This week, Google Reader has been shut down, leaving many people looking for a new home where they can quickly transfer their feeds before Google deletes them in the middle of July. Luckily there are plenty of options, particularly if you’re using the iPad, and to help you make an informed choice, we’re going to take a look at two of the most popular – and visually quite similar – options, Feedly and Digg. We’re going to start with Digg.
The Digg team was quick to react to the news Google Reader was to close, and announced it would not only be creating a new online RSS reader, but it would also be updating its app to support the feature too. Sure enough, the app was updated at the end of June with Digg Reader support, and the chance to import Google Reader feeds and folders.
Digg’s app is universal for the iPhone and the iPad, and is free to download with no hidden in-app purchases or nasty ads to deal with. It’s a minimalist affair on the iPad, with a stark white background and gray side panels, and very few buttons. Hit the Settings button and you have the chance to sign-in using Facebook, Twitter or Google. By selecting Google, the Digg app will import your feeds. Except in our case, it wouldn’t, and just provided an error saying there were no feeds to display. Shame.
Leaving Google Reader aside, the Digg app lets you view feeds from various sites, which can be selected from curated sections, or added manually by entering the relevant URL. Like most RSS readers, the content displayed is usually the first paragraph of the article, and a button must be tapped to view the entire piece. Do this, and the webpage is displayed in the Digg browser. Additionally, there’s a Top Stories section which has a Flipboard-style magazine layout, containing popular articles from around the web.
As the Digg app repeatedly refused to display our Google Reader feeds, it’s difficult to recommend as a Reader replacement. Otherwise, it’s a slightly unattractive RSS aggregator, of which there are other, better examples. And if you want a magazine look, the go for Flipboard or Pulse News Reader.
Instantly upon opening Feedly, it’s a more enticing experience than Digg’s. A five-pane introduction takes you through the key features, and reminds you that Google Reader feeds can be added. Like Digg, you do this by entering your Google account details. It was all going swimmingly until instead of the feeds showing up, an error page appeared saying the app was over capacity.
Now, a lot of people would almost certainly be trying out Feedly since Google Reader closed, but was this the cause of the problem? No, it turns out the app has a bug, which according to Feedly’s blog will be fixed in a future update. Incidentally, the Android version is already fixed, and should work perfectly.
This has made testing the Reader aspect of Feedly rather difficult, but at least we got to grips with the rest of the app. Despite having a very similar layout to Digg, the gesture controls are more fluid, and the button layout more logical. The RSS feeds can be added using the URL, or by searching using a hashtag, and it does appear slightly faster than the Digg app too.
A curated section groups together similar sites, and when added, appear – again, like Flipboard – in a magazine-style layout. Except when you want to view more articles, instead of scrolling through a list, the page is swiped away like a card, revealing the next selection below it. It looks great, and luckily a swipe down the screen lets you return to the previous card, just in case you swiped by mistake.
It’s a free download from the iTunes App Store, and the app is universal for the iPhone and iPad.
Of the two apps, we’d have to stick with Feedly, although the pair are quite similar. The decision comes down to speed and a more natural control method, although both lose points for not actually being able to show our Google Reader feeds. This is a huge failure, seeing as both apps are likely to be downloaded more now than ever, and not being able to do what they both advertise is very disappointing. Still, Feedly kept us around for longer after not doing what it was told, so is the winner of our little shootout. However, until the update appears, don’t expect to use it as a replacement for Google Reader.