Audrey June 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    My issue with Feedly is that it doesn't work with all browsers, and I had to download something to my computer to make it work. This makes me uncomfortable about trying to check my feed reader on, say, my parents' computer or my work computer. I like the interface and everything, but I don't like that I can't just navigate to all easy breezy from any browser on any computer. That, to me, is a bit of a dealbreaker.

    • Reply Janssen June 15, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Oh, I didn't know that! That is not the most awesome.

  • Reply J. June 15, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Bless you and thank you!

  • Reply Amanda G. Whitaker June 15, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Great info. Thanks and have a good weekend!

  • Reply Jennifer Lee June 15, 2013 at 2:25 am

    Feedly is the one I switched to and love, also. Great minds think alike. I would love to hear what your favorite features are because I'm sure you've discovered something that I haven't.

  • Reply r o y a l June 15, 2013 at 3:53 am

    I'm so glad you posted this because I've been hating bloglovin' and have been having anxiety attacks about July 1. Can't wait to convert to Feedly.

  • Reply Brenda June 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I have to say that I'm a fan of Bloglovin' – while I rarely use their actual site, I take advantage of having my favorite blogs sent via email – that way, once a day {in the morning} I can see at a glance what my favorite blogs have written about. It's easy for me to click on a link so I can read more and leave comments.

  • Reply Emily June 16, 2013 at 2:04 am

    I started using it yesterday and am loving it! Thanks for doing the reviews!

  • Reply kperantie June 16, 2013 at 5:35 am

    I'd love a post about feedly options. I'd especially love one on the iphone app because I find it nearly unusable. I'll be switching to feedly on the computer, but sticking with Feeddler on the iphone at least for now.

    I'd also love it if you can find some feature in feedly that replaces the Reader bookmarklets to go to the next thing in my feed. I use the bookmarklets in part so that I am always going to the actual blogs and they get credit for the page views, for those that use ads to actually make a living with their blogs. You said in this review that the posts can open directly in the blog itself. Does that get you the page views? If so, how do I do that?

    I'd also love a way to read the posts sorted Oldest First. Feeddler will do that on my phone, which is awesome for someone who is often behind.

    I did find a feedly bookmarklet that will allow me to subscribe to any site with just a couple of clicks, like I had for Reader.

  • Reply kimmie June 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Thank you for this post, Janssen! I've been looking for a Google Reader replacement for awhile now and haven't really found one that I like enough to keep. I tried Feedly awhile back after the initial Google announcement but didn't stick with it long enough to figure out how to use it properly. Now after reading your post, I tried it again and actually like it! the only thing that I miss is the Google Search function that Google Reader had, and I haven't found a way to search through MY feeds yet on Feedly. I know there's a search function but it like searches blogs, and not like, for that frozen Banana recipe that I remember reading about but can't remember which blog it was from.

  • Reply Sarah S. June 18, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    wow, this is very helpful. I have been using Bloglovin since before I was even blogging myself, and never really got into google reader. but now I really want to check out Feedly. Bloglovin has changed a bit since everyone is switching over to it.

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