It’s two weeks until Google Reader will be turned off for good. Have you found a replacement yet? I’ve been using NewsBlur for a couple of weeks and I’m pretty happy with it.
NewsBlur is very easy to set up. Like most of the top contenders for Reader’s soon-to-be-vacated crown you can log in with your Google account and have your subscriptions migrated automatically. This makes it almost effortless to try it out and see if you can imagine yourself using it full-time.
The website is your standard list of subscriptions on the left of the content panel. As you’d expect you can view one site at a time, a whole folder, or all of your subscriptions.
One small annoyance is that it loads a few articles (which it calls “stories”) at a time and when you get to the bottom you need to reload the content pane to get the next batch. This is mitigated by the fact that there’s a full set of shortcut keys to do just about everything you want without touching a mouse or trackpad. For me the process of reading is just ‘n’ to get to the next unread article, ‘o’ to open it in a new tab if I want to read it later, and the ocassional ‘r’ to get a new set of articles to scroll through.
A big selling point for me was the existence of a decent native iOS app. In the Reader days I used an iOS and Mac app called Reeder (with an e), which is a pretty frontend that used Reader (with an a) as its data provider. Switching to an app that lacked either web syncing (like a pure native app would) or offline reading without an internet connection (like a pure web app would) was out of the question. I wouldn’t say that the NewsBlur app is quite as nice as Reeder, and there’s no native app for the Mac, but it works. There’s also an Android app, though I haven’t tried it myself.
I should point out that Reeder has recently gained support for another backend, Feedbin, though I didn’t become aware of this until I had already migrated to NewsBlur. Feedbin’s $2 price tag is negligible but will probably be enough to put off a lot of users anyway.
NewsBlur is, incredibly, a one-person operation. Samuel Clay has been building it since 2009 as, he says, “a labour of love”. The recent influx of new users fleeing a sinking Reader have no doubt helped the labour along. Hopefully some of those new users have opted for NewsBlur’s premium option, which costs $2 a month in exchange for lifting the 64 feed limit that’s placed on free accounts, speeding up fetching, and some other smaller benefits.
There are also some social features around sharing stories, much like Reader used to have. You can find me — though I haven’t got into the habit of sharing things yet — at roryparle.newsblur.com.