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Interesting random stuff

Google Currents as replacement for Google Reader

Google Currents logo

On December 2011 Google introduced Currents, an RSS reader app for mobile devices with a magazine-like user interface similar to Flipboard. The application is very good-looking, they have done a great design and user experience. But before that, there was the Google Reader web service and mobile app.

The Google Reader app looks old and outdated from current Android development design standards. The product seems abandoned since Gingerbread, with a minor update for tablet layouts while Honeycomb was the latest Android version. That was about two years ago. On the web application side it also felt abandoned. I’m sure there’s been incremental minor updates and maintenance tweaks on the project, but it clearly doesn’t have the attention and priority that Gmail or YouTube have, even though it’s probably the most used online RSS feed reader.

I always wondered why Google made Currents and not update the Reader app into what Currents is. Then it was weird that Google had two products doing basically the same thing in two different ways. The fact is that Google Currents is more than just a simple RSS reader, it is a publishing platform where publishers can control and customize their content presentation and also charge for subscriptions.

So that’s why it makes sense from a business point of view to kill Google Reader. I think that Currents will be the new Reader, and for that to happen, they will release a web version of Currents and migrate everyone’s data to it. The early announcement of killing Reader can also a strategy to generate nostalgia in the users and listen to the feedback generated by everyone who will miss it. Then choose to implement the most loved features into the web version of Currents. Maybe it will be announced during the Google I/O event, which is just in time before Google Reader goes dark on July 1st 2013.

Right now you can use Currents as your feed reader, if you don’t want to host your own alternative to Google Reader. It even has an easy way to import your feeds from Reader.

Categories
GNU/Linux Free Software & Open Source

Free & Open source web based Google Reader alternatives

Google Reader logo

Google has announced that they are terminating the Google Reader application. I’ve written before about the risks of depending on web services, and well, for those users of this service, it is time to look out for options. At least they play nice and thanks to the Data Liberation Front you can export all your data for other services.

Google Reader will not be available after July 1, 2013

I’ve seen many posts about alternative RSS feed readers out there. But when they talk about open source feed readers they refer to desktop clients, and when they don’t make the freedom distinction, they mention proprietary web services. But these days, with all the mobility and multiple devices, who wants a desktop feed reader?

If you are worried about another web service you love to use might go dark in the future, there is hope. Here are some good free and open web based RSS feed reader clients you can use as Google Reader alternatives and host them yourself.

Newsblur

Newsblur

A very nice looking site, with responsive design for mobile devices. You can also mute or feature certain articles based on tags found in the content. Written in Python using Django, Celery, RabbitMQ, MongoDB and PostgreSQL.

Lilina

Lilina

A PHP 5.2 based web reader with a simple interface. You can run it easily on any cheap shared hosting service.

Tiny Tiny RSS

Tiny Tiny RSS

It has a user interface very similar to Google Reader. It supports Authentication for reading protected feeds. Written in PHP 5.3 and supports MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.

Open WebReader

Open Web Reader

This is another PHP 5 based feed reader, with a little more elaborated user interface. Supports multiple users and the developers seem proud of their code being OOP and using the MVC pattern.

Yocto Reader

I know little about this one. The project’s web page is offline, but the code can be obtained from Debian repositories.

sudo aptitude install yocto-reader

Conclusion

Switching from Google Reader to another proprietary feed reader service makes little difference. It doesn’t solve the real issue, just solves the short term need before that other service decides to terminate the service as well or something weird happens. Hosting your own web based feed reader will provide you with the convenience of having your feeds available from any device anywhere, and be in control of your data and applications.