Updated Review of Feeddler and The Old Reader as Replacement for Google Reader
Google Reader is no more, but The Old Reader is still here. It was created because “>we missed the original reader a lot, so we built The Old Reader for ourselves and our friends. We like the way it turned out, so we are sharing it with everyone.”
After my disappointing round with Newsify and Feedly, I needed something else, and I saw a recommendation for The Old Reader. I had heard of it before, but I couldn’t remember where until I ran across an old LifeHacker article on it. After checking it out, I liked what I heard, and I set up an account. Import from Google was easy enough, as I just followed the directions on their website.
Now, the real power behind Google Reader wasn’t in the web reader itself. Rather, it was the ability to interface with other applications. In particular, I needed an iOS app, so I purposefully went out and looked for one that would work with The Old Reader.
I saw Feeddler, which seemed like the reviews were pretty favorable, so I downloaded it and installed it. It must be pretty new, as they have no website that I can find, but they are in the Apple iTunes Store.
Overall, this setup looks like it works pretty well. There were some times when I thought perhaps that it wasn’t keeping up very well with the actual feeds on Craig’s List, but when I double-checked their website, it was actually fairly accurate. Yes, it still is 2 – 3 hours behind, but that is much better than the 6 – 8 hours I saw in Feedly! I should point out that Google Reader usually had some lag as well, although it seems that it was a much smaller interval. That could be bandwidth, for all I know, but 2 – 3 hours doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t wrinkles, though. It seems that certain categories on Craig’s List always, always have very old articles at the end, even when set to only unread. For example, this is from yesterday morning:
Obviously, yesterday wasn’t the 25th of June. I was prepared to blame Feeddler, but then I thought I’d look online at The Old Reader, and yesterday evening, this is what I noticed:
Again, that last entry is not exactly the right month even!
It seems to be only Craig’s List, and I wonder if it isn’t because of the ability of people to renew their postings, which will put them back up at the top without changing the content. It adds an “updated” date at the bottom while leaving the posting date alone. I have no idea if there really is a good way to deal with this, but overall my preference would be that if it were already marked read, I really don’t want to see it again.
The other annoyance really is an annoyance, and it is an app issue. Don’t get me wrong: I’m fine with free apps making back a return by displaying apps. However, if it intrudes upon the way I use the phone, that is annoying. As you can see from the screenshot above of the Feeddler app, there is a small bar along the bottom that displays an ad. So far, so good. However, what you don’t see is that just seconds earlier, the bar was not there. In fact, I had just scrolled down all the way to click on “Load More Items …”. My thumb was in progress to click on that and … you saw this coming, I bet. Yep, I clicked on an ad. and I promptly was taken to another screen. Grrrrrr!
iPhone games like to do this sort of thing, so it is no coincidence that I now avoid new iPhone games. I don’t mind the ads, but I do mind it when I want to zig and the app wants to zag. To be fair, at least Feeddler doesn’t make small tiny x’s in the corner that you must click on to go back to the app, so it isn’t the worst offender. However, since I often read my feeds while sipping that first cup of coffee in the morning, the app sometimes moves faster than the sleepy thumb.
One good thing about Feeddler I want to end the post on is that The Old Reader was down during my testing the app out, and it gave vague error messages. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I went to The Old Reader web page and saw it was down. End result is that there is a Feedback feature on Feeddler, and I took the opportunity to use it. The feedback is available from the Subscriptions screen, and you click on the gear and find Feedback or Report Bugs. I only halfway expect any answers from these things, honestly, as far too many developers seem to slap out an app and move on. However, I got a nice courteous reply the very next day! He explained that he had no way to test the site being down, so now he knew what to do.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with this setup so far. I expect that things will improve over time. If you used to have Google Reader and are missing it, or even if you didn’t realize you could read your RSS feeds on an iOS device, give these a try.
Update: I forgot to mention that instead of Reader mode that Google Reader provided, Feeddler uses Instapaper. Yay! I love Instapaper!
But, I cannot save directly to my own Instapaper account. Boo! Seriously though, I don’t understand why only take this halfway. So, no matter whether I view it in text mode or view the entire page, I still have to open it in Safari and then save it in Instapaper. This adds one layer, that in this case would only make sense, at least to me, if it weren’t using Instapaper already.