Goodbye Google Reader and Streamified - Long Live the Old Reader or Feedly? And Social Media updates via RSS.

First Google announced they were killing off Google Reader then Streamified stopped being free and will now soon come to an end as the founder has joined Airbnb

The Streamified blog also had this post  The Future of Social Reading is NOT another Reader which links to a good post on Google Reader alternatives. It says that though RSS is now archaic it is just too embedded in the web and will not "go away any time soon" and also explains how Streamified enhanced feeds by pulling content from the links. This meant that for a Facebook shared link post you could see all the text from the article as well as view the images or embedded video whilst in Streamified. A link post in Tumblr to a YouTube video just shows a link in Tumblr, but viewing the same Tumblr post in Streamified you would see the video and be able to play it. Below is a screen shot of a moonblogsfromsyb post from the God in the TV site which was sent to Tumblr as a private post.


Feedly has developed Normandy to automatically take over all your reader feeds and is the most obvious replacement for both Google Reader and iGoogle, especially if you have an Android or iDevice. You can incorporate panels for Facebook and Twitter and there are sharing options but, it does not create a unified stream in the way Streamified did. They have teamed up with Buffer to allow posting to multiple accounts in one go, but again, not Google+.

Alternion is a possible alternative to Streamified except it is not possible to subscribe to any feed with it. This can be got round by using feeds sent to any of the blog platforms in the same way as moonblogsfromsyb with IFFT.com. However, you can't log into Tumblr as a social network as you could in Streamified and so it can not show private posts. A way round this is to create an obscurely named blog that is not listed or indexed. It does show the shared links/post from your news feed in Facebook but as with Feedly, it does not show all notifications. Another major flaw is that you can't see all streams in one screen; your "home" page shows you all the posts from your social media streams but your profile page only shows your own posts and any posts from blogs you are following. You can connect your Google+ profile or page but you can only see your own posts and you can't post to your profile or page as you can to Facebook and Twitter. It does look very good though and in some ways presents feeds posts better than Streamified. Below is a screen shot of moonblogsfromsyb in Alternion.


Sadly, at present there is no Alternion mobile site or any applications. Feedly have now released their Api to a few 3rd party developers and so soon there will be an app for every type of smartphone. I am looking forward to see how gnewsreader will work with it on my old Nokia Symbian and hopefully you will be able to share with Google+, Twitter and Facebook individually, as before. However, thanks to the ever-excellent All About Symbian blog I have been made aware of the Old Reader that had been set up in response to the changes made to the original Google Reader.

Screen shot of the Old Reader in Opera Mini
The best thing about it is that it works brilliantly via mobile as well as making it very easy to organise feeds into groups and to share to Facebook. Like WordPress mobile in Opera, it can also launch embedded YouTube video from within the feed reader in Opera mini.

The drawback of the Old Reader is the lack of social media integration compared to Feedly and especially Alterion but then again neither of those alternatives manage full social media integration anyway. So I decided that it might actually be possible to at least see all activity from all my social streams within a RSS reader or even a blog using the wonder that is IFTTT.com.

Facebook
You can receive Facebook notifications in an RSS reader by turning your notifications into a feed. In order to get every possible update from your "friends" make them all "Close Friends" this will also include anyone who has set their Facebook to not allow their updates into 3rd party apps such as Feedly or Alternion. You only get a snippet of their post but you do get a direct link to whatever they are sharing on the wider web. The Facebook site is impressively accessible from any device/platform and you can still make feeds for any Facebook page. This excellent guide. shows you how and this web app FB RSS will generate a feed for the posts to your wall, a feed for each of your "friends" and pages you follow. It seems that Facebook has now become the most open and accessible of the big three social networks, despite their attempts to have users stay within their site as much as possible in the recent past.. However, after using this method and setting notifications for everything possible I am still not getting everything from my home stream. Still it is more that you get from Feedly or Alternion and as least as much as I did from Streamifed or even the Facebook for every phone app. The activity that does not generate a notification is just your friend's comments or likes of other people's posts - the kind of stuff that you might not be too fussed about anyway....

Twitter
Twitter was the most open of networks it was very easy to follow any user's public tweets and any search queries sent to a feed reader without even signing up. However, they have just recently ended support for RSS/Atom switched fully to a new Api using JSON, but you can still generate RSS feeds via a Twitter App using Google Scripts. Fortunately, the hard work has been done for you on the marvellous Digital Inspiration blog. You do not have to actually write any "script" just follow instructions and copy and paste: "var CONSUMER_KEY     = "your consumer key";" into line 24 and the same for the secret key in line 26.

