Feedly explored: Is it good enough to replace Google Reader?
Following Google's announcement last week that it will be killing off Google Reader on 1 July, one company in particular stepped in quickly (within the day) to fill the gap. Feedly has been around since 2008, but its latest approach to draw in Google Reader users has begun to work its magic.
Feedly has announced that more than 500,000 Google Reader users joined the service within 48 hours of Google's announcement, subsequently leading Feedly to increase its bandwidth 10x and add new servers.
The influx of users came primarily from Feedly's "Normandy" system which it pushed quickly after launch. Simply, if a user logs-in to Feedly using a Google Reader account before 1 July, all of their content will migrate seamlessly, without any effort from the user. The ease of migration Feedly has isn't the only thing going for it, rather its features, customisation and UI make you want to stay. We've been using Feedly at Pocket-lint and have come to like it.
To begin using Feedly, you log in through a Google Reader account using the company's iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox or Safari application. While it has the feel of a website, you should think of accessing Feedly like an application.
The home page of Feedly presents featured articles from RSS feeds. The "Featured" section at the top takes three stories from across the feeds that it thinks you'll enjoy most and below more stories are listed. The home page also features a small list of publications that you've chosen in Feedly, a finance section for stocks, and the ability to connect a Twitter and Facebook account to pull links from friends.
Like Reader, using Feedly allows you to save articles for later reading, thanks to a "save" button on each article. The articles are then curated into a "saved" section of the website where they can be read when you get a break in your busy day.
The add website section is a pre-selected list of publications to look through. Categories range from Android, branding, cinema, news, photography, and more, where publications are listed to throw into a feed. There are a lot of great sources, and the starter kit is useful for someone who's never used an RSS feed before.
Feeds can be individually or grouped all together. The great thing about Feedly is the several view options that are provided: titles, magazines, timeline, mosaic, cards, and full articles. In our use, we found titles and timeline to be the best - listing articles in chronological order in an easy view. When an article is clicked on, much like Google Reader, it is expanded in-line with a photo and sharing options.
Keyboard shortcuts and the ability to search is also welcomed, giving a quick way to manoeuvre through the interface.
An index provides a list of every single source you've subscribed to in the feed and the history section gives a list of what articles have been clicked on. The history section is searchable, making for an easy way to find exactly what you're looking for.
Lastly, the web interface gets even more customisable with pre-loaded themes which offer different colour options like grey, pianist, spring and more. Link colours, view types, font, tags, and other advanced settings can also be changed for a better view tailored to certain preferences.
There isn't a mobile view for the web, but both an iOS and Android app are offered. Not that the web view is hard to handle, but the mobile version is much more straightforward. Launching the app will launch a "Today" section that shows a cover story from feeds. Swiping down will continue to present popular articles through your feeds.
For the power users, or those looking to consume more information, you can navigate to the "Latest" section that presents a chronological order of content. A "Saved for Later" section lists articles marked as such. Pocket and Instapaper integration is also provided for saving to third-party services for reading later.
When an article is clicked on, it is presented on a new page which can be launched into a browser to see the full view. It's a snappy interface that works well and has customisable options tailored to what you want to see.
Feedly seems to cater to all sets of users, whether power or casual. The different view modes, options, and list of publications allows you to set up the workflow you want.
While not perfect, Feedly seems to get the job of RSS reading done. We wish Feedly would expand on its Twitter and Facebook integration and pull links from lists and feeds as it does with RSS. That's not to say it never will, as Feedly has a feedback section where it invites people to submit ideas.
Feedly wants to keep RSS alive. The ecosystem that Google Reader built includes apps on various app marketplaces, Feedly wants them to integrate with its service once Reader is dead and gone.
What do you think of Feedly?