RIP Google Reader, ignored by many, loved by few

The service is being shut down, with Google giving users just over three months to set up their RSS feeds elsewhere

If you have a Google account, and if you're reading this on a computer you most likely do, you'll probably have used it to sign in to Gmail, or maybe YouTube, Google Maps or its burgeoning social network Google+.

Fewer Google users use Google Reader, one of the company's slightly more niche services (like 3D model builder SketchUp, or the social organiser Groups), which is why – to the dismay of those who organised their reading around its RSS feed collection – Google announced it was binning the service on 1 July.

Reader is a service which allows you to select the websites you want to read – say independent.co.uk/football – and it will automatically sync any article published by the site with the your Reader account on your computer or phone. The result is a personalised newswire, a service that's indispensable for many – particularly some journalists – which is perhaps why the outcry at its closure was so loud yesterday. At the time of writing, 50,000 people had signed a petition at change.org to keep it open. 

It may well have been the continued rise of Twitter which did for Google Reader. Most news sources will have Twitter feeds putting out their content as soon as it goes live. And, if you're following the right people, the best stories will be recommended to you without having to sift through Reader. The service quickly filled up with stories too, making it difficult to pick out the ones you were most keen to read.

Though some, like CNET's Scott Stein, have rubbished the comparison. Stein tweeted "Google Reader is to Twitter as a well-labelled filing cabinet is to a bag of insane cats."

So if Twitter isn't a direct replacement, then what are people who relied on Google Reader for their news supposed to use? Members of the Reddit community quickly offered a few suggestions on a thread mourning the demise of Reader, including the paid-for Fever, the long-running Netvibes (which offers easy Reader migration) as well as an independent take on Google's product called The Old Reader. 

The death of services we rely on is an inevitable consequence of free web services which require large user bases to be profitable to advertisers. For instance, Posterous, the mobile blogging platform acquired by Twitter in 2012 will be shut down at the end of April. Google is particularly brutal when it comes to ending services – mainly because it has launched so many. Anyone remember Google Notebook? Which allowed you to take notes while browsing. Or, did you ever sign up for its fledgling social network Buzz, whose first hit on the search engine reads "Google Buzz has gone away."

Dan Worth, news editor of technology website V3, understands users' annoyance at losing favourite services but suggests that – like when a beloved high street store fails – there's not much they can do: "It's understandably frustrating when a service is discontinued but mostly firm's make these decisions for their own reasons, rather than the users, especially when the service was free to begin with."

If there's a product you can't work without maybe, hints Worth, have a few alternatives ready and back up the information you've got save on them: "The internet makes seems thing very tangible but if the company behind a product goes bust, is bought, changes market or some other reason, there's little that can be done. Backing data up to your own laptop is always a sensible idea and most firms will give you notice and a chance to export content from their service before it disappears."

Which gives Google Reader readers three and a half months to set up their RSS feeds elsewhere. And maybe take some solace in the news that while Google can read your email, know what videos you're watching and what websites you're looking at, it will no longer know which news feeds you use. Take that Sergey! 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Liverpool - up to £28,000

    £22000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This is a large multi-site operation...

    Recruitment Genius: Salesforce Developer

    £50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued business growt...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £14000 - £37500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting and technically challe...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Account Manager

    £18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The flat management structure a...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss