Good night, sweet prince.
The good folks over in Mountain View are shuttering Google Reader, the search engine giant's popular web-based RSS service, on July 1, leading to much wailing and gnashing of teeth for news junkies across the Internet Wednesday night.
Google brief blog post hints at the reasoning behind the shutdown, that fit with the company's recent trend of killing off niche products (like the recently acquired Snapseed's desktop apps) so they can focus on fewer products with their (considerable) resources. Some suspect that Reader's functionality will make its way another Google product like Google+ (or the Currents app, mentioned below), so the hunt is on for other options.
THE CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR CATEGORY
Feedly (Web, iOS, Android)
Feedly looks like one of the strongest of the bunch and it is taking that potential role seriously. The company has a blog post announcing their new service Normandy, which aims to clone the backend of Google Reader without a user having to do a thing. As far as the web and mobile apps go, they are slick and are very configurable to suit just about any usage. Keep an eye on this one come summer.
Newsblur (Web, iOS, Android)
The closest mirror to Google Reader as it exists today is Newsblur, a multi-platform straight-forward reader that looks and acts a whole lot like the dearly departed Reader (but slower, which might be due to the
The Old Reader (Web only)
If all you want is an exact replica of the web-based Google Reader, with no social media connections or really anything else, The Old Reader is right up your alley. They are swamped right now and can't import your Google Reader feeds at the moment, but once the hubub dies down, this will be the go-to alternative for fans of minimalism (like this user is).
SLICK MAGAZINE-STYLE READERS FOR YOUR TABLET
Flipboard (iOS, Android)
Not long after the debut of the iPad, and with it the idea of actually using a tablet regularly, Flipboard debuted with a revolutionary design that was part high-gloss magazine, part Google Reader. There have been many changes since it debuted, including moving from just iPads to iPhones and Android devices, but it's still at the top of its game and has spawned a lot of competition. UPDATE: Flipboard has gone so far as to build in a seamless transition of your feeds. Read more on their blog.
Google Currents (iOS, Android)
In a nutshell: Google noticed Flipboard and made its own version of a magazine reader. It's actually pretty good, too, and unlike Reader, it's still getting support from Google.
Zite, Pulse, Taptu
All of these apps do kind of the same thing in similar ways. Clearly their idea is to put a new, tile-based face on the old stodgy act of reading RSS feeds. The problem is that none of them quite get it right and, truthfully, a lot of people (this author included) just want to power through a couple hundred articles at once, which this kind of thumbnail-based interface just doesn't allow.
DARK HORSE CANDIDATES
WordPress, the venerable DIY blogging platform, debuted a feature a little over two years ago called, appropriately, "Reader,' to help users keep track of their favorite WordPress blogs. But as fellow TechKnow Bytes blogger Laura Keeney reports, WordPress is developing a new set of features that could make it the best choice to replace Reader in the hearts and minds of news junkies.
Not content to let WordPress have all the fun, Digg, another of the former big players in the Web 2.0 push that has recently undergone a rebirth of its own, has jumped into the fray to build their own reader app, which you can help test. That site will also serve as a handy countdown timer for the most melodramatic and heartbroken Google Reader users.