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Updated: Nine Google Reader Alternatives for the Hard-Core User

logo[1]  Update: This post how features 9 possible Google Reader alternatives.

When Google announced yesterday that they were cutting me off from Google Reader, I (and many others) suddenly had to scramble to find a new dealer for my news addiction.

I’m still in the middle of picking a replacement, but so far I have been a little disappointed at some of the suggestions put forward by other blogs. Some of these fools threw together a list of apps like Pulse, Flipboard, Google Currents, and the like, none of which meets the needs of the average Google Reader user.

Those apps are all intended for entertainment reading, not for use by hard-core news junkies like myself. The hard-core user needs a way to pack as much info on screen at once. We are not out to be entertained; we want to get as much info as possible.

I follow 1900 feeds, and while that is a little extreme I bet that anyone who follows more than 100 RSS feeds has the same needs I do. Rather than suggest useless apps, I am going to list the ones that I plan to test:



Tiny Tiny RSS

The Old Reader


Opera (this web browser has a feed reader built in)


Update: And here are a couple late additions:



Feedly looked like an early contender,and the developers behind this app had even been working on a setup called Normandy that operated completely independently of Google Reader. But I’ve tried it and I don’t like the UI. First and foremost the UI designer thinks gray text on a gray background is a good idea, but I also don’t like Feedly because it defaults to the same prettified and information-poor layouts found in apps like Flipboard, Google Currents, etc.

Feedly is rapidly growing to be the leading replacement for Google Reader. This service has responded quickly to the influx of GR users and added features, viewing modes, and defaults that might fill the needs of a hard-core news junky.

I have given up on using the rss feed reader option in Opera. It is frankly an ugly and minimally functional cobbled together afterthought that doesn’t offer nearly the features viewing modes, or functions I need. Plus I think it gave me a migraine – twice.

CommaFeed is a relatively newcomer to the market. As of late May 2013, this service is still ramping up from its first few thousand users while adding features as fast as it can.

Bazqux is an established but relatively unknown news reader. It is nearly as feature rich as Google Reader was and can support a thousand or more feeds. This is a paid service and it does not currently have any mobile apps.

FeedsAnywhere is a very mobile friendly, free, durable news reader that works well on small screens. It too can support a high number of RSS feeds.

I have not tried all of the rest.  Have you? What do you think?


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George March 14, 2013 um 11:34 am

So far I’ve tried Feedly & The Old Reader. The Old Reader seems awfully slow. In fact, so slow I’m not getting anywhere with it. I’ve looked a little at Newsblur but still have yet to give it a go. Feedly seems to be my option right now, but then I only have about 24 blogs I follow.

Scott Tuttle March 16, 2013 um 11:27 am

I think the old reader is getting hammered now with fleeing google reader users.

John March 14, 2013 um 11:37 am

I’ve been using Feedly for a while (synced to Google Reader) and rather like it. The content is rendered on a white background, at least, and it’s fast and efficient for keeping up with large numbers of feeds. Only drawback is that they auto-mark feeds as Read after 30 days. Or is that Google? Can’t remember!

Phil March 14, 2013 um 11:45 am

Feedly shows promise. You can’t change the grey text but selecting a darker theme (bottom left of screen) makes it bearable.

Go into preferences and change the default view to 'Full article' for a more G-Readery feel.

Nate Hoffelder March 14, 2013 um 11:52 am

I did that. I’m still not sure I like the lack of an option black text on white background.

Phil March 14, 2013 um 11:55 am

I think the idea is for the controls to 'get out of the way' of the text – hence the favicons only appearing on a mouse-hover.

Funny – grey text on a grey background is perfectly OK on my Kindle 🙂

Nate Hoffelder March 14, 2013 um 2:54 pm


John March 14, 2013 um 11:59 am

It’s a bit annoying but at least you can have your grey text on a black or a white background!

Tim Cushing March 14, 2013 um 12:08 pm

Thanks for posting a list of useful replacements. Most of replacements suggested by others seem to think I want my RSS feeds replaced by a bunch of pretty, but useless pictures. I do nearly 100% of my feed reading on my phone, as the app version is streamlined perfectly for this. Just a long scroll of headlines and some text should I choose to go deeper.

I’m really not interested in replacing that experience with a data-heavy, slowly moving picture book. Apparently, many developers feel I won’t be able to navigate a few hundred RSS feeds without pausing frequently to gasp at their brilliant layout scheme. I don’t need ostentatious. I need useful.

