You can live in denial all you want, but as we reported on Wednesday, Google is shutting down the Google Reader service on July 1 of this year. In an effort to prevent panic in the streets, we here at MEGATechNews have assembled a short list of the best alternatives to Google Reader. Best yet, they all offer the ability to import all of your existing RSS feeds, so you should be able to switch over with little fuss.
In an attempt to make the transition as smooth as possible, we've only selected cloud-based readers, so you won't have to download any programs onto your computer. After all, you didn't have to download anything for Google Reader, so why start now?
It takes just moments to get accustomed to how Feedly is organized. The left sidebar lists all of your feeds. Mine are separated into groups - comics, tech, blogs, etc - and clicking the arrow next to each will bring up a sublist of all the feeds. In the middle of the screen is a list of the stories in the feed, complete with pictures. Here's the really cool thing: along the top, above the actual feed, are the "featured" stories. These are the stories that get the most Facebook likes and +1s from Google+. It's a good way to ensure that you never miss the most important stuff.
Netvibes has a lot to offer. So much, in fact, that it's going to be completely overwhelming the first time that you log in. Have no fear! You can skip most of the complicated stuff and just come back to it later when (and if) you want to. While Netvibes has a "reader" view that doesn't look completely unlike Google Reader, there's also a "widgets" view that strongly resembles the also soon-to-be-axed Google Homepage. Maybe kill two birds with one stone?
For now, to keep from pulling your hair out, as soon as you sign in, look at the top left corner for a toggle switch that can take you to reader view. Once you sign up for a Netvibes account, importing your Google Reader feeds isn't as simple as some on the other readers make it, so check out this page right here for instructions on how to do it. Once you start to understand the Netvibes layout, you can mess around with the widget view for some customization opportunities.
This list isn't just about good RSS readers. The purpose of this list is to not only find you a good reader, but also to help you get set up. Unfortunately, NewsBlur kept experiencing errors when I tried to import my Google feeds. I figured that the service was being bombarded by new users thanks to Google's announcement, and a quick trip to the NewBlur Twitter feed confirmed it. However, there's also an option to manually upload the exported OPML file from Google Reader (which is what you have to do with Netvibes) and I was able to import my feeds that way.
Again, unfortunately, the reader still had issues and while I was able to see all of my feeds in the left sidebar, I couldn't bring any of them up. I considering not listing NewsBlur at all, but these issues should be temporary and the service seems to have a lot of potential.
FeedBooster by Sensei
FeedBooster is certainly the ugliest of the bunch, but it's got it where it counts and offers a lot of filter options that the others don't. Again, you can import your Google feeds either automatically or by uploading the OPML file. You do this by going to "manage feeds" in the top right corner and then selecting the import tab in the middle. The default layout of the dashboard is a grid layout, and not only is it hideous, but it's not convenient either.
By clicking the gear icon you can go to the options, where you can select two different list layouts that look much better. Where FeedBooster excels is in the specific filtering. You can sort posts not only by tags, but also by authors, so if you've always wanted to subscribe to MEGATechNews and just read my posts, it's now easier than ever.
There are other RSS options out there--a lot more--but these four are all top of the line and will be the easiest to get acquainted with after Google Reader is gone for good.