We're approaching the first week without Google Reader, and the world hasn't ended just yet. There have been more reviews, articles and op-ed's written about the death of the infamous news reader than the sunsetting of any other product in recent history. As far as the web's concerned, Google made a huge mistake. But in the gaping void that Google left us with, a number of better alternatives have blossomed.
I've tried more of these replacements than I'd care to admin. I'm pretty sure if I listed them all here, my credibility and mental health would be questioned. The basic river of news felt played out, and Flipboard type services feel like the future. I have a few requirements though.
- Must be web based and distraction free
- Must be secure (HTTPS)
- Must have an open API
- Must be committed to building an App Ecosystem
- Must be fast
- Must be able to import & export data today
With these things in mind, only one service fit the bill. Feedbin was released the day Google Reader announced the impending shutdown. It's incredibly basic, offering a bare bones approach to RSS consumption. I didn't jump right on the Feedbin bandwagon in part because of how basic it seems. It took a few weeks before I was committed to trying out the service and signed up.
For the first month, Feedbin was snappy and beautiful. The three pane, clean approach lends to consuming the content, not getting caught up in the fluff. As more users discovered the service, it began to slow to a crawl. In April Reeder introduced an update that would support Feedbin. By mid June the web interface was all but unusable. Loading new articles took seconds, and skimming headlines was impossible. This was going to be my last month using Feedbin before canceling my subscription.
Before my month ended though, Ben, the developer, announced a server migration and hardware upgrade. The next day I was incredibly surprised by the performance increase.
Today Feedbin is without a doubt the winner in my book. It's the most secure option I've tested, even sending the article images through CloudFront in order to properly render them securely. The app eco system is booming, with connections included in all of the top news reading apps. The new API is fast, syncing to Reeder in under 20 seconds over LTE.
Feedbin's API has been integrated into a number of gorgeous apps for both iOS and Mac. Some are for basic reading, while other add features that extend Feedbin's offering beyond the web site.
On my phone I've been using Reeder since the integration was announced four months ago. Reeder is a staple, and has been around for as long as I can remember. It's a no nonsense approach to reading your news. If you were a loyal Google Reader customer and iPhone owner before the shutdown, you're probably familiar with Reeder.
I'm also giving Slow Feeds a try. It analyzes your Feebin feeds for sites that don't update that often, sites that have heavy traffic and articles that link to the same page. This is a new approach to reading your articles that is a tad bit smarter. So far I like it. It's a universal app as well, which is always a plus.
On the iPad I'm using Mr. Reader. This is another ex-Google Reader app that has added Feedbin support. One plus to Mr. Reader, it's added Search, which is a feature missing from almost all of the Reader replacements. This is a nice plus. Aside from that it's bare bones reading with plenty of third party sharing.
On the Mac ReadKit is the go to app for the moment. Not only does it provide a fast way to read through feeds, it syncs with Pinboard and Pocket (along with a few others). This is a great way to centralize all of you're web archiving and reading mediums into one app. It also has a smart folder feature which will group articles based on criteria (a la FeedWrangler), such as contains Apple or from The Verge and Polygon. ReadKit takes a while to sync though, and is more or less unusable while the sync is taking place. I have a feeling this will be replaced with Reeder on the Mac when it's released later this year.
With the incredible app ecosystem, fast response and growing platform, I'm more pleased with my decision to switch to Feedbin each day. If you're still searching for the perfect replacement to Google Reader, take a look at Feedbin. You won't regret it.