The recent guidance by the FAA that allowed fewer restrictions on the use of portable electronic devices during takeoff and landing has lead to speedy changes in the policies of (most, but unfortunately not yet all) major airlines in the United States. In short this means that smart phones and tablets can be used in airplane mode (i.e. no data connection) for the entire flight. I fly quite a bit and my rough estimate is that this gives each traveler at least an extra hour of possible device time per flight.
I have been using the Reeder RSS app on the iPhone and iPad (there’s a Mac version too) for a while now. Initially Reeder was just a Google Reader client. With the demise of Google Reader the developer of Reeder initially updated Reeder for iOS to support Feedbin (and subsequently other RSS services) but then decided to create a whole new app for all platforms. As of today that new app is live in the iOS app store. Since the app costs $5 and Reeder v1 still works well on the iPhone I am on the fence regarding upgrading. For those who don’t have a good mobile RSS reader and are looking for one my experience with Reeder v1 makes it easy for me to recommend Reader v2, which is universal so it looks good on both the iPhone and iPad. Do keep in mind that although you can now subscribe to feeds directly in the app that syncing across devices only occurs when you connect to another service. Reeder v2 currently supports Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, Fever and Readability.
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.
Back in October 2012 Google shut down the Feedburner API, a situation that left many an Internet content publisher scrambling for alternatives to a service that no longer seemed to be a given to continue into the distant future. It’s true that Feedburner is still alive (for now) but the signs of a slow retreat by Google from the feed distribution space (shut down the API, shut down the blog) are there. Given the signs I think it’s a wise move for Internet content publishers to: a) start migrating feeds off of Feedburner; and b) refrain from moving any new feeds over to Feedburner.
As an early Feedburner user (pre acquisition by Google) I thought that it would be helpful to write a post that provides some context by letting people know what Feedburner does for publishers, why they got so popular, what happened after Google acquired them and why Feedburner (and services like it) are no longer necessary (or advisable) for those people who plan to be serious Internet content publishers for a long time to come.
As someone who for years now has used RSS readers to consume news from a variety of sources I can confidently say that the one thing that has bugged me the most is the continued tendency of publishers to switch to partial content feeds. Partial content feeds limit the number of characters available in the feed and typically (but not always) contain a read more link that takes the reader to the web page that contains the full post.
The reasoning behind partial content feeds is very simple. For the most part publishers of partial feeds want to force their audience to visit the website so that ads can be viewed alongside the content. In some cases there are partial feeds due to paywalls and the subsequent authentication that is not supported in a feed. I’m sure there are also a few cases where the publisher doesn’t realize that they are pushing out a partial content feed.
There has been much consternation on the Internet in the weeks since Google announced their decision to shut down Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Count me among the first that initially recoiled in horror when I read the announcement…in Google Reader of course. The thing is that for many Google Reader has become an engine that processes large amounts of information and makes it available seemingly everywhere we need it. And so while it is certainly a niche product for Google, Google Reader is incredibly important to those who use it daily.
The concern regarding the closure of Google Reader is also borne out of the fact that in popularizing their tool Google essentially wiped out all of the competition for RSS (stands for Really Simple Syndication) news readers out of the market. Part of the reason Google was able to achieve this was based on the fact that Google Reader could be used and kept in sync across multiple platforms. The Google Reader API also allowed other applications (such as Reeder which I use and love) to to provide new news feed reading experiences without having to build all the back end systems required to manage and poll feeds. So knowing that Google Reader was going away many people began scrambling for the answer to the question, “Is RSS dead?” Because if RSS is dead some people will have to figure out new ways to read their news until developers can figure out a technology that can replace RSS.