Once Reader's hardcore devotees adjust to a post-Reader world, however, they may take notice of an important detail: Reader kind of sucked.
Over the past few months, I've taken various RSS-fueled feedcatchers for extended test drives. And I've discovered that better products than Reader are available in the RSS wilderness.
The new Digg Reader (still in beta) is pretty bare-bones, but it has at least one cool feature: a sidebar view that organizes your unread articles by how popular they are on Twitter.
According to the rumor mill, a new Facebook Reader is in the works, but what it might look like is anyone's guess.
Of the news readers I've tried, the hands-down winner is Feedly. Feedly isn't merely a suitable successor to Reader--it's a vast improvement.
Why Feedly is better
In recent years Reader had fallen behind its peers because Google had stopped investing in Reader as it pushed its resources into Google+ and other newer products. Google's lack of interest in Reader becomes clear when you consider what a smaller, singularly focused company behind Feedly accomplished with the same technology.
The dev team behind Feedly placed a welcome emphasis on design and functionality. They built features into Feedly that should have been no-brainers for inclusion in Reader.
Where Feedly is slick and modern, Reader looks like a relic of a bygone digital era. For example, in both its Web and mobile incarnations, Feedly maximizes screen real estate by using hidden menus that disappear when they're not in use. Reader, meanwhile, mucks up the screen with an unretractable sidebar. Hidden menus and other dynamic content are hardly revolutionary, but they constitute fundamental ingredients of modern design--and unfortunately Google never bothered with them in Reader.
Feedly uses image-centric content views that clearly acknowledge the world of touchscreens and tablets. In contrast, Reader's primary focus seems to have been on organizing text, with images and other media treated as an afterthought. In today's Web, of course, images and video are fundamental (and increasingly important) elements of the blogging medium.
Feedly has wisely invested in replicating the things that Google Reader got right. The company recently unveiled new investments in its back-end and API capabilities, thereby setting itself up as a formidable opponent for would-be challengers. Feedly Cloud allows the company to store your feeds and subfolders on its servers for use by third-party developers--including mobile apps such as gReader and Newsify, which previously relied on the Google Reader API.
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