Feed Me!

Empty RSS Feed Reader

In just a few days, Google Reader will shut down permanently. Google’s decision has left many geeks in a quandary. Smaller but well-known providers1 in the space are scrambling to “coral” as many people as possible. In trying to navigate the field of services, I’ve had to decide not to decide.

Right now, I”m using Feedly, a free service. The service has been mostly reliable and performs well. The iOS app ( I mainly read on my iPad ) is functional. The web front end is well designed and responsive. Some RSS software developers are claiming they will support it soon. While I could stick with Feedly, I’m concerned about relying on another free service. How exactly does Feedly make money?

Shortly after Google made their announcement, I went searching for alternatives. I followed the advice of Dave Winer and set up my own River server on AWS. When the first bill from Amazon2 came due, I decided this wasn’t an option for me. The CU and bandwidth costs were very high. I also found very little feed reading software that supported the service.

Soon after that, I found Fever. I follow over 200 feeds, so I liked what Fever was offering.

Fever reads your feeds and picks out the most frequently talked about links from a customizable time period. Unlike traditional aggregators, it seems Fever works better the more feed I follow.

And the price was right. A one-time license fee of $30 and a few lines of code, and I had Fever running on one of my domains. However, the server didn’t perform well. Syncing took awhile, and the iOS version of Reeder was the only app that I found with Fever support. I probably needed a beefier server.

So I continued using Google Reader with the Reeder app, hopeful that something would happen before July. There was some buzz around Feedbin so I registered for the service. It worked, but the performance was poor. It took minutes to download feed items with Feedbin as opposed to the seconds with Google Reader. Sometimes cost isn’t an indication of quality. The performance continued to suffer, and the developer took the service offline for over 7 hours to upgrade his infrastructure. I dropped the service. Perhaps it was a rash decision, but when I’m paying for a service, I expect you to perform better than FREE. I expect a better communication plan that a tweet linking to a blog post. The support request system leaves much to be desired. Did Ben Ubois create his service just for software developers?

Some of the digital cognoscenti3 are voicing support for Feed Wrangler.

ReadKit for Mac just added Feed Wrangler support, so I’m trying that out now. Reeder for iPhone will get it shortly, and Mr Reader for iPad already supports it.Marco

I have yet to try Feed Wrangler. All of these services (except for Feedly ) are paid services costing about $24/year. I want to try Feed Wrangler if, but I already paid for a full year of Feedbin service, and I’m not sure when/if I’ll get a refund. I purchased ReadKit, and I am testing that out with Fever. It’s a beautiful app, but it lacks most of the social sharing services that I’ve come to expect.

Reeder is my current favourite RSS app. The iPad and Mac versions lack support for other feed services beyond Google Reader. However, Reeder’s developer has removed the iPad and Mac apps from the store and has made the iPhone app free until he can release an update.

The current version of Reeder for iPhone will be free, starting today. Version 3.2 (already submitted) will support the following services as alternatives to Google Reader:

  • Feedbin
  • Feedly
  • Feed Wrangler (No support for smart streams yet in Reeder)
  • Fever
  • Standalone/Local RSS without syncing

I’ve tested the iPhone version, which supports Feedbin and Fever. It works well but I’m looking forward to having support for the other services. What I want is to use my choice of feed reader on iOS and OS X with support for all the current crop of RSS sync services. If I’m patient it would seem that Reeder will be that app.

In the meantime, I’ve made sure to export all my feeds and will be using Feedly web and iOS apps. The Verge has a useful review of several alternative services and apps that I have yet to try.


  1. The amount of “spam” from Feedly and Flipboard is obnoxious, but I have a few other options that work on iOS and OS X. 
  2. Running River on a Windows server instance cost me over almost $11. I do not want to pay hundreds of dollars a year for sync services. 
  3. I was searching for a word that means “people in the know,” and this seemed to fit.