Newsblur…or How I’ll Survive The Google Reader Apocalypse

In case you haven’t heard, Google announced that they would be ending their Google Reader feed aggregation service on July 1st.  As many other users of the Google Reader service have done by now, I started to look for alternatives to keep track of the 150+ blogs that I follow.

The Reader service is, at least until July 1st, a convenient way to keep track of multiple blogs across multiple devices.  Any replacement for Google Reader would need to be usable on my iPad, my phone, and from a web browser.  A native app or a good mobile website, two things that Google Reader lacked, would be a definite plus.  Google Reader did have a mobile website, but I considered it unusable.  And while there was a nice ecosystem of mobile apps that sprung up around the Google Reader API, none of the ones that I came across were developed by Google. 

One of my other requirements for a replacement is something that I do not have to host myself.  While there options like Tiny Tiny RSS are a valid replacement option, I don’t want to have to host or manage it myself.

A few blogs had some recommendations for possible Google Reader replacements, and the one that stood out was a program called Newsblur.  Newsblur is an online RSS aggregator with a nice web interface and iOS and Android apps.

It is also open source.

After looking at Newsblur, I decided that this was my Google Reader replacement and bought a premium subscription.  A free subscription option does exist, but you are limited to 12 feeds.

Why I like Newsblur

There are a few things that I really like about Newsblur.  I like that it has several styles for consuming blog content.  If you prefer a “river of news” style, that is an option.  If you prefer to select and read each post individually, you can select each post.  There is also an option to bring in the full text of a blog post on those that only provide a snippet similar to the readability app on the iPad.

One of the other things that I really like about Newsblur is the iPad app.  The iPad app’s interface is very similar to the web interface with one nice feature added in -the ability to quickly move between articles and having them marked as read by swiping to the left or right.  This is nice when dealing with some blogs like Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog or Hack-a-Day that post extremely frequently.

What I don’t like

One of the major drawbacks of Newsblur right now is performance.  This has improved significantly has they have been adding capacity to handle the flocks of people leaving Google Reader, but there are still periods where the mobile app loads slowly or throws up time-out errors.  I expect that these will be resolved soon.

I’ve also had some issues with sharing an article directly to Facebook from the iPad.  In order to work around this, I have to open the blog post in Safari and then share it from there.  This might be an issue with the Facebook app and not with River of News.