Nate Hoffelder March 14, 2013 um 4:52 pm

I think Feedly is out, then.

I’ve spent the day with the Android app and I can’t find a way to get rid of the prettified theme. There’s also no other option than to see gray text on a gray background.

Dai Shan March 14, 2013 um 12:19 pm

I had tried TTR in the past, but just kept using Reader. I’ll probably just end switching over to Feedly fulltime (it’s currently the client I use on my phone for GReader). While I also don’t care for its WebUI all that much, I do like Feedly’s android app.

In the meantime, I’m going to re-setup TTR on my home server and give it a-go again.

In the end, this might even workout better. As noted by all the articles this morning, most everyone relied on Reader, so RSS never really advanced. With it’s demise, more services that sync as effortlessly as Reader did might be brought forth.

I also feel, shutting down Reader is a really bad move for Google. Although they said many people didn’t use it, those that did REALLY used it. Now that these same users are scrabbling to find alternatives, there’s is no doubt they will also be investigating alternatives to Google’s other services, like Calendar, Gmail, and Contacts. Those users also include most tech writers and bloggers, who will be writing about these alternatives. Although it may takes months or years, it will eventually erode on Google’s mindshare.
Just my opinion of course.

Paddy O March 14, 2013 um 12:22 pm

A blog I follow on Google Reader posted some info on alternatives.

Paddy O March 14, 2013 um 12:45 pm

and then I found another post about RSS alternatives. Interesting to see who takes the Google Reader Audience

Marie March 14, 2013 um 12:37 pm

I imagine I’ll be trying out quite a few services to figure out what will replace my GReader habit, but I just want to point out that Feedly does have some additional options for the way it presents feeds, at least on the desktop. When viewing your feeds using the Feedly bookmarklet on Firefox, you can default to a title list, you can change font colors for read vs. unread, and more. Haven’t had a chance to see what the preferences can be changed to on my Android phone or tablet, though.

See more on their blog post:

Nate Hoffelder March 14, 2013 um 12:43 pm

Yes there is a title only view but the default is the showy prettified layout. And if you want the title only view you have to switch over one folder or feed at a time. That is annoying.

Marie March 14, 2013 um 12:55 pm

Hmm, I wonder if that’s a bug? Some of my folders display feeds by title/condensed, and some don’t. And when I go into "preferences" while having a particular folder open that is displaying the "prettified" version, it still tells me that I’m viewing in condensed. All my other settings (change color of text for read articles, etc) transfers across folders.

Sondermann March 14, 2013 um 12:42 pm

I’m in the process of testing Feedly as well and while it gets a lot of stick for its color scheme, you can actually change it pretty easily to something that’s easier on the eyes (under "change themes in the left column).
The closest you’ll probably get to a Reader experience will probably be by selecting "titles" under "layout and filtering".

The Rodent March 14, 2013 um 12:48 pm

For RSS reading I use Thunderbird, which I also use as my mail client. So RSS feeds all show up just like e-mail. Works for me, but I only follow 160+ feeds.

cookie March 14, 2013 um 4:16 pm

Here is the criteria for my new RSS Reader:

Since I use the gReader pro app on my Android tablet (I paid $5 for it), it depends on what service they are going to allow me use.

Since they no longer can call themselves a "Google reader" app, will they have to change their name from gReader? Provocative, but I doubt it.

Common Sense March 14, 2013 um 5:36 pm

I’m still using Bloglines, not perfect, but it’s still working. I just worry that since it’s not their main focus, it will go away. I use My Yahoo for basic news but it doesn’t really work for RSS feeds.

Nate Hoffelder March 14, 2013 um 6:46 pm

I would be using bloglines but it won’t let me import my feeds xml.

Edit: Whoops. Spoke too soon.

ToddZ March 15, 2013 um 12:28 am

Note that the Bloglines RSS reader is now just a rebadged NetVibes RSS reader.

Angela Booth March 15, 2013 um 1:40 am

Google Reader is so much a part of my day that it’s become automatic; the thought that it’s dead makes me alternately saddened and enraged.

I too have looked at the replacements. I have over a thousand feeds. The replacements are for casual users, as you point out.

The Reeder app people tweeted that Reeder (which takes the feeds from GR) wasn’t going away, which is something. They say they have a fix in the works. However, although I have Reeder on my devices, I nevertheless spend most of my time on Google Reader itself.

I tried Feedly, and I hate it.

Before GR, I used BlogLines, so I might go back to it — but I’m wary. I moved on from that when Yahoo said they were shutting it down.

