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Life after Google Reader

Many of us awoke to news that our beloved Google Reader was shutting down. For those of us that use it, we use it daily (sometimes multiple times daily), and so this news was devastating.

Luckily, there are options out there that, it turns out, are even better (not to mention easier on the eyes) to begin with. I myself am flirting with two different services. I figure I’ll give them both a few weeks of my attention so that by July 1st (the official death date for Reader) I’ll be settled in and comfortable with my new beau. It’s like the Bachelorette of RSS readers. Will you accept this rose?

(Note that I’ll continue to update this post as I discover more about each service, but these are just my early observations after a day of using them).


Feedly

I’d already been using the Feedly app for my iPad, which syncs up beautifully with Google Reader. I was excited to discover they also have a web interface. Read more about it on the Feedly blog.

Pros:

  • Super easy to convert (just sync with Google Reader)
  • Gorgeous magazine-like interface
  • Multiple layout and theme/color options for you to customize exactly what you see
  • iOS/Android apps available
  • Lots of social media integration and sharing options

Cons:

  • Like any new thing, interface may take some time to get used to
  • No IE support (but you’re using a modern browser anyway, right?)
Feedly iPad App

iPad interface

Switching from Google Reader to Feedly

Web Interface

Converting to Feedly is incredibly easy, just sync with your existing Google Reader account. Migration is automatic and all of your folders and saved/starred posts will be preserved.

Be sure to check out these Tips for Migrating Users for suggestions on how to make your Feedly experience as Google Reader-like as possible. While I love the magazine view, there is a title view that lists just the titles of new content, much like Google Reader.

Add a Subscription in Feedly

When you install the Feedly extension in your browser (Firefox, Chrome, or Safari), you’ll start seeing the little “feedly mini” icon in the bottom right corner of the page. This makes it very easy to add new content to Feedly, simply click it and choose the top green button to preview the content in Feedly. From there you can click the Add+ button next to the blog’s title to add it to your feeds.


BlogLovin’

I’d played with BlogLovin’ briefly at one point, since I loved the fact that you could see the full site and design of the sites you follow and the blogs themselves get pageviews (something a normal RSS reader doesn’t offer unless the reader clicks through).

Pros:

  • Reading a full post directs you to the blog itself, which means the blogs get page views.
  • Clicking through lets you read a full post, great for blogs that only publish a truncated feed.
  • It also means you get to see the full blog with it’s full design in place.
  • Frame Toolbar lets you easily navigate the next new post without opening a new window.
  • Blog/follower stats show you how may followers you have.
  • It’s almost a mini social network in-and-of-itself, with the option to ‘like’ posts and view the most liked posts of the day.
  • Profile is public, so you can see exactly who follows your blog.
  • Web-based, accessible from any browser or computer with an Internet connection.
  • iPhone app available (although it wasn’t working for me this morning).

Cons:

  • Reading a full post directs you to the blog itself, so you have to wait for each blog to load.
  • Groups don’t import from Google Reader folders, have to recreate these manually. (EDIT: apparently now it does! Still no tagging functionality though).
  • Profile is public, which means people can see what blogs you follow.
  • No iPad app.
BlogLovin' Web Interface

Web Interface

BlogLovin' Frame

The BlogLovin’ Frame/toolbar

Converting to BlogLovin’ is not difficult to do, but it does involve exported your current subscription information from Google.

To import your existing subscriptions into BlogLovin:

Switching from Google Reader to BlogLovin

Visit the Google Takeout page for Reader. It will generate an archive file of your subscriptions. Click “Create Archive.”

Switching from Google Reader to BlogLovin

Once the archive file is complete, click download and save the .zip file to a folder on your desktop. Double click to unarchive the file. You should end up with a folder called “your@emailaddress.com-takeout”. If you end up with an error.html file instead, repeat this process to create a new archive file and try again.

Switching from Google Reader to BlogLovin

Log in or create an account at BlogLovin’. Under Account > Settings, click the Import Blogs button. Browse and locate the takeout folder. Inside that folder should be a file called “subscriptions.xml”. Select that and click upload. (Note that if you get a “this file is empty” error, just try again).

Create Groups in BlogLovin'

If you had organized your Google Reader feeds into folders (as I did), you will notice that those are no longer there. Unfortunately, you will need to recreate your folders as Groups (under Account > Following you can create new groups and sort your imported subscriptions into groups).

To add a new blog to your BlogLovin’ account, you can either add it manually under Account > Following > Add Blog, or you can use a BlogLovin’ bookmarklet. Just drag and drop the bookmarklet into your browser toolbar, then click this bookmark any time you’re visiting a new blog you want to follow. It will automatically open up a BlogLovin’ page with an option to follow that particular blog.

Switching from Google Reader to BlogLovin

BlogLovin’ also offers up some cool stats for your account (under Account > My Blog), so (if you have a blog) you can see how many people are following it on BlogLovin’. Even if you don’t use BlogLovin’ to follow your feeds, you may want to create an account and claim your blog just for this reason.


The Verdict?

Well, after writing this article and really digging in to the pros and cons of each system, I have to say, I’m digging Feedly. I really love the magazine-like design and intuitive interface, pretty color options and social media integration. The lack of a native iPad app for BlogLovin’ may have been the ultimate deciding factor for me, however, so Feedly it is!

Why yes, I do think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

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9 Responses to “Life after Google Reader”

  1. Sara — March 14, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    While I do like that BlogLovin’ gives page views and allows you to see the whole site, I think that the design, Android app, and ease of transition makes Feedly the winner for me.

    Thanks for the thorough review!

  2. Carly — March 17, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

    I use Feedly on my iPhone, and my question is: When Google Reader “goes away” will that not affect your/my Feedly account that is synced to Google Reader?

    • Lindsay replied: — March 21st, 2013 @ 8:19 am

      That’s what they say, that once you’ve synced that your information will remain in place once GR is gone for good.

  3. Ali | Gimme Some Oven — March 20, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

    Awesome post! I’m still using both and getting a feel for them, but leaning more towards Feedly. :)

  4. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — March 21, 2013 @ 8:07 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post. Of course, it’s on alot of minds right now, and it’s great to hear your opinion!

  5. Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker — March 21, 2013 @ 8:09 am

    I need to play around with these! Is Feedburner going away, too? I’m just wondering if those of us that use it to push RSS to email for subscribers will need to find an alternative for that as well.

    • Lindsay replied: — March 21st, 2013 @ 8:25 am

      Feedburner is still around, for now. I’m waiting for an official announcement, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it got canned by Google in the near future. Unfortunately there is no free replacement out there and I know the switch from free to $50+/month is not easy to stomach for many of us (myself included). I guess we can only wait and see!

  6. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — April 5, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

    A good email subscription service is MailChimp!

  7. Linda — May 20, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    Thanks for this post! I have to say, I tried both and decided to go with bloglovin because I enjoy reading posts on the actual blog (there was an option to do this in google reader which is what I was doing). However, it still has some bugs that I can’t stand, for one you end up with that bloglovin toolbar so you can’t copy/paste the link of the page or pin it. But the biggest problem for me is I can’t figure out how to subscribe to new blogs that don’t include a bloglovin’ subscribe button on their blog, do you know how? With google reader there was an option to install a “subscribe” shortcut on my toolbar so I could click it whenever I was at a site with an RSS feed it would grab it, so now I’m lost. Let me know if you have any idea because bloglovin’ is seriously lacking in the customer support!!

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