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Google kills Reader - another nail in the coffin of RSS

Date

Gadgets on the go

Adam Turner is an award-winning Australian freelance technology journalist with a passion for gadgets and the "digital lounge room".

View more entries from Gadgets on the go

Google Reader.

Google Reader.

Once the secret sauce of the internet, RSS is being phased out by the online giants.

In a landscape dominated by format wars and legal stoushes, Really Simple Syndication has been one of the internet's great universal standards for almost 20 years. Its flexibility and openness are its strengths, but they may have also lead to its downfall.

These days people tend to use Facebook and Twitter as de facto RSS readers to monitor their favourite sites and subjects. Content providers also favour these channels as they make it easier for them to analyse and monetise their audience. The idea of giving away content via RSS also clashes with the push to build paywalls.

There was a time when RSS was the information junkie's format of choice, but major players who want to be our gateways to the web are systematically undermining one of its most important open standards. Facebook and Twitter quietly removed RSS links from their webpages over the last few years, while Google+ has never even offered RSS feeds. On the desktop, Chrome has never featured an RSS reader, while Apple also banished RSS readers from both Safari and Apple Mail with the update to Mountain Lion.

Now Google has decided to kill off its slick online RSS reader, announcing it won't be available after July 1, 2013. Of course Google has been on a push to streamline its operations and kill off many projects which haven't gone mainstream, but it's likely RSS was in its sights anyway as the search giant tries to drive users to tools such as Google+ to keep tabs on what's happening in the world.

Many third-party RSS readers, such as the slick tablet apps, can connect to Google Reader behind the scenes. If you've curated an extensive collection of RSS feeds in Google Reader, thankfully you can export them as an XML file via Google Takeout.

A new generation of web users have grown up perhaps without ever using RSS and might not appreciate the important role it has played, but that doesn't mean that RSS doesn't have a place in the world. It's still superior in many ways to its social media alternatives.

Do you still rely on RSS? What will you use to replace Google Reader?

41 comments so far

  • BUT WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Google Reader is my homepage.
    It is my gateway to everything.
    My whole computer-based life revolves around it.
    #uck you Google. #uck you right in the face.

    Commenter
    72616a
    Date and time
    March 14, 2013, 11:39AM
    • Wouldn't it be more appropriate to give a big thank you to Google for giving you a free service for all of these years?

      Commenter
      Dags
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 9:47AM
  • Frustration - opened Reader this morning and got the discontinuation notice. What a nuisance! I have no desire to use either Facebook or Twitter. What else is there? Any recommendations?

    Commenter
    ErikH
    Date and time
    March 14, 2013, 11:39AM
    • At work, we can't access FB or Twitter so the RSS feeds on my google homepage on my work PC has kept me on top of whats going on - not just general news but my industry-specific website which regularly update latest stories. I guess I will have to find another homepage!

      Commenter
      Really????
      Date and time
      March 15, 2013, 11:46AM
  • I loved it. I used it regularly. WHYYY ? :"(

    Commenter
    ____
    Date and time
    March 14, 2013, 11:39AM
    • So much for 'Don't Be Evil'. I have lost a lot of trust in them for this and other axings they've made like Google Desktop. What's next? Blogger?

      Commenter
      Sam
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 11:42AM
      • Seriously? You are saying that not providing you with a free service is evil? Unbelievable.

        Commenter
        Dags
        Date and time
        March 15, 2013, 9:48AM
    • I use Google Reader every day to follow a host of blogs and news sites. The writing has been on the wall for a while - Google has been downplaying the significance of Reader, banishing it from the menu bar at the top of their sites quite some time ago. I guess I am going to have to go out and search for a suitable replacement. Reader is/was great because you could access your feed from any computer, unlike most desktop-based apps.

      Commenter
      arb
      Date and time
      March 14, 2013, 11:49AM
      • This news has floored me. I use Google Reader every day, either using the simple but functional Google online version, or the slick Reeder app on iOS devices.

        It's how I get all my news/info from sources I frequent. I love how it keeps my RSS feeds perfectly syced between unread/read/starred etc. It means I never miss anything... when you're relying on Facebook pages or primary online sites, you're bound to miss so many articles and updates.

        Hopefully there's an alternative that works with Reeder, and that RSS will stick around. But I just can't believe I even have to seek an alternative.

        Commenter
        conditionals
        Date and time
        March 14, 2013, 12:07PM
        • Reader is my daily playground. Sad, really. Plus, it's a pity that now I am searching Reader replacement using google search.

          Commenter
          Ripinapa
          Date and time
          March 14, 2013, 12:19PM

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