A Wake for Google Reader

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that Google will shut down Google Reader in July.

This is extremely sad for me, since Reader is an essential tool that I use several times a day to keep up with hundreds of items. I’m not joking or exaggerating; I scan hundreds of items on a (mostly) daily basis. Reader makes this manageable, and I will miss it.

When I read the news on Reader, I took to Twitter to join the hand-wringing and fist-shaking movement. That’s a double irony, reading the news on Reader and using a service that has surely hastened its demise to complain about it.

I’m not surprised by the out-pouring of sentiment. Reader has been on life-support since its neutering in late 2011. Google has given plenty of notice that Google+ is its future for social activities, and the related-but-not news of Andy Rubin’s departure shows that Google continues to narrow its focus.

Anyway, if you’d like to petition Google to save Reader, there are several you can sign over on Change.org. This one has the most signatures.

It’s actually for the best that Reader will be killed, since it was dying a slow death anyway. I think we all knew this was coming. Think about this: how awesome would it be to see Google sell Reader to its users, like I proposed years ago for Flickr?

Win-win for everyone. I would pay to keep it as-is.

So, now what? I’ll be collecting replacement options over the next three months, and they’re pretty easy to find.

Hirish Mittal (@hrishio) actually made a list of alternatives, good on ya.

Some of the more interesting or funny to me options:

There’s lots of coverage (e.g. here, here) natch because the sky is falling today. It’ll die down quickly though as we all move on to the next shiny object.

Lost in all the weeping for Reader was a possibly bigger deal, h/t to Bill (@btaroli):

CalDAV API will become available for whitelisted developers, and will be shut down for other developers on September 16, 2013. Most developers’ use cases are handled well by Google Calendar API, which we recommend using instead. If you’re a developer and the Calendar API won’t work for you, please fill out this form to tell us about your use case and request access to whitelisted-only CalDAV API.

It’s very murky, but this seems to be a Google-Microsoft tiff. Details are missing, but if Google doesn’t whitelist Apple or Mozilla, Google Calendar becomes orphaned because its users won’t be able to use their preferred clients.

Stay tuned for details.

So, cry about Reader in the comments, but this is a wake, so let’s remember Reader at its best.




  1. For the record, I got here via a Facebook share of the post.

    I’ve found myself using Google Reader less and less over the past couple of years, but when I do use it, it’s essential.

    I’ve checked some alternatives out, but they have drawbacks – for example, Feedly doesn’t support Internet Explorer, which makes it a non-option for my locked-down work computer. I did set up a couple of biometrics/forensics-related feeds on a new tab in my seldom-visited My Yahoo site – I also use that particular account to participate in work-related Yahoo Groups, so that may be an option.

  2. It’s actually for the best that Reader will be killed, since it was dying a slow death anyway.

    Are you serious?! What a stupid comment.

    How is it dying a slow death??

    Just leave reader alone and online..

  3. Greg Rahn posted a link to Prismatic (on Hirish’s list) last night after the announcement. I signed up…looks decent, but I’m not sure how to use it yet.

    I like GR, a lot. Even though I’d often hit that +1000 unread thing…which I believed you’ve talked about here.

    I think I started with GR in 2005 or so, it will be missed.

  4. Since this is a wake, I’ve poured a glass of extra-hoppy IPA (Howe Sound Super Jupiter Grapefruit IPA, om-nom) to toast the impending demise of Google Reader, the first RSS aggregator thingy I ever used. While I mostly consume its content through Flipboard now, I will be sad to see it go, and remember fondly discovering all sorts of new stuff through the feeds of my betters. Google Reader helped to bring clarity to my content consumption by allowing my to use my peers as (mostly) intelligent agents. Other services are still poor substitutes for that purpose.

    Here’s to ya, GReader. I’ll miss you when you’re gone.

  5. @John B: I just can’t get into FB or Twitter as news sources. It seems like too much work, and I know their ulterior motives. The options all have drawbacks, but I guess I’ll have to reevaluate them.

    @barywhite: After the removal of the social features in late 2011 and the rumors of resource reallocation, Reader has been in maintenance mode. Typically removing popular features and removing resources signals a project that is circling the bowl. Sad, but true.

    @chet: All these years, I’ve ignored the other options bc Reader was the best. Time to start over.

    @John P: That sounds like a nice brew. Nice toast. I’ll be joining you w a Ninkasi TD later.

  6. As an update, I’m seeing tweets from Flipboard that they’ll provide a way to import your Google Reader feeds (not just sync). That could be a good stopgap, but I’ve found adding/maintaining individual feeds in Flipboard to be a colossal PITA. Flipboard has a lot going for it on the content-consumption side; I’m quite a big fan. That’s probably why dealing with the config parts of the UI seem to make audible clunking sounds every time I have to go digging in there. 😛

  7. I got here using netvibes.com. I thought, now that reader is going down anyway, lets move over to something else asap.

    So far, netvibes.com looks good, but not all my feeds works correctly with them. Some just didn’t show any articles and others show the same article 2 or 3 times…

    Maybe I will try some others too…

  8. @John P: I just can’t get into Flipboard. All the rich content and animation gets in the way of reading, fast, which is what I need to do.

    @Toni: Good to know.

    @Anon: Interesting, will take a look at netvibes, thanks.

  9. Oh, didn’t take much hunting:

    Former Google Reader product manager confirms our suspicions: Its demise is all about Google+


    On a broader perspective… what can we learn from this? When we find ourselves in a situation of having a great product that’s loved and used widely as well as having another one based on a lot of work and insight we’d like people to move to more quickly…

    Can you be too successful in areas at times? Is there a tradeoff? How to avoid brand alienation? Cannibalization? Coexistence? Interesting business problems… that on reflection it is nice to have compared to some!

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