Igor Borski March 15, 2013 um 9:28 am

Nate, give Opera a try.
Last time I looked it was pretty powertool-like.

Nate Hoffelder March 15, 2013 um 9:48 am

Tried it. Don’t like it. It’s missing a lot of features like

There’s no way to:

  • hide the folders and feeds that don’t have new posts (Opera insists on showing everything)
  • mark all the feeds and folders as read – this has to be done one folder or feed at a time
  • hide the already read posts – this has to be done one folder or feed at a time
  • increase the font size

Opera is great for the medium heavy user but if you have more folders and feeds than can be viewed at one time it is not so great.

It also gave me a headache. This is the first time in a very long while that I can recall getting a headache at the end of the day. I think it might have been the font size, or possibly the gray text on the gray background.

Becki March 15, 2013 um 11:27 am

One of my friends pointed me to Netvibes, and so far I’m liking it. Easy to take the exported subscriptions file from Google and import it. Choice between widgets and list. It took me just a few minutes to set it up, and I’m happy so far. I’m just a "casual" reader with only a few feeds, but another friend set up his account on Netvibes with over a hundred feeds, and he had no problems setting it up, either. So, it might be worth a look-see!

Peter March 15, 2013 um 6:24 pm

I’ve been playing around with various alternatives, and so far the clear winner is NewsBlur. Has a functional iOS app, and the PC/Web interface is solid and functional, not an "Oh, look at me" POS.

Sharon March 16, 2013 um 9:35 am

I used Feedly until they changed their look to feel more like Flipboard.
I like being able to skim down the kist and pick the ones I can read now, the ones I save to Instapaper, and the ones I delete. I have been Reeder which is great on the Mac and iOS. But Reeder required Google Reader. They have said that they will find a solution. I hope they do.

I did finally get through to sign up for NewsBlur. I find it slow and it doesn’t have a quick way to save to Instapaper. I looked at NetVibes but it seems more for those who like those obnoxious HomePages like iGoogle.

Kathryn Scannell March 17, 2013 um 10:53 am

I looked at a number of these and seems pretty good. I signed up for an account and tried to import my feeds, but it stopped after 2 thanks to all the thousands of people looking for an alternative. I’ll probably give it a 2nd in a month or so when the dust has settled a bit. All the alternatives appear to be drowning in new users at the moment.

Right now, I’ve moved over to using a Firefox plugin called Brief, which gives me decent, basic functionality. I have about 200 feeds, but few of them are very high volume. I also don’t tend to bookmark or star a lot within them, because web pages are so inherently ephemeral, if I really want to keep the information I print it to PDF or save the page locally. Brief seems to be working pretty well for tracking the feeds.

The major downside to it is that it’s on my laptop, so if I’m on the road without it, my feed history is gone. I read mostly on my personal laptop, and if I’m traveling on business I normally just take the work laptop and a portable hard drive. Firefox portable might solve that for me.

Paul March 18, 2013 um 2:56 pm

I’m waiting to see what the owners of Netnewswire decide. There’s a good chance that they (along with reeder) will develop their own product by July, hence I think its too early to consider jumping.

Junjie March 20, 2013 um 10:31 pm

The most hard-core yet usable Google Reader came to my mind is Fever.

Ashknuckles March 26, 2013 um 5:05 pm

I tried Feedly but didn’t like it. It was ok at first, took some getting use to with the blog-like format. However, I had installed it on my Safari and some "slow scripts" were affecting the way Safari was running and I had to uninstall.

I am trying NewsBlur now, but I don’t like how I can have "followers" and all of that mess. I just want to read my feeds and get the info! Is it that hard???

alex March 29, 2013 um 11:30 pm

I don’t like feedly too. I tried scrollable news widget. Not bad if u are like me who view news on home screens.

Does the demise of Google reader also meant that I can’t use the app to get RSS feed? It is not able to pull direct?

Nate Hoffelder March 29, 2013 um 11:33 pm

The Google Reader app is tied into GR. It will die with Google Reader.

BTW, there is a way to make Feedly look more like Google Reader:

dmdezigns April 12, 2013 um 8:51 am

The problem with Newsblur is you can only have 64 feeds active at a time unless you do a pay subscription. For heavy users, I follow about 500, that means this is not a free option.

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[…] Hoffelder on The Digital Reader Updated: Six Google Reader Alternatives for the Hard-Core User “I follow 1900 feeds, and while that is a little extreme I bet that anyone who follows more […]

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