Google+, minus Google Reader

Google Reader is being shut down because people are not sharing enough content on Google+, says a former Google Reader product manager. The Reader was being kept alive to drive content to Google+, but it did not do so, says Brian Shih, speaking from his own experience.

Google’s big hit in social media has been YouTube rather than Google+. In a blog post last week, YouTube announced: “YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.”

Powering this growth, it said, is Gen C (C stands for content) – youngsters born between 1988 and 1993 — who, according to the Google Agency Blog, watch YouTube “on all screens, all the time”.

That brings YouTube neck and neck with Facebook which reports “more than a billion active users as of December 2012.”Continue Reading

Six Google Reader alternatives

Google Reader will be shutting down on July 1. I love Google Reader, have been using it for years, but there are alternatives to Google Reader, which I have been using as well, and which you may try.

NewsBlur: This looks most like Google Reader. Free NewsBlur accounts, where you can currently follow only up to 12 sites, have been temporarily suspended, apparently because a flood of new users have been signing up following the news of Google Reader’s imminent shutdown. Premium accounts have access to unlimited sites.


Feedly: I love it. And it’s free. It synchronizes with Google Reader, but when the Reader shuts down, Feedly will transition to a new system called Normandy, which is a clone of the Google Reader API running on Google App Engine, that will keep things running smoothly, or so it says. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Flipboard: I have been been reading my Google Reader feeds on Flipboard for some time, and so can you. Just sign in to your Google Reader account via Flipboard. Your feeds will be saved. You can add other RSS feeds as well to Flipboard.

Google Currents: You can add your Google Reader feeds to Google Currents, too, the Google news reader for phones and tablets.

Netvibes: You can import your Google Reader feeds into Netvibes as well.

The Old Reader: I just signed up for The Old Reader, a free news aggregator similar to the Google Reader. It reports getting lots of new users, too. Check it out.

Here’s how you can import your Google Reader feeds into NewsBlur, Feedly, The Old Reader and Netvibes.

  • Go to your Google Reader settings.
  • Click on the Export/Import tab.
  • Click on the link which says: Download your data through Takeout.
  • Click on the button: Create Archive.
  • This will create a zip file which you can download.
  • Select the subscriptions.xml file inside the zip file.
  • Import the subscriptions.xml into your NewsBlur, Feedly, Netvibes or The Old Reader account.

On Flipboard, you simply have to sign in to your Google account. However, Flipboard, like Google Currents, is available only on phones and tablets, not on desktops like the others.

And, of course, you can follow the news on Facebook and Twitter.

Digg is also building a news reader which it expects to have up and running later this year.

Still, I will miss Google Reader; I loved it all these years.

The Straits Times, Today on Google Reader

Now that the Singapore newspaper Straits Times has launched RSS feeds, its counterpart Today has also shown up on my Google Reader! I found it today on the Recommended list which Google Reader automatically creates based on my reading habits.

But Singapore newspaper RSS feeds are yet to become wildly popular. Guess how many subscribers The Straits Times Blogs has? Three. On Google Reader, that is. How do I know? Because after seeing Today on my Google Reader, I clicked on the "Add Subscription" box and keyed in the words "Straits Times" in the search field. But the only Straits Times feed that showed up on Google Reader was The Straits Times Blogs. "3 subscribers", "10.3 posts per week," Google Reader said helpfully.

Malaysia's New Straits Times Online has 76,909 subscribers. That also showed up when I searched for the Straits Times on Google Reader.

But give the Straits Times time. It launched its redesigned website with RSS buttons only last Friday. Its sister paper Business Times has 2,323 subscribers on Google Reader. No doubt, there are others subscribing on other news readers such as FeedDemon. But why didn't any other Straits Times RSS feed show up on Google Reader? Of course, one can subscribe to all the Straits Times feeds by visiting the Straits Times website and clicking on the RSS buttons. 

I am surprised Singapore newspapers have been so slow to adopt RSS. Indian newspapers adopted the technology a long time ago, so I don't have to visit their websites, I can read them on My Yahoo!, Google Reader or any other news reader.