Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eulogy to Google Reader

Google has announced today that they are shutting down Google Reader on July 1st 2013. Here's what they said on the official Google blog:
We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.
Google Reader is one of the apps that I have been relying on, every single day, almost since the time it showed up in Google Labs (itself discontinued in July 2011).  I started using Reader with my account on Dec 7th 2005 and then migrated to my account with Google Apps For Your Domain when Reader started supporting it. I've looked at 153,000 items in over 7 years from 200 feeds. That's an average of 60 items per day.

I read all my news feeds using Reader on web browsers and also use Reader via Newsify on my iOS devices. Newsify themselves are scrambling to figure out what this means for them. They have a one-line reaction on their website:
We're still investigating options, but our desire is to keep Newsify working after Google Reader shuts down.
With Reader, having one account accessible on any computer made it very easy to keep track of what was read and unread. Coming from the days of AvantGo on my Palm IIIxe, this was a huge improvement. This "cloud" access combined with Google's search prowess, made Reader the best news reader.

The one feature that I loved the most was Reader's keyboard shortcuts. It made it just a breeze to scan through feeds and speed read. Reader was the second best Google product I've used (after search, of course).
Google Reader keyboard shortcuts
Feedback to Google's decision is universally negative. Mashable has an op-ed - "We Still Love Reader". There's a petition asking Google to reverse their decision. Lifehacker has already put out a list of alternatives to Reader. I'll have to see which one of the alternatives comes closest to Reader.

My (futile) plea to Google - please don't kill Reader.


Balaji Srinivasan said...

Totally agree. I use reader to keep track of your blog among others :)

Unknown said...

Yikes! I didn't know my blog had readership :)