The Tools I Use

May 16, 2013

News Reading

Back when I dropped Google (and since kinda started back up again) one of the toughest parts was giving up Google Reader. I went to a Twitter list thing that worked relatively well. Then, Google decided to shut down Reader and an interesting thing happened. Lots of new Google Reader alternatives started getting more press, more features, more users, etc. With this new wealth of options to look at, I decided that it was worth another look at the landscape.

Long story short, I settled on Feedly, for now. The primary reason is they have a pretty decent iOS offering, and it was free to try out (though requires a Google account for authentication). That last part is what has me hung up a little bit. I never felt entirely comfortable with the Twitter lists thing because that feature of Twitter seemed like an afterthought, so it wouldn’t have surprised me if it was just gone one day. Using a free service, there is always that risk. When I can pay for something, I have a more reasonable expectation that what I am paying is A. covering the costs to run the service and B. incentive to continuing running the service. With Feedly, it is a ad-supported service, that just happen to get about a quarter of a million new users in the last 2 months. Are the ads enough to support that huge increase? I hope so for now.

One thing I am happy about, back to RSS instead of Twitter accounts. Twitter was great for skimming, but it wasn’t built for the “check out a paragraph of the article” like RSS is. That, and RSS is still more of a standard than having a Twitter account for a site is. If I want to subscribe to something, I can typically find a feed for the site easier than if there is a Twitter account for it.

The one I am really going to keep an eye on is Feed Wrangler. I hope in the next few months the iOS apps get some tweaks and the OS X desktop app come out. If so, I would gladly pay the $19/year for something that important to me.

Reading Later

The other thing that sort of shook my world was Marco selling Instapaper. While the folks at Betaworks seem to do some good work (seriously, Dots is super addictive) I just have some concerns about what life after Marco will be. Because of that, I have started looking at Pocket as a replacement for Instapaper. I have the same reservations about using a free service as I do with the feed reader, but the alternatives are all the same way right now. The Pocket iOS app isn’t as nice as Instapaper, but does have better support for video content. Pocket also ties in with many other apps and offers a variety of browser plugins that are supported by the company.

Do I hope that Instapaper keeps getting better and the vision for it remains focused? Absolutely! But for now, I am keeping my options open and trying something else.