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Bye-bye, Google Reader: Alternative RSS solutions for Mac and iOS users

Lex Friedman | June 28, 2013
After July 1, 2013, Google Reader is no more. Lex Friedman tried many alternatives to figure out the best way to satisfy his news reading desire with his Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

Feedly is free. To me, that's a knock against it. If Google—Google!—couldn't figure out a way to monetize this kind of service, I'm not sure anyone can. It doesn't help that I'm no fan of Feedly's interface on the Web: I basically want something that looks like NetNewsWire, and Feedly isn't it. To its credit, the service does support a slew of keyboard shortcuts, handles folders well, and uses a clean layout—just one that doesn't work for me. Besides the aforementioned Mr. Reader, you can use the Newsify app with Feedly; that offers a pleasant enough browsing experience on iOS, but leaves you without a great reading solution on your Mac.

FeedHQ, on the other hand, charges money—$12 per year. That semblance of a business model goes in the pro column. But the open-source service's plain-Jane interface would disappoint even a hardcore Linux-lover. There's decent, omnipresent keyboard control, but no current folder support, mangled timestamps, and other problems. While it ostensibly works, it's hard to recommend.

Feedbin charges, too; it costs $2 per month, or $20 per year. It's the first Web service I tried that I felt I could make work. Your folders become tags in Feedbin's parlance, and there are plenty of settings to tweak how the Web app organizes and sorts your feeds. The keyboard shortcuts are plentiful, and include excellent arrow key support, which warms my heart. There's built-in Readability integration, so if a site's RSS feed doesn't include the complete article, you can click a button to load the rest of the story in many cases. Keyboard shortcuts let you open the current story in another tab, including an option (Shift-V) to open that tab in the background. Feedbin isn't a desktop client, but it's working hard to feel awfully close. I like that. Sometimes, though, it can feel a little slow on the Web: Marking as read takes a couple of extra beats; the article preview pane can't keep up as you're navigating through your feed source list. But Feedbin is certainly a service that gives me hope for our Google Readerless future.

Feed Wrangler costs $19 per year, and seemed promising at first. That rate includes free access to apps that the company offers for iOS, and an upcoming app the service says it will offer for the Mac. But I had trouble with the service. There was no confirmation when I paid the $19 subscription fee, and I never received a receipt. The service choked repeatedly on importing my feeds, and doesn't seem to offer a way to view all of my feeds in a single list—though that may be because it refuses to import them. It doesn't seem to handle folders. And the Web interface, like FeedHQ's, feels sorely lacking.


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