You may not be old enough to have experienced Google Reader, but the beloved RSS feed reader was the perfect solution for ingesting news without all the noise. Just a bare-bones list of headlines curated by you, the reader.
What could be more useful material than subjects and items that you specify? It made the morning ritual a truly blissful habit.
But, seemingly just when you had the perfect amount of sources carefully categorized, Google announced it was discontinuing the service due to a declining user base. Business is business, and although Google cited dwindling interest, the audience actively using the service displayed utmost devotion.
I distinctly remember the feeling of despair in the waning moments of Google Reader. A sense of abandonment. You think I’m sensationalizing this? All hope was lost.
A product developed out of sheer necessity. A service that would put its arms around the hundreds of thousands of fallen souls to resurrect this once proud faction of netizens.
Ok, clearly sensationalizing. But still … Feedly was in existence prior to the Google Reader shut-down, however the once small platform instantly gained 500,000 new users in 2013 as a result. Having long since established itself as a premiere news aggregator since those early days, how does Feedly stack up nowadays with so many alternatives?
As an early adopter I had the ability to import all of my existing Google Reader feeds to Feedly, so I was instantly up an running. If you are just starting out from scratch, it is just a matter of either registering for an account or signing in with your existing Google profile.
From there you can choose from a collection of topics, search for sources or enter an exact RSS feed if you’re not finding what you’re looking for. Once you start adding sources, you can assign them to categories and begin to organize your news feed.
The News Feed
The viewing experience has always been buttery smooth and the content quick to load. These are rather important factors when choosing among similar apps, and Feedly absolutely perfects this immediacy. Along with function comes fashion, and there are several different layouts to choose from including Detect (based on the content being rendered), Title Only, List, Magazine and Cards.
Other cosmetic components include “Open Animation” (when tapping on articles), “Transition” (the style with which you navigate through your news feed) and “Theme” which is simply light or dark mode.
Feedly has a lot going for it. The overall minimal experience should not be confused with having a lack of bigness. Under the hood, users can connect to saving tools like Pocket, Evernote, etc. and assign favorite sharing methods. But one feature that Feedly has that many will appreciate is a desktop presence.
This alternative destination includes options to upgrade to paid tiers for unlocking some more business-focused features such as team collaboration and deeper third party integrations.
From a purely functional standpoint, it’s hard to find many other news readers to get me completely off of Feedly. But I sure as hell have tried. And there are a few main reasons for me test driving other apps.
The first being my indifference toward the aesthetics. One can’t really say Feedly is ugly, but it needs to be more modern or “materialized.” Which could be a result of my next item of agony and that is very infrequent updates. In their defense though, the team is currently undergoing a beta project in collaboration with users to gain feedback for upcoming app enhancements.
The main stickler, however, is the inability to search my entire news feed (sources) for a keyword or phrase.
The usefulness of that type of function cannot be understated. I have a slew of news in my face, but want to see if there is an article on, say, “Black Ops 4?” Well damn I should be able to pinpoint that.
A now-defunct app (taptu) had this feature and spoiled me. Although I typically have Feedly installed, I have definitely flirted with the likes of Palabre (Material Design and keyword search).
Always a Contender
Feedly does way more things right than wrong. It’s a solid performer and is not too bloated or distracting (ahem, Flipboard).
My dislikes are not deal-breakers and what some other readers might do better, just simply cannot compete with the speed at which I get my news within Feedly. Qualms aside, Feedly will most assuredly have a spot in my app rotation.