Fear not, there is a comparable replacement to Google Reader out there
It's time to face the facts here, folks: Google Reader is shutting down on July 1. Many of us (myself included) have been in the "denial" phase assuming that Google would come up with a replacement for the service, but it's time to start thinking about alternatives. Of the handful of potential replacements, Feedly seems to be in the lead right now and offers a nearly painless transition over from Google Reader.
Let's break down the process of moving your beloved RSS feeds over from Google Reader to Feedly, and give a few tips and tricks along the way to make the process as smooth as possible.
Clean up your Google Reader lists first
While Feedly now has a simple solution for importing Google Reader data to its own service, it's not quite fair to call it an "import." Feedly doesn't just do a one-time import or your Reader data, but rather links up with your Google Account to access your email address and Reader information. For this reason it is extremely important to have all of your Google Reader feeds and data just how you like them before moving over to Feedly.
Take some time -- set up your folders, delete old feeds, get things categorized how you want them. Once everything is exactly how you want it, go ahead and use the Google Reader settings to export an OPML/XML file of your feeds. You can do so by heading to the Google Reader settings, hitting the "import/export" tab and clicking "Download your data through Takeout". Feedly doesn't seem to currently support OPML import, but it's a good idea before making any big moves to back everything up in case you want to go somewhere else.
Sign up and import to Feedly
With the introduction of its "Feedly Cloud" platform, bringing over Google Reader into Feedly is about as easy as it could possibly be. Simply visit www.feedly.com (redirecting to cloud.feedly.com now), and hit the big blue "Import your Google Reader" button on the screen. You'll then simply log in with your Google account (or proceed instantly if you're already logged into your browser), view the permissions and hit "Accept."
And that's it. After a brief wait, you'll be taken to the main Feedly interface where your RSS feeds will be populated in much the same way as they were previously in Google Reader. Your feeds and folder structure should be in-tact as well, although they will now be categorized alphabetically even if you had them in your own order before.
Get acquainted with the new service
The new web interface for Feedly is very much laid out the same as Google Reader is, with a basic feed view taking up a majority of the screen and flanked by a content table on the left. The number of preferences available in the web client are pretty minimal, but there are probably a few things you'll want to change from their defaults to get something you're more familiar with. For example you may want to turn off things like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter integration as well as "confirm mark as read" to give the simplest experience. You can also use the "All" view from the left panel in conjunction with the list view choice in the top right of the interface to get the most data on screen. As with any new service it will take time to get used to things, but it shouldn't take long if you're willing to give it a try.
On the mobile side, Feedly also offers a capable Android app which is also free in the Play Store. After downloading and running through the brief tutorial start screen, swipe in from the left edge to reveal the sign-in options, where you can select either "Android" or "Google" if you've imported from Google Reader before installing the app -- just authenticate and you'll be off to the races. The app isn't the prettiest or smoothest thing out there, but it certainly gets the job done just as well as the original Google Reader app did before it was removed from the Play Store. There are a few tweaks available in the settings as well to get you set up the way you want.
If you choose to make Feedly your Google Reader replacement, you should end up having a pretty painless transition period between the two services. Nothing is going to match up perfectly, but it should be clear by now that Feedly is trying hard to win over the disenfranchised Reader users with plenty of familiar features. Feedly has made serious improvements to its web client (where the power users will use the service) and while its own Android app isn't going to win any awards it has an aggressive plan to partner with other app makers to provide a variety of clients.
We've only got a week until Google Reader shuts down for good, so let's get those feeds exported and moved on to a new service -- be it Feedly or something else -- before it's too late.
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