Update: This has become easier and you can get tweets and retweets from a Twitter list with a widget. See the excellent Digital Inspiration

There is a free service that will get a user's tweets and retweets: twitrss.me, though how long it survives may depend on the donations.

But DO NOT use http://www.rssitfor.me as it did not work but then mysteriously started to add random feeds to my Feedly and I had to delete my Feedly account and then create it again to fix it.

I am not aware of a way to get your Twitter email notifications turned into an RSS feed, but I have realised that with IFTTT.com you can send emails to a blog and blogs have feeds. Which leads us on to .....

Google+.
Many might have expected Google+ to be the most open social network but at present it is the most closed, at least if you are not on a Google web page or using the Chrome browser with the Google+ notification browser plugin. However, you can get email notifications with more flexibility than with Facebook and Twitter thanks to being able to have notifications turned on or off for each circle. With IFFT, you can link up Gmail and WordPress or Tumblr and send your notifications as private posts and assign them categories or tags. As with Facebook notifications they only show a snippet of the post and include a link to what is being shared on the wider web, but  these do get broken in the transfer from email to blog, but you do at least get a notification of any Google+ activity

Using a blog as a Feed Reader or Feed Creator

If your Google+ notifications are being sent to a WordPress and Tumblr blog you can do the same with any feed. You can then see all your Social Media and Feeds and both work very well via mobile, though WordPress comes out top at this. However, if you wanted to send these posts as a feed to the Old Reader, Feedly or Alterion, then the posts would have to be public, though again you can hide your blog by not having it listed and not indexed.

So Wordpress or Tumblr using IFTTT are both a rather good alternatives for viewing feeds and your social media updates, on your mobile and on a PC and if all your feeds/notifications are being sent to a hidden non-indexed blog you could then use any mobile RSS widget to display the blog feed.

If posts are not private and as they all have their own feed, they can also be viewed through social media aggregators such as Feedly, Hootsuite, Alterion etc etc.  The Old Reader is a great alternative for both PC (especially if you have 100's of feeds) and definitely for mobile. It would be great if they could team up with Alternion and if in Alternion and/or the Old Reader, you could sign into either Tumblr or WordPress and see private posts. The Old Reader has released their full Api and so soon it should be linked up with 3rd party mobile apps.

What of Google and Google+. What is going on? Google+ may now be the second biggest social network but you do not get the impression there is that much activity in terms of comment and sharing of posts.The Chrome share extensions do show that BBC stories are shared at least 10 times more on Facebook.  However, it also shows that the BBC news home page has been +1 2 million times compared to just 68k Facebook likes. It does look to be the same for most sites in that Google+ users are using the +1 option to let people know the sites they like but not so much for sharing. It does back up Google's claims on uplift from Google+ and why so many organisations are creating pages -  along with the hope it will help with search results (as long as they can get over 2k +1's). It may be the case that when Google+ users create posts they are more like blog posts than just direct shares or as with the Moon, they are shares of a connected Blogger blog.

They have allowed some 3rd party apps to manage pages but users can only update their own profile within Google+ or by a linked Blogger blog. It could however be a great social media aggregator itself and replace Google reader. Feeds/searches could be added to circles and you can have as many circles as you want and set whatever sharing settings you want. Then they could also come up with their own officially supported Streamified like social media plugin/app that will allow you to post/upload media to multiple platforms at once. Google Now could also easily replace iGoogle. It is already available for compatible Android devices though, at present, it does seem to be focused on using artificial intelligence to predict what it thinks you want. It would be good to also be allowed use your own intelligence to ask for the information you want... It does of course give them a much bigger scope to monetize the service. It will apparently soon be available on your PC via Chrome,  see Why Google Reader got the axe
It could also have your all your feeds and social media in a tile or tiles with the option to share/post/upload media to multiple platforms in one go. There is currently a basic non Google Chrome Extension and there is a guide on how to customise it.  Google could also allow 3rd party apps like Feedly/Alternion to access your circles and share to them. It is simply unrealistic to expect users "friends" and or followers to only use one platform and Google+ and Now should be the solution.

But for now I am getting all my social media notifications and feeds in Feedly via PC and the Old Reader via mobile at present but this may soon change to a Feedly connected gnewsreader. I would though recommend the Old Reader for anyone who is wanting up to the minute news from Google news searches as it is more reliable and generally quicker as well as better at manual refreshing.

Update: Feedly has won out here with great mobile apps across all platforms and for an update on all of above check out Pimp Your Chrome and have Everything in One Place and Share to Everywhere at Once and Google Now Now?


Trending on The Moon

Moonblogsfromsyb