Obviously last week was a terrible week to be a Google fan boy You probably didn’t get into I/O, but more importantly, you heard of the demise of Google reader.
People are saying this is good because it will breed innovation, something that Google destroyed when it released its product 8 years ago. The problem is that I don’t want some gorgeous app. I want to quickly read the headlines of my feed with or without a blurb, and to move on. I also want it synced to all my devices.
Why Google killed reader has conspiracy nuts going. It probably came down to 1) not being able to monetize the product, and 2) Resources they need are going to the wrong place. The Reader team was basically on borrowed time. Now what Google does with Reader is a different story. My hope is that it gets merged with Google+ in a way that makes everyone happy (or at least appeases them).
The stated reason was that nobody uses RSS. My mother doesn’t use RSS. Most people can’t spell or elaborate on RSS. RSS is used in the back rooms giving people things to read. Someone chose today’s story of the day, and it went viral. The problem is we are giving power to a select few to curate content for us. The social sharing is not what I want. I don’t want other people telling me what to read. On some level I want that granularity. For a long time, and still am, a Fark.com follower. Their idea was get editor approved content, or pay $5/month and see EVERYTHING. Everything was so much with too little time, I ended up trusted the editors. Trusting the editors was after years of making sure they chose articles relevant to my interest. 90% of the time they were spot on.
As the Internet gets more ingrained in our lives, and our attention span becomes shorter, people want the best news of the day. Well, I don’t… I want to be known for knowing as much as I can on technology. I want people to ask me.
I do like Flipboard, Pulse, Current, Zite, and others. I do like that they give you a magazine layout. The issue is that I parse articles, I don’t read them. When I do read them, I do want something like those mentioned above.
Here is Flipboard, my current favorite, catch up on The Economist, magazine reader:
For that style app, it is one of the best. I highly recommend it. As an aggregator however, it is terrible.
As a contrast, here is my Google Reader:
I have on my list, The Verge, Gizmodo, and Engadget. Most of the time those sites duplicate articles. The Verge alone posts 75 articles a day, most of them have little interest for more than a headline. I really don’t want to flip through a gorgeous UI for that. I want in, get the information, than leave.
So what exactly do I want?
If we are starting from scratch, then here are my choices for a good application that I would pay money for.
Must Haves (Deal-breakers)
Quick access to feeds. This is the most important thing. I must be able to quickly access feeds, mark as read, and navigate. Like I said, my workflow is such that I need to quickly read articles. I need quick access to those that interest me, and a quick way to skip over those who don’t.
Provide a web interface AND access to an app, or allow an API so others can access it. Most of the current iOS/Android apps hook into Google Reader API. I need to have access on any device I use. It doesn’t have to be a standalone app, but it should allow others to integrate it (paid if need be).
The ability to sync across devices. I use many devices during the day. I need access to news where ever I am. I need to also keep my spot in line. I may be a power user, but I need to know that I’m not reading duplicate entries all throughout the day.
Good to have:
Different Views: Allow me to set headlines only, blurb form, or full article form. Actually have it laid out based on screen size.
oAuth: I do not want separate account information unless needed. Find a way that I can log in with the social networks, mainly Google+.
Social Sharing: Be able to at least email a post to someone. It would be good if the major sharing sites (including Google+) is there
Read it Later: Same as social sharing. Allow access to the read it later sites like Instapaper. If you could “send to Kindle” I would pay for that.
Local Storage/Offline Access: Most of the aggregators already do this. Harness HTML5 for data storage.
Paid (Ad Free Service): I have no problem paying server costs. Allow ads, or allow people to pay for the service and make it advertising free.
Algorithmically generated stories: If I subscribe to blogs, try to suggest others that I may like. Even better, have a local section based on location that will populate a folder called “local news.”
Subscribe to Bundles: Since data mining should be done, find out the most popular news feeds, and allow people to subscribe to them in themes.
Extensions for media: If the RSS feed is a podcast, I want the ability to hit play.
As you can see, your favorite application for reading RSS probably has this built in. Hopefully Google gave them long enough to figure out a back end to allow hosting.
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