Google Reader to close down
As part of one of its "spring cleaning" initiatives, Google has announced that it will be shuttering its popular RSS reader service Google Reader by 1 July. The news caused an outcry of surprise and anger on several social networks and a petition on Change.org for Google to keep it running has already gathered more than 60,000 signatures.
Reader engineer Alan Green says in the official Google Reader Blog that the service is being discontinued because the number of its users has recently declined and Google is shifting its development efforts to concentrate on producing fewer products. While Google Reader is a proprietary product, since its introduction in 2005 its popularity has led to a lot of standalone RSS readers being neglected, including a number of open source alternatives.
The eventual discontinuation of the Reader service was not unexpected for many observers, but it has, nonetheless, left a lot of users with the need to find a replacement for the software. Open source software developers have a big opportunity before them to fill this demand in the next three months. Readers looking for a replacement now might want to test the open source NewsBlur service which offers a similar functionality to Google Reader, including mobile applications. NewsBlur is free for up to 12 feeds and an unlimited Pro version is available from $1 a month. Currently however, the service is experiencing heavy loads and, at the time of writing, was barely usable.
Another alternative is the proprietary feedly tool which is available as a plugin for all major browsers and as apps for iOS and Android. Currently, the service is purely a frontend for Google Reader but the developers are promising a seamless transition to their own backend service and a Reader-compatible API before Google pulls the plug on its RSS reader.
The H is currently compiling a feature which will take an in-depth look at the open source alternatives to Google Reader.