App of the day: Feedly review (Android)

Google Reader is dead. If Google Reader is a mystery to you, then so too will be today's app, so feel free to read another app review. If, however, the passing of Reader has left a void in your life, then Feedly might be the app (or service) to replace it.

To many it seems that Feedly has stepped into the vacuum that Reader left behind is. But what does it offer and how well does it offer it?

Feedly

Format
Android
Price
Free
Where
Google Play

One of the appealing things about Feedly was that it brought with it the ability to import your feeds from Google Reader. If you've done nothing about it, then you have a few hours to get on with it, before you lose your curated RSS feeds from Google's service. We jumped over to Feedly soon after the announcement of Google Reader's closing, so we're well past the point of securing those invaluable sources of information.

Feedly itself, however, is a nicely designed app, but has a lot resting on its shoulders. If you're coming to Feedly having not used Google Reader, then some of the subtlties may be lost, but the first thing we noticed was how much complexity Feedly brought with it. Reader was simple, it was raw, but it was easy to see where you were and what you were doing. 

Feedly, by contrast, brings greater focus on visual design. Once your feeds are set up - either through importing a list or subsequently adding them - Feedly gives you a choice of views. The "all" view is by far the most useful if you're a regular user, but you can opt to dive into any specific feed you have in the service.

At times if feels like Feedly gets a little too carried away with trying to pretty things up, occasionally giving a full page to a single entry, rather than the list of five you might normally get. This seems to be based around "popular" stories, but it's not exactly clear to us what the measure of that popularity is.

What we really like about Feedly is that it includes browser functions, so if you're reading a feed that doesn't offer full text, you can click through to view on the original website without leaving the app. This means that the sharing options Feedly includes stay consistent: while all Android browsers make sharing easy, if you're working through lists of feeds, then you'll want that degree of consistency.

And sharing options are plentiful, with the option to email, tweet, Google+, read later, send to Pocket or Instpaper and so on. These are all from in-app sharing options, with Android's regular sharing options also on offer.

Feedly doesn't only exist as an app either. It's also part of a larger service that's all synced together, so you can manage your feeds across your smartphone, tablet and desktop without having to walk the same ground. That's great because you can be checking your feeds in bed on your tablet, then on the train on your phone and finally on your desktop.

There are plenty of options to manage behaviour, such as when to mark things as read and so on, as well as a choice of views and support for categorisation of feeds.

In recent months there have been a number of updates to Feedly and some of those have created teething troubles. As we've persevered with Feedly we've found these to have mostly cleared up, although at one point it was common to find that we were no longer logged in to the service or that the feeds weren't up to date. Fortunately, for us at least, that seems to have now stopped.

If you're looking for a Google Reader replacement then Feedly may well be your best option. There are rivals but now we've got to know Feedly a little better, it's become a companion just like Google Reader was.



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