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Alternatives to Google Reader

(FILES)This January 11, 2011 screen imageshows the Google logo in Washington,DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Google Reader is headed to the tech graveyard, with Google announcing that it will shut down the RSS service on July 1. The justification is that Google wants to continue its path to put more resources into fewer products — or, as Larry Page put it in 2011 “more wood behind fewer arrows.”

The company regularly kills off some of its projects, but its decision to end Reader has really struck a chord. While it may have been popular to declare RSS is “dead” for the past few years, the outcry around the Reader decision shows that there are still plenty of people who use it.

There are some alternatives for Google Reader fans, who should start their process by heading to their Google Reader preferences and finding the “Import/Export” tab. All your data on Reader can be exported through Google’s “Takeout” feature.

Feedly: Feedly offers a more visual version of the RSS reader, in a more magazine-like layout. Users can sync Feedly with Google Reader in one click — if you need an intermediate step — or to add feeds directly to the site.

Feedly’s magazine-like layout means that it’s harder to take in quite so many headlines at a glance, but it’s a good and attractive alternative.

The Old Reader: Started by Google Reader exiles who were upset when Google changed Reader’s social and sharing features last year, The Old Reader is a comforting peek back into the past of Google Reader. For those who want almost exactly the same experience they had in Google Reader’s heyday, The Old Reader is probably your best alternative.

The Old Reader’s major drawback, however, is that it doesn’t have a mobile version. Its Web site also appears to be having some trouble handling the flood of interest it’s getting today from Reader fans looking for a backup, so you may have to be patient if you want to make a new account.

Flipboard: Flipboard was quick to jump on the news of Reader’s demise, saying that it has RSS “covered,” and that users can import their feeds from Google Reader straight into their service. Flipboard, too, doesn’t let you scan through headlines quite as quickly as the text-focused layout of Google Reader, but it’s good way to get a glance at content that you follow on a regular basis.

Twitter: Yes, Twitter. Smart use of Twitter’s list function gives you a fairly good RSS-like experience, if you subscribe to reporters or news sites you already follow on RSS. Of course, this method comes with the downside that your sources are a bit more limited — namely to people or businesses with Twitter accounts, or the content people you follow post from elsewhere on the Web.

Digg (maybe?): In a moment of very fortuitous timing, rumors are circulating that Digg is ready to release its own version of a reader.

Digg’s been due for a major makeover for months. In May, SocialCode, a social media advertising firm and subsidiary of The Washington Post Co., hired a several engineering employees from Digg. What remained of the company was purchased by Betaworks in July. Betaworks, which also owns the social news service, said that it would making Digg back into a startup.

The source of the chatter is Reuters reporter Anthony De Rosa who posted on this Facebook page that Digg will be releasing a new reader with “all the features of Google Reader plus some additional ones.”

Related stories:

Google axes Reader and Google Voice for Blackberry

Google Reader, redesigned with Google+ sharing

Occupy Google Reader: Changes to the RSS feed irk the ‘sharebros’

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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