When Google announced back in March that they were pulling Google Reader off the Internet, there was a massive outpouring of "why, Google, why" followed by almost nothing for three months. Now that we're less than two weeks away (at the time of this writing) from July 1st, it's time to start considering your RSS reader replacement software.
Back in March, my colleague Scott Matteson over at the Google in the Enterprise blog here at TechRepublic posted five good candidates for a hearty replacement for Reader. Those candidates are great, and his first selection, Feedly, is probably the overall best candidate (or, at least, it's my favorite). Nevertheless, there are five more apps that are good candidates for a Reader replacement.
I evaluated these five apps on a few basic aspects and functions: Google import (feeds and history); style and layout; and web, client, or both. All of these use cloud storage, which is a "must" as far as I'm concerned.
CommaFeed is a very clean and simple web app that looks and works well on desktop and tablet browsers alike. The interface is very simple, so this isn't for you if you like fancy panels like other selections in this list. CommaFeed imports feeds from Google Reader automatically but does not import history, so you will lose all of your starred articles and any feed items older than the current selection (usually 10).
Skimr is another web-based app that is browser and platform agnostic. It also has a very clean look and feel but is also very basic. Imports from Reader require you to download your OPML file from Google and import it onto their site, however they only accept the feed listing not any history or starred statuses. Finally, it doesn't report the number of unread items on the feed listing page. Read items are shown within each feed's page by graying out the text.
News360 is a little bit different. Instead of a direct import of RSS feeds, it takes your Google Reader account and analyzes what is in it. Then, it recommends several of its own feeds that you might be interested in. Some are direct copies; others are more generalized or vague. Like Skimr, News360 doesn't show unread counts but even worse it doesn't appear to show read status on the individual feed items either. News360 looks nice on the web in Windows and on tablets and it also offers apps for iOS, Android, and Windows tablets. Finally, News360 is a "learning" reader - as you read articles, you can answer whether you like the story or not and it will adjust feed suggestions for you in the future.
Pulse is very similar to News360 - it uses a tiled layout and presents your feeds in a fancier, but still clean manner. Differently, though, it allows full feed listing import from Google Reader (however no history or stars) and keeps read status by graying out the text similar to Skimr. Pulse is web based and looks nice on the desktop or tablet while also offering native apps for iOS and Android.
Our final selection, Bloglines, is similar to CommaFeed, in that it has a more traditional layout, keeps and displays a feed read history (unread counts and graying out read items), and allows you to mark articles as favorites. However, Bloglines requires you to import the OPML file similar to Skimr so you don't get your history and favorites. Bloglines is web-only, but it looks nice on desktop and tablet browsers alike.
Even though the page is currently just a countdown timer, Digg is claiming they will have a replacement reader ready for July 1st. If they're planning on letting people import their content from Google, though, they had better have it ready a few days ahead of time. Depending on what it looks like and what it does, Digg might take the lead away from my five and Scott Matteson's five. Keep an eye out and see what they come up with.