Do you use Google Reader to read blogs? It’s a wonderful tool that automatically follows all your favorite websites and blogs and aggregates all the new entries on them, letting you read them in one place. It even lets third-party software put a cool face on the service so you can read your feeds on your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
That is, until Monday. On July 1, Google is turning the service off. Which carries implications for users of the service, but also for bloggers and website owners who never used that. More on that in a bit.
First, though, Reader users don’t need to despair because others have stepped in to pick up where Google has left off. The first step is to make sure you export your subscriptions so that you can import them into another service later, if necessary. You can do that through Google Takeout. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be okay.
But you don’t have to do that if you’re moving to another service today or tomorrow as many of the best alternatives will allow you to automatically import all your feeds, including the read/unread status of all the entries.
The most popular alternative right now seems to be Feedly, which is free to use right now. Feedly offers iOS and Android apps and even add-ons for the Chrome and Safari web browsers.
Another option is Digg Reader, a service of Digg, which is back from the dead. It’s a little bare bones right now, but it also has smartphone apps and shows promise. It too imports your Google Reader feeds automatically.
Two interesting options are Feedwrangler and Feedbin, both of which are pay services. This could mean, but isn’t a guarantee, that since the service has a model for making money the owners have more incentive to keep it going, as long as it’s profitable. The other interesting fact about these services is that while you can use them as is, they also provide back-end services like Google did, meaning your favorite third-party software could continue working if the developers switch to one of these from Google.
These aren’t the only four options, of course, but in my opinion they’re the four that stand the best chance of still standing in six months to a year.
As for the dire warning to bloggers and other website owners, The Google Reader shutdown will affect you too. A large percentage of all traffic to blogs and sites like them that post serialized content comes through Google Reader, which had created a near-monopoly on RSS reader services. And some percentage of all those people, nobody knows how many, will not get the message about Google Reader shutting down on Monday, despite Google’s constant warnings, and come Monday morning will find themselves without anyway to visit their favorite sites. Sure they will remember some of the sites they visit, but inevitably they will forget some and when they move to a new service–or don’t–the traffic to many, many sites will take a serious hit.
So take this as a public service message to write a blog post like this one to warn your readers today and tomorrow to get ready as the Google Reader apocalypse descends.