About a month ago I wrote a post about RSS being alive in which I wrote the following regarding the impact of Google’s decision to shut down Reader.
Several companies (including Feedly and Digg) have already jumped into the fray to announce their support for new RSS news reading applications. Because while the reader market is small potatoes for Google it represents an opportunity for a much smaller company.
Since then I have tried out a few potential alternatives to Google Reader, including Feedly and Feedbin. If someone asked me which ones were the best alternatives to Google Reader right now I would say that those two are the best options, but for the moment I have chosen Feedbin as my primary RSS reader to consume feeds on a daily basis. I’ll explain why I have made that choice in the paragraphs below.
Shortly after Google announced Reader’s summer sunset date I joined the many other feed fanatics and signed on to Feedly, utiizing their Chrome and iPhone apps to replace Google Reader’s interface. At the time this was really just a chance to try out the Feedly interface since they were still using Google Reader as the back end, but promised an upgrade to their own feed management system in the coming months. (At this time Feedly is in the process of making that promised upgrade.) I enjoyed the fact that Feedly is very stylish, performed quite well, has good sharing options and has a nice iPhone app. I did want to consider other options for two main reasons.
- I had invested in the Reeder app for my iPad and that is by far my favorite way to consumer news via RSS.
- I wanted to try something with a simpler interface since I began to feel that Feedly’s many features and layouts were distracting from the core experience.
Shortly after considering the points above it was announced that Reeder would support Feedbin as a backend.
My first thought was, “What the heck is Feedbin?” Then I went over to the website to check it out.
Knowing that Reeder support was committed I signed right up and went through the very painless process of importing my feeds from Google Reader. The big difference between Feedly and Feedbin from the start was the fact that Feedbin servers were managing the feeds. I had a slight concern that this might mean that performance would suffer but so far the performance has been good. Feeds refresh in a timely enough manner for my tastes and there has only been one brief outage that wasn’t that much of a problem. Kudos to the developer for keeping things running. I also can’t help but think that the $2 fee has the combined effect of affording the developer the ability to fund server management while also holding back the hordes of casual users that could crush the service.
At the outset Feedbin was a barebones proposition with a limited feature set compared to Google Reader or Feedly. Since then a few very helpful features have been added including: a feed for starred entries (good for sharing your starred entries using a the very nifty IFTTT service); tag drawers and basic sharing options. From an interface perspective Feedbin offers a basic browser interface (as shown in the image above) that automatically switches to a mobile optimized view if you view it on your phone. It’s not the greatest mobile experience but that will be taken care of once Reeder support materializes.
Speaking of Reeder support I saw a very welcome update (via Feedbin of course) as I was writing this post indicating that Reeder for iPhone now supports Feedbin. Reeder for iPhone costs $2.99 but the developer has also set the price of the native apps for Mac and the iPad to the friendly price of $0 (aka free). Reeder for Mac and iPad can’t utilize Feedbin as a back end yet, but I have no doubt that support will materialize as promised by the Reeder developer.
I follow a number of tech blogs and podcasts, and I have been surprised at the minimal amount of coverage the Feedbin has received. Given the dearth of Feedbin coverage it may just be the best RSS client that you’re never heard of. For now it’s the best one for me and I can definitely recommend it to you as a worthy replacement for Google Reader.