Next week, Google is sending another one of its products to the grave. Back in March, the company announced that Google Reader, its RSS application that debuted in 2005, was joining other products like Google Wave and Google Desktop in the Google afterlife.
Even though millions of news junkies relied on product, Google signaled to the world that there really wasn't a place for an RSS reader anymore. With many using Twitter, Facebook and social media feeds to get news, RSS seemed like an unneeded option.
RSS, for those who have never really known what it is, is a way of syndicating news headlines and articles. With an RSS app or reader, you can plug in an RSS feed or website address and get news articles and headlines without having to go to each website. It's like a customized newspaper with multiple sources.
Yet, since the news was delivered about Google Reader's July 1 death date, companies have come out of the woodwork with new RSS reader applications, proving that the news reader app or RSS might not be dead after all.
Feedly, an RSS or news-reading app, has made it easier for people to migrate their Google Reader feeds over to its service and has gained 8 million users since the shutdown news. The company has been improving its Web and mobile apps, too, to prepare for the shutdown. And then there are companies like Digg and AOL, which have taken the opportunity to build brand-new reader apps to fill the gap left by Google.
"A lot of people's reaction is: 'RSS readers are so tired and dead. Why would you do this?'" Digg CEO Andrew McLaughlin told ABC News last week. "The way to think about this is that all over the world a vast and growing number of people are reading in digital formats. People want to be able to read stuff and they want to do it in a beautiful, simple way."
Digg certainly is not alone in that mission. As Google prepares for the big shutdown on July 1, these news applications have been preparing and polishing up their offerings. In addition, there already were a number of mobile news applications.
Here are some of the best apps for getting your news on your computer, phone and tablet.
Feedly has certainly reaped the benefits of Google leaving the RSS space, and that is, in part, because of its very compelling suite of news reading apps. The Web app is very clean and organized. You can easily import your Google Reader collection of RSS feeds or add various news content from a series of news categories, including tech, fashion and entertainment. Each news story is displayed with a thumbnail photo to make it easier on the eyes. You can also save each article if you want to read it later or save it to a special folder.
But the best part about Feedly might be that it works across your devices. You can check your news on your laptop at work, then pick up on your iPhone or Android phone through its dedicated apps and then move on to your iPad later in the evening. The iPad app is particularly well-designed and sleek. Everything is in sync, too, so you won't have to see the same article twice.
Digg's offering is just about ready for the world to see, the company said. The Web and iOS apps roll out to everyone today, June 26. However, unlike Feedly, it really does feel like a work in progress. The Web app, which has been updated a number of times in the last week, isn't as visually appealing. The list view is the most efficient way to look at your news because the expanded view has a lot of white space and doesn't always populate with a photo from articles.
Still, the service offers the basics -- an easy way to import your Google Reader feeds, an easy way to add content by just looking at different news categories, and ways to save the article or read it later through third-party services like Instapaper or Pocket. Digg plans to release its iPad and iPhone app on June 26; the Android app will come later.
Don't worry, you don't need to dig up your old AOL account to log into AOL's Reader. The Web application allows you to log in with your Twitter, Google or Facebook accounts. You can also import your Google Reader RSS feeds, though not as easily as with Digg and Feedly. Still, AOL makes it easy to get new content with a selection of different news sources in various categories.
Similar to Feedly, there are a few different layout formats, including an attractive "Card View" mode that puts the headline and lead image of every article in a box. You can easily star articles you like to read them later too. But where AOL drops the ball is on cross-platform support. While AOL says an iPad and mobile apps are on the way, they aren't out yet.
While all the previous options are largely focused on news feeds and reading on the Web, Flipboard is completely focused on social and mobile. With the Android and iOS app, you log into your Facebook and Twitter accounts and the service formats all of the news articles and photos your friends share on those into a sleek, magazine-like format. You can also subscribe to specific news category magazines -- for instance, Tech or Politics. Tap on the magazine and you can flip through the pages of articles.
Recently, Flipboard updated the app to allow you to curate your own magazines. For instance, I made one called "Cute Puppies" that pulls from a number of puppy sites and feeds. You can add those feeds through the Web, but that's really the only non-app feature offered. Other people can subscribe to that magazine, too. The app is one of the best for the iPad and Android tablets. It delivers media rich content in a beautiful format.
News360 has a similar take: It is completely focused on mobile. You also sign into this iOS and Android app with your Twitter and Facebook accounts to customize what sort of news you like. However, with News360, the app also asks you what types of news you like and learns your news reading habits as you read and tap on specific articles. The interface isn't as snazzy as Flipboard's, but each article appears in a cube, which you can swipe to turn and get related content suggestions.