The long death knell of Google Reader (which will be discontinued at the start of July) may be tolling, but that doesn't mean that your RSS adventures have to die just yet. If you're looking for a new RSS reader that can serve as suitable replacement, the free Feedly may fit into your online reading routine quite nicely. It acts as a browser bookmarklet for Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and it delivers news feeds to your browser and syncs to Android and iOS mobile apps, too. Lightweight and easy to use, Feedly is an RSS reader you should check out.
Setup and navigation
The Feedly entrance page has a minimalist, lime green design that has the logos of various publications arrayed along the bottom of the interface. Logging in requires the use of a Google account, which means that if you don't currently have one you'll need to create one. This may turn away some potential Feedly users, but if you already used Google Reader you'll feel right at home.
Once you grant Feedly access to your Google account, it quickly loads your homepage. This consists of three sections: The main content section (which houses Featured Stories), a column to the left of it (which showcases sections for fresh stories, saved stories, and a tool for adding new sources), and a sidebar to the right of it (which displays your feeds and a few Amazon affiliate ads). The layout is basic and easy to navigate. Feedly has several themes and category views to further customise your experience.
Note: The official Feedly blog has migration tips for a seamless transition from Google Reader which you might find handy.
Featured stories are accompanied by thumbnail images and links that let you quickly save an article or mark it as read. Saved articles remain in the main content area, but those marked as read immediately disappear to the "Saved" category and are replaced with new stories as they become available – very nice.
Featured stories, by default, are articles that were posted the day that you've accessed a feed, but if you want to see all posts from a particular source, simply click "All." You can also tag posts with keywords which act as clickable categories that let you quickly see "Laptops," for example. Feedly lacks Google's attractive Reader Play feature, but if you just want the basics without the gimmicks, you won't miss it at all.
Adding new sources is dead simple. Clicking "Add Website" opens a window that displays categories such as "Cooking," "Business," and "Gaming." Clicking a category displays numerous related sources that you either add to your subscriptions individually or as a batch. It's an excellent way to discover new content. You can add content to Feedly by searching for a source's title or entering its URL, too.
Clicking a story opens that page's content within Feedly and, depending on how the source has their RSS feed set up, you'll find either story excerpts or full articles. Naturally, you can share stories with others using email, bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, and social media.
Feedly is also available as a free Android and iOS app.
Social media angle
Feedly also taps social media to showcase links shared in your feeds. After setting up my Facebook and Twitter credentials, Feedly displayed friends' shared links in the right hand column. I found this a welcome addition as it let me see all links of interest in one convenient location.
Feedly's social media features aren't a one-way street; you can also craft messages to update your streams. This capability won't replace Hootsuite or Twitter.com, but it's a welcome addition for those times when you want to send a message in a hurry.
Google Reader is about to hit the road never to return, but Feedly is a fine substitute – and in some ways better. The social aspects, site discovery methods, and mobile apps make Feedly an RSS tool that voracious web readers should have in their toolkits.