Why Feedly is the Best Google Reader Replacement

By now we've all heard that, as of July 1st, Google Reader will be no more.

Many users are busy lamenting the loss, but Feedly sees this as their golden opportunity. In fact, the news couldn't have been better for the Feedly team.

RSS is not dead, but the web desperately needs a company to take the reigns, and, arguably, no company is in a better position to do so than Feedly, who built their entire product around the Google Reader platform.

Here's a quick rundown of what Feedly offers, and a (subjective) take on why it's the best Reader replacement.

First, and perhaps foremost, Feedly is ubiquitous. It's available for the web as a Chrome Firefox, and Safari app, and on Android and iOS. That's important, because you don't want to read the same thing twice, and Feedly syncs all your read items across platforms.

Above are two views of Feedly for the web. On the left is the default magazine-style layout. On the right, however, is a very Google Reader-esque list-style layout. This is no accident. Navigation can be accomplished via very familiar keyboard shortcuts, too: j/k for scrolling, v to open the article in a new tab- just like Google Reader. There are also a couple of extras: t to tweet an article, for example.

The article layout also happens to be a bit more well-designed than Reader:

One of Reader's best features was the 'explore' section, which offered feed recommendations based on your current subscriptions. If you'd browsed it in the past year or so, however, you'll have noticed that the feature had gone quite downhill.

Feedly's explore section is simple and yet robust. Clicking the search icon presents some pre-packaged bundles, like 'Apple,' 'Design,' 'Architecture,' and a 'Starter Kit.' Adding an entire bundle is as simple as a click.

Adding an individual feed from around the web is easy, too. Much like Reader, there's an 'add a subscription' button in the top of the left sidebar. Once you've installed the Chrome app, any RSS feeds you click will automatically be imported into Feedly- again, much like Google Reader.

Then there's the sharing options. Feedly makes it a breeze to send items directly from the app to other services. You can connect your Instapaper or Pinboard account, for example, to integrate them with the share button. Preexisting buttons are presented inline with the article, too, to send to the typical places, like Google+, Facebook, even Buffer.

All this is not to mention the design, which, despite the recent redesign of all of Google's services, is far more striking than Reader's offering. You can even change the background in the preferences, of which there are many to tweak Feedly to your liking.

The Chrome app also gives you a sharing bar, which is presented as a small layover on every website you visit. You can adjust its position, the apps it can share to, and even blacklist it on certain websites if you choose. The result is a built-in sharing tool that can replace many others. If you have an extension to share to Google+, Evernote, and Pinboard, you can now replace them all with Feedly.

The mobile app is no less stunning than its desktop counterpart.

The mobile app happens to contain one of my favorite features: an article cleaner. Feedly mobile uses a built-in browser, so when you open an article's original source, it opens in Feedly's own browser, the top of which contains a small button. Simply press it, and all the clutter is stripped away, leaving you with pure, clean text (and, if applicable, images).

These are just a few of the reasons that I think Feedly is the most suitable replacement. The Google Reader-esque features make it familiar and easy to use, and the additional features give it added functionality without making the app feel bloated.

The most important aspect, though, I've left out. Google had so strongly cornered the market on RSS that almost everything built on RSS worked off of Reader. Someone else now has to step up and fill that role to ensure that RSS stays as ubiquitous and useful as it has been. Feedly has already built a clone of the Google Reader API, which means two things. One, Google Reader users will be able to transition seamlessly to Feedly, provided they sign up for Feedly before the shutdown and connect Feedly with their Reader account. Two, and perhaps more importantly, Feedly plans on releasing the API. That means that developers will be able to build the same apps for Feedly as they would have (or are) for Reader without missing a beat. Building a solid ecosystem is the key to online success these days, and Feedly knows it. I, for one, am excited to see what's built on top of the Feedly platform.

It seems that many users agree with me: Feedly is already the number one free app in the news section of the app store.

Bonus: Here are some tips for migrating from Reader to Feedly.

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