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.” [Read more...]

Google Keep to challenge Evernote

Hah! As soon as Google announces it is shutting down Google Reader, it is reported to be developing a new note-taking app called Keep to challenge Evernote.

Android Police pulled this image off Google Drive before the app was taken down after being apparently inadvertently released.

[Read more...]

Feedly and other news readers

More than half a million Google Readers signed up to use Feedly within 48 hours of Google announcing it would be shutting down the Reader on July 1, reported Feedly. More than half a million! And yet such a large reader base was not enough to prevent Google from axing the Reader.

[Read more...]

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.

Google Reader recommends … BT

Surprise, surprise, Singapore Press Holdings is pushing its content, giving away its stories for free! And one doesn’t even have to ask for the stories, they poured in like unsolicited mail!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened my Google Reader last night. On the home page was a new section called Top Recommendations listing feeds I hadn’t subscribed to but which Google Reader thought, based on my reading habits, I might be interested in. And there with a couple of popular Singapore blogs, an Indian business newspaper, the literary blog Elegant Variation, the opinion section of  London’s Daily Telegraph and Forbes magazine was Singapore’s very own Business Times (BT).

I only had to click on the titles to subscribe to them or preview their latest articles first before clicking on the Subscribe button or the hyperlink, "No, thank you". Adding or deleting feeds from Google Reader is as simple as that. Subscription is just as simple on Bloglines, which has offered similar recommendations for years, but Google Reader is much faster. Rather than visit various websites to find out what they have to offer, one can simply scroll through Google Reader and call up the more interesting stories. It simply collects all the stories from the various websites one has subscribed to.

But I didn’t expect stories from the Business Times to pop up on my Google Reader. I hadn’t asked for them. Not that I am complaining. But it’s so unusual for Singapore Press Holdings to distribute its  content free of charge. Yes, the Business Times can be read online for free after 2pm every day. But its sister paper, the much more widely circulated Straits Times, gives very little away for free; one has to pay to read most of the stories.

I don’t think the Business Times (circulation 30,400,according to the SPH website) is so desperate to increase readership that it’s deliberately pushing stories like unsolicited mail. But like any other newspaper, it has an RSS feed which can be picked up by Google Reader, Bloglines, My Yahoo or any other news reader. But why send those stories to me? The Google Reader Help Centre has the answer:

"Your recommendations list is automatically generated. It takes into
account the feeds you’re already subscribed to, as well as information
from your Web History, including your location."

And so Google Reader decided to "recommend" the Business Times stories to me.

The Business Times could restrict access to its RSS feed, like the Wall Street Journal does. But it isn’t, letting Google Reader distribute it for free. That’s pushing. Thank you!