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.

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What’s This RSS Thing Anyway?

I’m sure you’ve seen the “radio wave” orange icon on numerous sites before; there’s one at the top of this blog as well, followed by the letters “RSS”. But what exactly is this thing, and why should you even care about it anyway?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” (no, seriously) and it’s at the heart of blogging and blogs. In fact, I consider it the beauty of blogs over old, “Web 1.0” static sites.

Using RSS, you can read your favourite blogs from wherever you are using a good RSS reader app. You can also have all your blogs within one repository, and access posts in a similar fashion to email. A popular RSS reader is the one by Google: Google Reader. Using this, you can read your blogs side-by-side, and keep up-to-date with the latest posts across blogs.

You can add my blog to your RSS reader by accessing my “RSS feed”. Each blog has its own RSS feed, a URL that allows you to access the blog’s posts and display them within your reader. My blog’s feed it: http://feeds.feedburner.com/LifeInPixels. By adding it to your feed reader, you can get my latest posts in an “inbox” along with your other favourite blogs, and never miss a beat in keeping up with your world.

If you’re a BlackBerry user (as I know many of my friends are), then check out BlackBerry’s native RSS app, called “BlackBerry News Feeds” [App World link]. This app isn’t linked to Google Reader, but rather to your BlackBerry ID. I use it extensively to read my various tech, architecture and writing blogs.

Another popular RSS reader is NetNewsWire for Mac. Windows users can check out FeedDemon.

Try RSS, and you’ll be amazed how much more information you can devour in a short space of time. Any questions about it? Feel free to drop a line in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer it.