A couple of days ago Google announced they were getting rid of Google Reader, which was a bit of a blow for me, as I use it as a main source of news for sharing to a broad range of social network accounts and sites semi-automatically. I used it in conjunction with ifttt, so that if I added a specific tag to an item in a Google Reader feed it would trigger an action to automatically post it to 1 of a number of accounts I use regularly.
Google Reader was flexible and because I could connect it to ifttt in this way it meant I didn’t have to log in and out of various personal and group Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Buffer and bookmarking accounts sharing links and news – I could do it all in one place. I could also do it via any device I had connected to the internet – PC, smartphone, tablet. Google Reader was also useful in the fact that you could organise RSS feeds into folders or tags and didn’t just have a huge jumble of unrelated links filling up the page. The whole set up was such a time-saver.
So, when I heard about the planned retirement of Reader my heart sank for a few reasons (1) Another popular service was being ditched by a high profile company without any thought for their users – I’d have happily paid to use Google Reader if I’d been given the option. (2) How was I going to continue sharing this information if I had to do it all manually? (3) This ifttt setup was a key part of a presentation I was supposed to be giving at a conference about a week after Google Reader was due to close down – I could end up with very little to talk about at it!
So, I knew I had to try to find another solution. I’d looked at other RSS and news services some time ago to see if there were any decent alternatives to Google Reader. My main concern back then was that news articles were quite slow at being pulled through into the feed. Ideally if NewsNow.co.uk had an RSS output feed I’d use that for all my news – it’s got a wider coverage and is more up-to-date than Google News. Anyway, there wasn’t anything that worked in the way I needed it to that would provide all the functionality and flexibility in one place. Looking at lists of recommendations for Google Reader that have also appeared over the last couple of days nothing still met my specific needs in one package, although I’ve discovered some handy services I didn’t know existed.
However, after a bit of tinkering with ifttt I have managed to come up with a solution that works in a similar way to my Google Reader and ifttt set up, but instead I use a service called Pocket. This is a service for bookmarking items and articles to be read later.
Firstly I had to set up ifttt recipes to pull in all the RSS news feeds I follow into Pocket . Each separate RSS feed required a new RSS to Pocket ifttt recipe to be set up, so if I have 20 feeds I’ll have to set up 20 recipes. Alternatively, I could use something like Yahoo Pipes to pull all RSS feeds into a single one and set up a single RSS to Pocket recipe. I’m reluctant to do this though, as Pipes can be temperamental.
As you can tag items/articles in Pocket in a similar way to Google Reader it means you can organise the RSS items into related articles when they’re saved to Pocket.
Once you’ve pulled the items into Pocket with the tags, you can also add tags manually to specific items that will trigger the items to be posted to a variety of sites and services, as I had done previously with Reader. eg Add the tag “linkedin” to an item to send the article to LinkedIn. Here’s an example recipe for this.
As with Google Reader you can also mark items as read or delete them so they aren’t clogging up your feed on Pocket.
I’ve set up a number of RSS feeds going into Pocket, but as this is the most time consuming part of the process I haven’t added all of my old feeds yet. I have tested a few of the triggers and they’re working fine.
So, fingers crossed for this new setup and farewell to Google Reader – it was a great service for my needs and it’s a shame Google are binning it.