Just before I went to bed last night Google announced it was shutting down Google Reader. To me, this news is devastating – I use Google Reader every day to keep up with feeds from blogs and other web sites, and have done almost since 2006, back when it was still a Google Labs product. Others are equally shocked too.
Whilst I’m still saddened by the news, it’s not to be unexpected I suppose. Little has happened to Google Reader over the past few years; the last major redesign was in October 2011 which controversially removed some features in favour of Google+ sharing. Before then, it had been some time since the product had received any attention. Clearly it’s not been a priority for Google for a number of years.
The closure of Google Reader is part of yet another round of ‘spring cleaning’, where Google shuts down under-used services and features. It’s had a few of these now, but this is the first time it’s really affected me (well, apart from ending Exchange support for Gmail, but at least there were alternatives).
Predictably there are already a number of articles about alternatives, from Lifehacker, Mashable and CNet. Both recommend Feedly so I’ll check that out, especially as it appears to have an easy migration path. I’m primarily looking for a web-based reader which will sync with an iOS app, like Google Reader does now. Interestingly CNet also recommends Google Currents, which I’ve heard some good things about. However, Google Currents is not a very well known service and Google’s announcement that Google Reader was shutting down didn’t mention it, so I’m not sure how long that will be around for either.
TechCrunch reckons that FeedBurner will be the next service that Google kills off, as that too has languished for a long time. And iGoogle, which is Google’s customised start page site, will close soon as well having previously been announced for the chop.
The outcry from this announcement has been pretty big and so it’s possible that Google will re-consider – a petition has already amassed 40,000 signatures in less than a day. However, I doubt it will – Google Reader hasn’t been a priority for some years now. There’s three and a half months to go before the doors finally shut so I’ll use the time to look at the alternatives. Google Reader has, thankfully, always had an export feature and this now works as part of Google Takeaway . This allows you to carry over your subscriptions to somewhere else in OPML format, plus all of your shares and notes from before the October 2011 redesign.