Google spring cleans Reader out of existence, also trashcans some CalDav, