Like many people, I was caught off guard when Google announced it was shuttering Reader. I use it every day, combined with iGoogle, another property that is headed for sunset. Are you, like me, a Google refugee?
It used to be, I could just rely on the fact that if a piece of web technology was by Google, then it was probably the right one to use. I’d like to thank Google for liberating me from this notion. There are lots of great apps out there that have trouble competing in the shadow of Google’s subsidized apps. In the case of Reader, there were a number of great feed readers that are now getting a chance. For me, I am going with Feedly, because it is well designed and has a great mobile app.
As far as the notion of a next gen web portal, iGoogle was a pretty good solve. With a few scrolls and a few glances, I could quickly catch up on news, social feeds, email and reddit. In this space, there don’t seem to be as many worthy competitors. Netvibes seems slightly inferior to iGoogle at this stage, but if enough people start developing better widgets for it, that could change. I hope so, because I’ve started using it.
I feel like there is room for an order of magnitude improvement in this space. A web service that works on phone, tablet and desktop that brings together all the content that I care about. I could see a company like app.net growing into something that can fill that role. More likely, I expect the browser itself will take the tired concept of the homepage, and evolve it into an AI-driven dashboard for your life. Yes, please!
Update: March 20: Another service that I have used for awhile that you Google Reader refugees should check out is Prismatic. It is a great service that automagically pulls in content for you based on social services you already use as well as user settings you can configure. Great for discovering new content not in your normal feeds.