Well, you can’t say that you haven’t been warned. After Google announced back in March that they would be closing their RSS service, Google Reader, it was officially shut down on July 1. This decision was due to the fact that the service, which had been in operation since 2005, had seen a decline in usage even though it was one of the most popular RSS readers on the web.
Google Reader operated via the creation of a single feed for individual users that was formed through the aggregation of headlines from a number of different websites into a single place. RSS (which stands for Really Simple Syndication) is the format that these feeds are stored in, whilst the reader is how they are displayed. Many other RSS readers operate in the same way.
Whilst news of the Google Reader closure has upset many members of the online tech community, it has caused the introduction of a number of alternatives. Digg Reader, for example, was launched a few days ago and offers users fairly basic functionality. AOL Reader, on the other hand, allows users to login using their Google Reader account and to transfer over all their feeds.
The most popular alternative, however, would have to be a service known as Feedly, which is the only one that is believed to be able to completely take over from Google Reader. It offers users more choice in regards to customising the appearance of the feed (such as a ‘magazine mode’) and has a dedicated backend that allows them to sync with other applications.
Even though the announcement has actually seen RSS regain some of its past popularity, there are many who believe that this will be short lived. Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch said that “at some point Google Reader just stopped feeling current enough, fast enough, and comprehensive enough.” It remains to be seen whether Google has made the right decision or not.