Wednesday 28 September 2016

Friday Five: The Next Generation of RSS Readers

Why it Matters by Courtney Love Gavin

As communications professionals, it’s our job to know the latest musings of key industry influencers, breaking news and what people think about our clients. An intimate knowledge of media is essential and with Google Reader we had a one-stop destination where we could stay informed and zero in on what’s important. This made the announcement of Google Reader’s looming death difficult to take at first.

Now that we’ve had time to mourn the loss of Google Reader, this week’s Friday Five explores free RSS readers and provides tips for finding the one that works best for you.

1. What to Consider

We’ve seen an eruption of “Google Reader alternatives” emerge on the RSS reader playing field, but they aren’t one-size-fits all solutions. It’s important to have an RSS reader that fits your needs. Some questions to consider are: Do you need a reader that will sync across multiple devices, store feeds offline, integrate with social media platforms or manage alerts? Most readers make it easy for former Google Reader users to switch over and import your exported feed data via Google Takeout.

2. RSS Readers

Once you’ve dialed-in what you are looking for in an RSS reader, it’s time to go shopping! For feed aggregation in browser-add on form, Feedly takes your feeds and turns them into a magazine-type view, integrates with social networks and is also available as an iOS, Kindle and Android app. (For web users, Feedly offers a helpful migration guide, which includes how to move from the “magazine” view to a tighter, Reader-like, headline view.) Feedspot, the web-based “social network for RSS readers,” allows you to follow people to see what they’re sharing and arrange your feeds into categories. While it is still invitation only, WellRead claims to learn what’s most important to each user and makes it simple to keep up with what matters by eliminating the need to search multiple sources.

3. Beyond the RSS Basics

Go beyond RSS basics with readers that offer bonus features like Bloglines Local, which presents hyper-local content from cities across the U.S. For example, if you select “Atlanta, GA,” it will display a list of local blogs, recent tweets, business services by category and upcoming events. Another is Rolio, a real-time RSS feed that integrates your Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timeline, into an aggregated, visually appealing, news feed.

4. Ripe for Innovation

With Google’s departure announcement the RSS space is ripe for innovation, including one alternative from tech veteran Digg, who is launching a reader to serve as a Google Reader replacement. Another route some companies are taking is tracking user behavior to surface the most relevant content. Take Trapit, Siri’s sibling for search and discovery. With Trapit, simply type in a word or phrase about what you’re interested in and then its AI does the rest. Over time you train the app to give you quality results and save articles to Instapaper and Evernote – available via web browser and iPad.

5. RSS Reader for Alerts

With Google Reader on its way out, the question of how to manage Google Alerts without overflowing your inbox arises. The answer: Talkwalker Alerts. The interface is nearly identical to Google Alerts and gives you the option to import your current alerts. Being a freshly launched product, it’s more likely that its developers will update it regularly to improve it further.

What RSS readers do you use and what do you use them for?

Image credit: Orin Zebest

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