As a longtime Google Reader user, I’ve spent the past month searching for a new service to replace it. In fact, I’ve probably spent too much time mulling over this. Ultimately, I chose Feed Wrangler. I thought I’d tell you why:
1. Feed Wrangler’s David Smith created his own apps. As someone who primarily browses RSS feeds via phone or tablet, it was important that I wouldn’t change much of my “workflow” when switching. While the apps aren’t perfect, they look sharp and don’t impede my reading. Furthermore, I know who David Smith is. He makes sharp-looking mobile applications, like Check the Weather.
2. Feed Wrangler offers an API. If you know what an API is, you don’t need me to explain this. If you don’t know what an API is, I’ll keep it simple: it’s what allows other developers to create applications that access the information within Feed Wrangler. If you’re a Google Reader user and have accessed the service through anything but the web site, you’re using an app that made use of the Google Reader API. Since the service is fairly new, there aren’t too many applications using Feed Wrangler, but a few are and many more are promising to do so — including my favorite multi-platform RSS app, Reeder.
3. Feed Wrangler isn’t free. I thought it was important to pay for RSS service this time around. Why? Well, Google Reader was an excellent RSS service: it was almost never down, it always delivered the content I subscribed to, it was free and it offered a public API. Pretty much anyone who used RSS used Google Reader. And it shut down, because it wasn’t profitable. There are other factors, of course. Google was probably hoping to push users to Google+, for instance. Ultimately, though, Google Reader would still be available after July 1 if there was a way for Google to make money from it. Feed Wrangler won’t have the most users on July 2nd, but I certainly know it has a better chance of being in business five years from now than Feedly. And even if Feedly can make money off of their service, would I rather pay Feed Wrangler or view Feedly’s ads? Obviously, you know my answer.
4. Easy to import, easy to export. As thousands of Google Reader users flock to new RSS options, easy importing is a must-have feature, and one that many are boasting. But it’s also important for these new services to offer excellent exporting. After all, the ugly truth in all of this is that the best Google Reader alternative may not even exist yet. And if it doesn’t, I want to know that my data not only exists on my computer (via Google Takeout, which you should use by tomorrow if you haven’t already), but is also easily exportable from my current service of choice.
Feed Wrangler fulfills all of these needs, which is why I chose to subscribe to the service for a year. Of course, everyone’s needs are a little different. I, for instance, did not use the Google Reader web site very often, which offered a number of features that you might rely on. If Feed Wrangler doesn’t do the trick for you, I recommend checking out other services I liked but didn’t opt for: Feedbin and Newsblur.