Spring by Yannick Bammert.
By: Yannick Bammert - CC BY 2.0

Recently I found myself hitting the "mark all read" option in Reeder (iOS) and ReadKit (OS X). When staring at an unread item count of several hundred it's easier to do that then trying to catch up. I started to realize that I had less time to read the "feeds". Some of the feeds had less compelling content that I had thought and many of them had stale content. Some of the feeds posted news almost as fast as it happened, often with little analysis and insight. So why read them?

Earlier this week I switched1 from FeedWrangler to Feedbin. The Feedbin feed management tab allows me to sort my feeds by name of the date they were last updated. I had a lot of feeds that had not been updated in several months and some of the sites were no longer online. I got rid of everything that had not been updated in two months. Some sites may not update often but have excellent content. but I think thirty days is a good cut off point.

I also got rid of any sites that were too "spammy". I had some sites that had a several updates every fifteen minutes2! And many of those posts are just short one paragraph links to longer articles on sites I already followed. I got rid of the "dupes".

I am now able to find more wheat than chaff in my feeds. I am hitting the "mark all read" button a lot less.

  1. I started using FeedWrangler shortly after Google Reader shut down. Recently I've had very little luck getting any support from the developer. 
  2. That's how often I set Reeder and ReadKit to refresh. 

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 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 read mostly 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. When the first bill from Amazon2 came due I decided this wasn't an option for me. I also found very little 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 service didn't perform well. Syncing took awhile and the iOS version of Reeder was the only app that I found with Fever support.

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 device offline -- completely -- 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. And I expect a better communication plan that a tweet about 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 ( with the exception of 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 nice 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 version 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 good 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 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. 

The first tab, Slow Feeds, lets you switch between All or Unread items for sites with few content every day: for instance, this is where I can find things like the iFixit Blog, Minimal Mac, or Beautiful Pixels. These are sites that I am interested in, but that because of their low-volume nature could sometimes easily get lost in the plethora of unread items (ever wondered why these sites usually don’t publish on Apple keynote day?). The app has been very accurate at picking “slow feeds” for me, going back a few months to older items it knew I might have missed — indeed, thanks to Slow Feeds I rediscovered many articles that I had unintentionally ignored.Federico Viticci

I started using Slow Feeds while researching alternative for Google Reader. I spent most of my reading time in the Slow Feeds tab. I had missed so much great content in the information flood from the over 200 feeds I subscribe to.