RSS, following blogs, and Google Reader

Back before July 2013, life was grand! From my computer, laptop, phone, or tablet, I could open my favorite app which used Google Reader for keeping track of my RSS feeds. From those apps, I could quickly go through blog posts, podcasts, and even quickly and easily share a link on Twitter – or email a friend or co-worker. Whenever I added/removed a feed or simply viewed an item, that change showed up on all of my devices. It was great!

Google Reader was a website, sure – but they also had an API, so they ended up kind of being a database for all of the RSS feeds that you follow. Life was great, nothing needed to change! But then change came. Google decided to stop supporting Google Reader.

Post July 2013, I tried several other apps. None synchronized, so I catch up reading on one device, and maybe add a new feed – and then on my other devices, I’d had remember to do exactly the same thing. There were a few paid apps and pay services too – but I didn’t find anything compelling, and certainly nothing that crossed the technology platforms I was/am using.

There is exactly one exception that has the best potential though:

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That is, http://reader.aol.com/

The Downside:
Let me start with the downside. There is an OAuth API for it, so it’s wide open for developers to write apps for it, for every platform. However, there aren’t any right now. At least, nothing on iOS, WinRT, and WP8.

The Upshot:
The web interface is modern and nice. It’s not a responsive design, so it’s not going to be great on a phone. However, it is more than reasonable on a PC and a tablet.

It’s not just that, though. There are a couple other things worth mentioning. First, I created a Chrome “app” out of it, and pinned it to my task bar in Windows, which makes it easy to use there:

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Next, one of the main things I like to do is use Twitter to publish interesting things I find. Not only can I easily copy from this app and paste into the WinRT Twitter app I have pinned on the right-side of the screen, since I logged into the AOL Reader with my twitter account, I’m already logged in. So, if I like a story, I click:

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It then comes up in a Twitter window with the link, the title – but the title is highlighted which means I can immediately start typing to overwrite it (nice little feature):

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Bottom Line:
If you are a developer on ANY platform, this is my cry for help – if you are looking for an app to write, PLEASE write an AOL Reader app for your platform. I don’t care about Android, but iOS, WP8, or WinRT would be great!

As for everyone else, if you are looking for a Google Reader replacement, this seems to be a decent alternative for now, and hopefully will only get better. I’m mostly excited to start getting current with technology again. For a while, without the tools I knew, I really lost a significant mechanism for keeping up!

Posted in Computers and Internet, General, Organization will set you free, Professional Development, Uncategorized

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