Feedly Review: A Google Reader Replacement

Posted: 18th March 2013 by ToadHollowPhoto in Review

When I came across Google’s recent announcement to shutter it’s very popular online service Google Reader, I was shocked.  And it would seem I am far from alone on this.  I’ve used it for a few years extensively to help me track, organize and curate the weekly list we write for Light Stalking, and without it there’s no way I could manage this task in any sort of reasonable time-frame.  So, once my heart-rate returned to somewhat normal and I  began to look into what to do next, I came across what I hope to be the solution.

And it’s more than a solution to a problem, I believe.  It’s a paradigm shift for how I use and manage these feeds.

Over the course of the next few days I found myself in and out of a ton of rabbit holes; places and programs that seemed to have what I was looking for, only to be disappointed by one after the other until I came across a system called Feedly.  This article is intended to be a Feedly review for those seeking an alternative.

Screenshot from PC - Feedly.com

Screenshot from PC – Feedly.com

By logging on with my current Google ID, I was up and running in less time than it takes me to change my socks.  From there a quick look around all the menus and options, and I had it configured just the way I like.  At this point the real power of this advanced interface really came to life.

I follow several hundred RSS feeds to keep up with all the happenings online.  The ability to use the device I have at hand to mark certain articles for viewing and use later is key, and this is completely predicated on the need to have this occur in the cloud.  This way, no matter if I am in front of my PC, my iPad or my Android, I have access to the same list and the same collection of saved articles.

I spent a few hours over the weekend researching the situation in an effort to fully understand what it was I was looking at.  A post on one of Feedly’s public forums got me a quick response to one of the key questions I had, which was if we are using our Google ID’s to logon and manage our RSS subscriptions, what happens when Google goes dark later this year?  The folks at Feedly, from what I understand, are working on a project that perfectly emulates the Google API and thus will have complete control over this aspect of the system when things change later this year.

For those who aren’t deep into the world of computer programming, what this means is a smooth and seamless transition, if the plans come off as designed.

Screenshot from iPad - Feedly App

Screenshot from iPad – Feedly App

My next activity was to download and install the Feedly iOS app onto my iPad and check it out there.  And this is where my previous excitement about the advanced interface I was experiencing on the PC was overshadowed by the absolutely incredible interface presented on the iPad.  It’s a work of art.

Since I got my Android phone earlier this year I have become rather attached to a new app that it came pre-bundled with, called Flipboard.  It’s a great, configurable news aggregate that feeds stories of interest to the reader in a slightly new way, and one that is very compelling I must say.  The user vertically flips through the articles, making for a very intuitive interface to use for this sort of activity.  Feedly feels quite a bit like this to me, making for a modern, easy-to-use and highly intuitive interface for the task at hand.

So now that we’ve seen what it looks like on larger form factor devices like your PC or Mac, and your tablet computing device, what does it look like on your smart phone?

Screenshot from Android - Feedly App

Screenshot from Android – Feedly App

They’ve taken the reduced screen real-estate and formatted the results to flow just perfectly here.  Once again, we find the interface to be light-years ahead of the Google Reader interface, producing a much richer experience for the user.  I found that by configuring all my devices to automatically “Mark as Read” as I scroll through, the entire interaction with the vast number of lists and entries I deal with on a daily basis was entirely comfortable, and flowed just perfectly.

I actually believe, at the time I write this, that the Feedly platform will not only replace my current reliance on Google Reader, but will actually enrich the user experience for me and may even help my workflow by reducing a few keystrokes for certain interactions that over time will result in great time savings for me.

Now, I’m only into this all for a couple of day at the time of this writing, and we all know that time is the true metric to go by; will it still be the magic bullet in a few weeks?  A fair question, for sure.  Will the transition once Google Reader actually goes dark be as smooth and seamless as advertised?  Again, we won’t know until the time comes.  But as of today, I am very thankful to have found Feedly and hope that is delivers on all the promises outlined so far.

It should also be noted that I have seen reference to posts online that discuss the performance of the Feedly system, with some mention of the system being overloaded at times.  I suspect with the announcement by Google, this may be cause for many people to start looking for and interacting with new systems, like Feedly, and this maybe the underlying cause of these reports.  My experience so far has been excellent.

Do you actively use RSS feeds to follow blogs and posts online?  If so, what does the demise of Google Reader mean to you, and what is your experience moving forward?  We’d love to have you weigh in below with your comments, please feel free to jump right in!

  1. avatar Averil says:

    Once again you have saved me a ton of work. I was heart broken when I found out that Google Reader was not to be any longer. I send all my blogs I follow through the reader which enables me to keep up with them anywhere. I was in limbo mode wondering what I was to do and here arrives your timely blog. I am going to check out Feedly. :O)

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Most excellent, thanks Averil! I really hope you find the right tool for your needs! We’re thrilled if we could be of help at all!

  2. Like you, Toad, I found Feedly when I first heard about Google Reader being shut down. I have so far played with in on my Mac at home, the PC at work and my iPad and the Cloud based system allows for everything to be perfectly coordinated. I have still a long way to go to full appreciate all of the intricacies but I believe this to be a wondrous step up from the old G Reader. I can actually say that I am glad that Google announced the end of Reader as it has allowed me to find something far better.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Well said, Mark, I actually totally agree with you on this. The more time I spend with Feedly, the more I like it and find it to be a superior interface to Google Reader. Thanks for taking the time to visit, and for these great comments!

  3. avatar Ron Wilson says:

    Thanks, I have yet to grasp the implications of the news re Feedly but thanks for including us newbies into its possibilities. I don’t do RSS feeds and I think I should get off my butt and learn.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks for the visit today, Ron, please let us know if you have any questions at all, we’re all too happy to try and help here! We sure do appreciate your kind visit today!

  4. avatar Rick Louie says:

    I was just starting to look for a tool to replace Google Reader. Thanks for a great review. I need to go try it out now.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I hope you enjoy it, Rick, and that it meets your needs! Thanks so much for your kind visit today!

  5. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Thanks for the post Toad. I actually had used Feedly in the past but was a bit disappointed in it. After reading about Google abandoning it, I dug it out and, wow, have they ever improved it since I last used it. I really like the look and feel. So here is to a seamless transition come July.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Right on, thanks Len! We really appreciate hearing everyone’s feedback on this as it seems to be a bit of a hot topic for some at the moment. We sure do appreciate your thoughts and your kind visit!

  6. avatar Scott Wood says:

    Great review. I also looked at Feedly as an alternative, but I don’t like the interface as much as others. I may still return to it, but not committing to any alternative that still requires Google as the backend.

    The research continues.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I believe their “Normandy” system will seamlessly replace the Google back-end when the time comes. All the research I’ve done seems to indicate this is part of their road-map and as such will be totally smooth for everyone who uses it. Best of luck in finding the right tool for your needs, Scott, we sure do appreciate you taking the time to visit here and leave us your thoughts today!

  7. Thanks for this post, Toad, and for the time you’ve put in researching this. I use Google Reader too, and have liked it a lot, so I really appreciate this review.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit, and for leaving us your comments Laurie, we appreciate it more than we can say my friend!

  8. Hello Mr Toad. this is a great write up on one of my favorite readers. I have used it most of my android life.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I am so happy to see you pop by today Joseph, and to read your comments that seem to mirror the experience we’re having here so far. Thank you, my friend!