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Google Reader shutdown countdown: Newsblur, good alternative

The shutdown of Google Reader is drawing nigh and you'd better have an alternative in place when it goes. Newsblur combines a good service with mobile apps to take its place.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Newsblur -- RSS news reader and Google Reader replacement

Google is shutting Google Reader down on July 1 so those of us who use it must have an alternative solution in place before it goes away. I have been testing a few of them and have adopted Newsblur as my replacement for Google Reader.

Newsblur imports all of your Google Reader feeds to get started and then works basically like Google's reader. The web interface is better than the very basic one in Google Reader and can be customized just like you want it.

The screen above shows how I use Newsblur in the browser, similar to the interface of Google Reader but with more information. I can spin through thousands of RSS items in a short time using keyboard shortcuts just as I did in Google Reader.

You can train Newsblur over time by marking articles you like, dislike, or don't care about. Newsblur will then concentrate on the topics and styles you like in its Focus mode. I haven't used it long enough to tell how useful this might be.

There are Newsblur apps for both iOS and Android, which are demonstrated in the slides to follow.

Newsblur is free but offers a premium service for $24/year that allows working with more sites than the free version, plus it enables some additional features. 

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2 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

iPad app -- feed list

This screen shows the initial list of feeds for checking in Newsblur. You can tap on any of them to work with just that site or hit All Stories to work them all in sequence.

Tapping on any of the sites or folders takes to you the article list screen, shown next.

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3 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

iPad app -- Article list

Hitting one of the controls on the previous feed list screen brings you to this one for working with articles. The stream of articles is shown on the left and the current article on the right. There is a Next/Prev button on the lower right for cycling through the articles summarized on the left.

You can also swipe right or left in the article pane to cycle through the articles in the list.

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4 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

iPad app -- RSS article display

You have a choice of several views for the individual articles in the right pane. I use it by viewing the article as it appears in the RSS feed on the right as displayed in this slide. There are four views for articles as detailed in the Newsblur FAQ:

NewsBlur defaults to Feed view, which is the plain ol’ RSS feed from a given site. (You might recognize this look from Google Reader.) But we know a lot of people enjoy reading in the original design and typeface of a given site, which is why we also offer Original view (which shows the entire original site) and Story view (which shows each individual blog post from the original site, one story at a time). That sound you just heard? It’s a thousand web designers sighing with pleasure. The Text view is the extraction of the original story's article text, which may or may not be 100% perfect.

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5 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

iPad app -- portrait orientation

While I usually use Newsblur with the iPad/iPad mini in landscape orientation, it works well in portrait, too. This screen shows what it looks like to swipe through articles in the right pane.

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6 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Android app -- RSS feed list

The Android app is not as well designed as the iPad version as demonstrated in the next few slides. It works well enough, however, it's just not as attractive nor does the Android version display as much information at one time as the iPad app.

This is the initial RSS feed list for comparison to the iPad app version.

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7 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Android app -- article list

This screen displays the article list. The lack of a dual-column format as in the iPad app is quite annoying and not as useful. Tapping on one of the articles in the list gets a single column display for viewing articles as shown in the next slide.

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8 of 8 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Android app -- article view

Once you tap on an article in the list as demonstrated in the previous slide, you get taken to the article view as displayed above.

The entire screen is devoted to displaying just one article, and you can cycle through all articles by swiping left for the next article or right for the previous one. This is functional but not as efficient as on the iPad app.

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