I know free services can go by the wayside from time to time, but Google made a very strange decision today. On July, Reader will be shutting down. We’ve got three months to find an alternative that works just as well, and I’m wondering if we’ll just have to settle for a knock-off clone.
The blurb in the spring cleaning post reads:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
What’s great about this, is that one of two things is true: 1) They’ve gravely underestimated the userbase (which is unlikely because it’s fucking Google), or 2) the diminishing userbase is so large that it can simultaneously rape the servers of the main five comparative services so I can’t test drive any of them to see where I’m going to wind up. Yeah, I know it’s the first day the news is out there, and the traffic will subside, it’s just an overall annoying inconvenience to make this change.
I’ve curated a list of feeds that caters to my interests, ranging from local news, to thirteen different baseball-related feeds, to friend’s blogs, to new music releases on Bandcamp. It’s more than just a really streamlined interface through which I can browse and read my aggregated feeds, though. It’s an entire API for syncing that data across five different devices that I use throughout the day, and that’s the crucial part I’ll be missing.
At a first glance, the Reader interface is scarce; it lacks large gradiated buttons and gloss. It’s dependent upon the feed, and if the author includes images of course, but there’s a lot of text in every view. There’s no unnecessary animations as you flip between each article… There’s no blurry images because its trying to stretch thumbnails to make magazine style layouts… It’s focused purely on the full content of each feed’s data, and it’s what I’m trying desperately to find in its replacement.
The question I’m left with is, “Why do I need to find a replacement to begin with?” I’m assuming the service requires little to no maintenance, and it’s a solid data collection utility for Google. Is this part of a shift to centralize social interactions on every level on G+? Good luck with that, bros. There’s no less than three apps on my phone and tablet that will become completely useless without the Reader API, and one desktop app is gone too. Oh well, guess we’ll have to suck it up and move on. Good thing Brazil and Pakistan still have access to Orkut, though!
I’m probably a lightweight in comparison to others, but here’s the basic stats from my Reader:
From your 58 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,392 items, clicked 328 items, starred 28 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since October 16, 2008 you have read a total of 49,273items.