Using Feedly as a Google Reader Replacement

Despite being a heavy user of RSS feeds, the announcement of Google killing their Reader app didn’t affect me much. While I used to use Reader a lot, since I moved to BlackBerry in 2010, I found that the lack of a single good, free RSS reader app that synced to Google Reader forced me to search for an alternative platform. That’s when I discovered BlackBerry News, a Blackberry-designed app that synced with my BlackBerry ID and allowed me to keep up with my favourite blogs and topics – except that it didn’t sync to Google’s services.

But my move to BlackBerry News mitigated my reliance on the Google Reader platform, to the extent that I wouldn’t even login to the service for months at a time.

Since Reader was axed on July 1st, and with the sudden renewed interest in RSS and reader apps, I decided to check out an alternative to Reader, just in case I wanted to stop using BlackBerry News, and also because I plan on moving away from the BlackBerry platform in a few months time and will be in need of a good reader.

That’s when I found out about Feedly. It’s a free, web-based service that is beautifully designed and also has apps for iPad and iPhone.

Feedly uses your Google account credentials to sign in, and allows you to add feeds by categories (so far I’ve got three categories – News, Tech and Business). You can read your feeds in various formats, including a Flipboard-esque “magazine” view.

Feedly has many traces of the old Google Reader design, which means that us veteran Reader users will feel right at home using it. But it’s also got some awesome new additions, such as a “Today” view that creates different “editions” with top stories collated in a beautiful interface.

I’m enjoying using Feedly, and look forward to trying it out on iOS soon.

BlackBerry’s Return: Here’s what I think

I’ve been following the regeneration of the BlackBerry brand for some time now. And with the launch of their “redemption” effort, the new Z10, I’ve decided to weigh-in on the debate. Granted, it’s a bit late, but hey – I can’t help get excited when a new contender enters the smartphone arena. Especially when that contender was a previous king, and had been dethroned by an ambitious young upstart.

So, when Apple announced the iPhone, they really shook the mobile space with a groundbreaking new way of interacting with a mobile device. The touchscreen became a major interface between human and technology, and the concept of the “app” propagated itself with the rise of Apple’s App Store, and the subsequent follow-ups by its competitors (Android Marketplace, BlackBerry App World).

Thus, I feel that BlackBerry’s Z10 enters the picture a few years too late (and a few years, in the technology space, is a really long time). iPhone and Android have established themselves as strong contenders. Windows Phone OS has been a constant third player, never quite cutting it to be part of the “cool club” of the first two, but always a potent alternative. With the recent Nokia-Microsoft mobile partnership, we’ve seen the brand hit quite well too. But as for BlackBerry…?

BlackBerry hedges its hopes on this new platform. And it does deliver some interesting innovations – the user experience is refreshing, and there are a few nifty additions like the timeshift camera, flick-to-type keyboard and “flow”. But again, the real test rests in whether these features can lure users so embedded in the Andorid or iOS ecosystems, because that’s the true market BlackBerry will need to be after.

What the company truly needs – more than just fancy new features and a slick new operating system – is to create this ecosystem. To create an holistic platform that can rival the might of iOS and Android. And I’m afraid that they might be too late to the party to really get hold of that already-set market… for the future of the company and its employees, I truly hope they can make it happen.