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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.

Fever costs $30 and is yours to own forever—but you need to host it yourself. It's a PHP- and MySQL-based Web engine for managing RSS feeds. It scores bonus points for its novel approach: The software aims to distinguish between "essential" and "supplemental" feeds, and tries to promote the most topical (in other words, "hottest"—get it?) stories to you first. I bought Fever back in March, when Google announced it was killing Reader, and I tried to get into it, but it's not quite for me. While Fever does well with folders, it doesn't do great with individual feeds kept outside of folders—such feeds don't appear in Fever's sidebar, though you can find their content in Fever's Hot and Kindling sections.

That said, if you have the technical smarts to get the service installed, it's not a bad option: The three-paneled Web interface is highly usable; the keyboard support is good; Fever will continue to work for a good long time; and third-party apps can (if they so choose) connect to it. I appreciate that I have it in my back pocket should everything else fail.

BazQux Reader looks a lot like Google Reader on the Web. And it works pretty well, with a variety of customizable views. The service costs either $9, $19, or $29 per year; you choose which price you want to pay. The keyboard support is okay, but not great; there's no arrow key option. Overall, BazQux is okay, if unpronounceable, but its faithfulness to Google Reader's interface is misspent on me: I was never a fan of Google Reader on the Web. If you were, though, BazQux is worth a close look.

There are other smaller services to explore, too. NewsBlur has its proponents, but I found its Web UI just didn't work for me at all.

Big guys
Google taketh away, and now Digg and AOL are giveth-ing us readers of their own. The nascent Digg Reader isn't bad, but its newness shines through. It uses Google Reader-style keyboard shortcuts, has no arrow key support, can't open links in the background, and has some other quirks. Digg Reader also just released a companion iOS app. The iOS app shows even more promise than the Web app, and is a pleasure to use.

If you liked Google Reader on the Web, there's a lot to like with Digg Reader. Despite the fact that it's in its infancy and feels a little slow, it works, it's usable, and Digg clearly knows what it's doing. Digg is providing a healthy dose of optimism, and if third-parties start integrating with the service à la Google Reader, things could get very interesting.


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