When Google announced the shutdown of Reader earlier this year, the apocalyptic cries rang out across the web. To the surprise of many, RSS is now flourishing. The web has risen to the challenge, and developers have stepped in to fill the hole left in the RSS world. From traditional readers like The Old Reader to more novel approaches, the decentralized backbone of the web is still alive, and even flourishing.
Not long ago, I went into detail about the high hopes I have for the Betaworks company, makers of Tapestry, Instapaper, and Digg, among others. Betaworks was among the companies who threw their hat into the Google-Reader-replacement ring with Digg Reader, and its simple, fast approach appealed to many. An update to the Digg app for iOS added Reader functionality shortly after Digg announced Reader, but Android users were, for the time being, left in the dark. This week, Digg changed that, releasing the long-awaited Android app.
Fanfare aside, most people have already settled on a Reader replacement: Feedly has emerged as the clear winner in this brave new RSS world. In fact, it's not even close; Feedly has snatched up the vast majority of users, and rightfully so: it's the best Reader replacement. Is Digg too late? Or can they offer something enticing enough to be competitive?
Open up the app and you'll see, without having to sign in, the same front page that digg.com offers, giving you a glimpse of the stories that the web is talking about. Clicking on a story opens it up in a clean reader view, with options to "digg" a story, save it, share it, open it in your browser, or add it to Instapaper. It's a simple, fast, readable format, much as we've come to expect from Digg.
Sign in (through Google, Facebook, or Twitter) to your existing account, and you'll see your Digg Reader feeds in the sidebar.
Again, the overall impression is simple, fast, and clean. In fact, it's simpler, faster, and cleaner than Feedly... but that doesn't mean it's ready to replace Feedly. At least, not yet.
Digg for Android is missing some key functionality, like background updating and an "Show Only Unread Items" view. Display options are also missing, but Betaworks promises that these things are on the way. I doubt that Digg Reader ever surpasses Feedly in sheer number of features, but that's kind of the point. The app is also a little buggy, and I saw some lag and glitches several times.
Bottom line: Digg Reader may become my only feed reader in the future, but it's not there yet. For now, I' m quite content to use it as my backup.