Google Reader is done; here are five alternatives

With Google Reader on its way out this Monday, many users will be in need of a replacement for their RSS subscriptions. Here's a roundup of what we think are the best alternatives available.

Editors' note: This post has been updated with new and better alternatives to fit your news-reading style.

Hear that? That's the sound of millions of news junkies on the Web scrambling to find an alternative to Google Reader.

As you may have heard, Google Reader will be no more starting July 1. Unfortunately for many of us, the search giant has announced that it will shutter its much-maligned -- though still widely used -- RSS reader, which will no doubt leave many users in a tizzy, searching for other ways to subscribe to their favorite feeds. Sure, Google Reader may not have been the most beautifully designed product to come out of Mountain View, Calif., but it sure was convenient. And now that it's going away, it's evident just how valuable it has been.

With that in mind, we've put together a list of what we think are the best replacements for the soon-to-be-late Google Reader. Plugged-in types won't want to miss a beat once Google Reader sees its sunset, so getting familiar with these alternatives now could be key.

An ideal RSS reader should be available on desktop computers and as native mobile apps for both iOS and Android. That's what Google Reader brought to the table, and we tried our best to focus on similarly versatile services.

With that said, if you're the visual type, there are also options that read more like a magazine. If you prefer to flip through your news on a touch-screen mobile device, we like Pulse (iOS | Android), Flipboard (iOS | Android), and Google Currents (iOS | Android).

And if you're looking for a solely browser-based RSS reader, CNET's Seth Rosenblatt has put together a nice roundup of standalone desktop software for your RSS reading pleasure on both Windows and Mac.

Finally, when you're ready to make the jump, be sure to check out Ed Rhee's post titled "How to export your Google reader data," which highlights how to do just that using Google Takeout.


Your best bet

Feedly (Web | iOS | Android)
Hands down, Feedly is one of the best RSS readers on the market. It's reliable, fast, and makes it easy to switch over from Google Reader. In fact, while Google Reader is still alive, you can easily import your subscriptions into Feedly using the one-click sync option. From there, your stuff will be safely stored on Feedly's shiny new dedicated back-end servers, which are completely untethered to Google.

Feedly has long been considered one of the best RSS readers on the market. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Previously available on desktops only via Chrome or Firefox plug-in, Feedly now has a completely cloud-based service that can be accessed from any browser. When you first launch it, Feedly offers up a menu of featured sites from all around the Web. These sites cover categories from Design to Android to Apple to Business, and you can subscribe to any of them individually, or as a group (category) with a single click. And, of course, you can always search for specific URLs, site names, or topics from within Feedly and subscribe that way, just as you would with Google Reader. You can even share items via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

One of the best things about Feedly, though, is its versatility. If you're looking for something simple like Google Reader, you can use the headline-only view. And for a more visual experience, you can try the magazine or card views.

Overall, Feedly is one of the best RSS readers out there. It performs well and looks beautiful on the Web, and it syncs all of your activity seamlessly to native iOS and Android apps. For all of your RSS needs, this service should definitely be at the top of your list.


The prettiest of the bunch

Curata Reader (Web)
Of all the RSS readers we've checked out, Curata is one of the cleanest. While other readers might be good at giving you a lot of content on one screen, Curata offers a refreshing amount of white space, with just a few clean lines acting as separators. Also, the attractive typefaces, intuitive icons, and nifty rollover animations add to an overall beautiful Web site.

With all its white space, Curata is one of the cleanest RSS readers we've seen. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Curata is, however, short on features, with the biggest omission being an unread counter. This means that when you click on a feed within your Curata Reader, you'll see all of the recent posts from that site, including those you may have already read. Some people might enjoy such a feed, but the majority of users probably won't. Good thing is, the folks at Curata have been getting requests for the feature, and they do plan on incorporating an unread counter in a future release.

It's also worth noting that Curata is only available via Web browser, which means no native apps for your mobile device exist yet. You can, however, go to the mobile-optimized site from your smartphone or tablet.


The Google Reader replica

The Old Reader (Web)
Created after Google Reader was redesigned in 2011, The Old Reader aims to be not just an alternative to Google Reader but a close replica of the original product. Those who used the original Google Reader will notice the familiar colors and layout. More importantly, though, The Old Reader incorporates the popular social features that Google Reader had before it was revamped with Google+. With these social features, you can find friends who are also using The Old Reader and share items with them directly through the service.

Fans of the pre-Google+ Google Reader should love The Old Reader's layout and social features. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

While The Old Reader is still technically in beta, it is easy to sign up for the service and import your Google subscriptions via XML upload. Of course, the bad thing is that there are currently no mobile apps for The Old Reader available, so if that's a deal breaker for you, look elsewhere.


The social news reader

Digg (Web | iOS )
Sure, this one just came out, and we might get knocked for including such a young product on this list, but the fact is that Digg actually brings something unique to the table: social news. Since the new reader is integrated with the Digg.com news site, it actually clues you in to stories that are popular with other readers on the Web. For instance, if any of the articles in your RSS feed are trending on Digg.com, you'll see anywhere from one to three small dots next to it. This adds another dimension to the typical feed-reading experience, and we think it's pretty exciting.

Digg's reader also tells you if any stories are trending on Digg.com. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

That said, the Digg reader is still very much in beta and has a lot of kinks to work out. But the team behind the product is soliciting and implementing suggestions to improve it even as we speak. To get access to Digg Reader, you must first sign up for an invitation on the Web. From there, you should get a link to join within a few days. Also, there is an iOS app currently available to everyone, and an Android app on the way.


One of the simpler options

AOL Reader ( Web )
While there may not be anything special about AOL Reader, it is definitely good at the basics. So, if you're looking for a solid, no-frills solution for your RSS feed needs, then it's definitely worth looking into.

AOL, though it's still in beta, is really good at the basics. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

Like other readers, AOL Reader gives you a few display options to dress up your feeds. You can look at headlines in a list or get a more spread-out look in multiple columns with Card View. There's also Full View, and a nifty split-screen pane view, which keeps headlines up top and opens full stories down below. Also, the layout and keyboard shortcuts should feel familiar to Google Reader users.

Right now, AOL Reader is still in beta, but it's easy enough to create an account or sign in with your Twitter, Facebook, Google, or old AOL account (if you still have one). But because there's no one-click sync option, you'll have to upload the OPML file from Google Takeout in order to import your Google Reader subscriptions.

 

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