Four Ways to Catch Up with News (Now that Google Reader is Gone)

Yahoo Contributor Network

You can't download its app in the Google Play store anymore, and the website is being "retired" on July 1 according to Google's blog. But during its heyday, Google Reader was a popular way to keep track not just of news updates, but of new stuff on pretty much any site on the web. And unlike on Twitter, where an important update or sale might get buried in between your friends' pictures of lunch, Google Reader kept track of which stories you had and hadn't read, and showed "unread" counts for each individual site.

Not all of these sites work like that; some are more like Twitter, except without your friends' lunch. But here are a few alternatives you can use to catch up with news and your favorite websites, once Google Reader gets past its expiration date.

Flipboard

Flipboard is a colorful newsmagazine app, that's free to download for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, and Nook. And it's "got your RSS covered," according to the Flipboard blog; if you were a Google Reader fan, you can import all your subscriptions by following its instructions.

(RSS, or "Really Simple Syndication," is the technology that Google Reader used to be able to follow any website.)

Pulse

Pulse is sort of like Flipboard, in that it's an ad-supported newsmagazine app with big, bright pictures and headlines. It's also available on all the same platforms as Flipboard. The biggest difference is that you can also get to Pulse on the web, so you can catch up on your reading on your PC or Mac. And you can import your stuff from Google Reader there, too.

Feedly

Feedly is sort of like Flipboard and Pulse, but also contains a list view of stories complete with unread counts. It's available on iOS and Android devices, as well as through Chrome and Firefox web browser plugins.

According to the Feedly blog, Google Reader's shutdown is "something we have been expecting for some time." The blog contains detailed instructions for switching over, and for using Feedly the way people used Google Reader. Feedly's website says more than 500,000 Google Reader users have switched over since Google's announcement was made.

NewsBlur

NewsBlur is a lot like Google Reader circa 2011, complete with unread counts and social features. Each user has a "Blurblog" which is like a Twitter stream of stuff that they share from their reading. It has a Google Reader import feature that's extremely fast and efficient. NewsBlur also has iOS and Android apps.

The catch? Free accounts only get up to 64 sites they can follow. (Free account creation is also temporarily suspended, although you might be able to log in anyway like I did.) This is because instead of putting ads in your reading the way Flipboard, Feedly and Pulse do, NewsBlur puts limits on how much free accounts can use the service, and then offers a premium service for $2 a month -- up from $1 a month just a few days ago, presumably to capitalize on demand.

Make your own

If you have your own web hosting or virtual private server, you can download the open-source NewsBlur code, or an alternative called Tiny Tiny RSS. Both also come with an Android app.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

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