Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Google Reader, Bloglovin' and Feedly

Joe and I both spend our day jobs developing software in our different ways. We both enjoy playing with technology and announcements such as the closure of Google Reader at the start of July send us straight to the internet to dig out alternatives.

Not heard of Google Reader? Its a very nifty tool that goes to all the blogs you like to catch up on and checks to see if there's any new posts. If there are then it puts them all on one website for you to read at your leisure. It makes it much easier to keep on top of blog life and means you don't miss that vital post when it comes. Both Joe and I were big Google Reader users.

So what next? Fortunately Google Reader is not the only option out there, and Joe and I have gone our separate ways in a bid to find something that suits our reading habits. I thought I'd deviate a little from our normal posts and share with you here what we've chosen and why in the hope that it might help those of you trying to make a similar decision, and maybe encourage those of you who haven't used a blog reader before to give it a go.

This isn't a comprehensive review of all the alternatives, just the ones we picked (both of which seem fairly popular). Both AOL and Digg are launching their own readers soon but we didn't want to hang around waiting!

Bloglovin'



Personally I decided to make the switch to Bloglovin. I liked the clean layout, and at first glance it looked a lot like Google Reader to use. Then I discovered the thing that made me like it most. A lot of blog readers take the post you're wanting to read - the text and the photos - and put it onto their own site. Google reader does this, and the end result looks something like this:


You end up with the essence of the blog - but you don't see the blog itself. If you want to leave a comment, or explore other areas of the site you have to follow the link through to the original site. Don't get me wrong - I used Google Reader for years without thinking about this so it can't be that bad. Bloglovin takes a different approach though. It takes you to the original blog for each post you want to read - you get to see all the effort the different bloggers have put into making it look good and its easier to leave comments and see what else is going on. When you're ready to look at the next blog with a new post you can use the toolbar that Bloglovin puts at the top of the screen to jump straight to it which is really handy.



One interesting side note is that while they do have a set of apps I still choose to visit the website as the app versions don't take you to the original blogs in the way I've just been describing. Instead they pull the content from the blog into their own simpler format, which for me looses the point.

I read a lot of personal and lifestyle blogs and find that Bloglovin lets me do that in a really nice way, but there are other alternatives out there. I'll let Joe say a little bit about why he has chosen to use Feedly:

Feedly

I went for Feedly. Easy integration with my Google account meant no fussing with registration. The overview has 4 levels of detail, from a list of titles to whole articles on a summary - I tend to run in "magazine" mode which you can see above. I like to see the pictures - several of the blogs I follow are either webcomics or do single photo posts. The reading mode works quite well - click on an article and it smoothly expands its section (below left). It doesn't always work but for those times there is a full preview mode that tries to load the site in a window (below right), or if that fails the usual link to the original (use your imagination).
When on holiday I discovered the perks of its quite nice iOS app (but then everyone has an app).

The one thing I currently miss on feedly is the lack of a notification icon for chrome. There is a full feedly plugin that is nice but no notifier for the number of unread items!
It is rumoured to be in development and given the mass exodus from google they have been working hard on new features!


Both Feedly and Bloglovin make the transition from Google Reader really easy with one click "import" buttons to move all your subscriptions over, and to make it even easier to add The Urban Cottage to your reading list I've found a couple of buttons for you.

Follow on Bloglovin follow us in feedly

I really hope all this helps :)

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