Brett Molina, USA TODAY
Today, fans of Google's popular Reader application will bid farewell.
Google shuts down Reader on July 1, citing a drop in usage and a shift toward a smaller selection of Google services.
If you're a Google Reader user, now's the time to export your subscriptions. Users can do this by going to Settings, Import/Export and follow the steps to export your subscriptions through Google Takeout, which will download to a computer in a ZIP folder. Most RSS readers will let you import subscriptions (saved as an XML file) easily.
Since Google announced Reader's demise in March, several other options have emerged to potentially fulfill your RSS needs. Here are five alternatives to consider.
Feedly. As of right now, this is the best option in a Google Reader free world. It's flexible, so users can opt for the traditional Google Reader list appearance, or go for a more dynamic magazine view. Feedly also offers the best selection of sharing options, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Pocket, Instapaper and Evernote. Users can click a Save For Later bookmark as well for reading directly on the app. The service works great as a browser extension on Chrome, Firefox or Safari (and standalone Web client), and features a native app for Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
The Old Reader. For those users seeking just the basics, The Old Reader is a strong choice. Designed to look very similar to Google Reader, The Old Reader is simple and easy to use. Importing and adding feeds is easy, but it seems sharing is limited to the service. So, it's tough to directly share to social networks. But for users who want feeds on the go, Old Reader will work with the iOS app Feeddler.
Flipboard. The mobile app for iOS and Android opts for a more visual approach to story syndication, presenting feeds in a magazine-style format. Along with RSS feeds, users can add updates from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, "flipping" pages with simple swipes on the touchscreen. Simiilar to notetaking app Evernote, Flipboard allows users to clip content from the Web to display in a digital magazine for their mobile devices. The big drawback to Flipboard is users can't read their feeds on a desktop or laptop. It's for smartphones and tablets only.
AOL Reader. One of two new entrants into the RSS reader market, AOL Reader has promise. Several views are available, from a traditional list to a pane view similar to the Microsoft Outlook email client. Users can share stories to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, as well as star items for later reading. However, I couldn't find any options for saving to offline services such as Pocket. Also, feeds didn't seem to update as quickly as other options, but that should improve over time. A native Android and iOS app is coming soon, the reader still functions nicely on a mobile browser. Among other options AOL plans to add soon: Search, Notifications and sharing with other AOL Reader users.
Digg Reader. It's only 24 hours old, but the newest RSS reader from Digg is a clean, simple choice. Sharing is limited to Twitter and Facebook, but users can set up connections to Pocket, Instapaper or Readability to view content later. Users can "Digg" stories, which bolsters a cool Popular section that breaks down the most popular stories appearing on your RSS. There are some important functions missing, such as "Mark as Unread" and "View Unread Items Only" options, but Digg says they plan to add those features quickly.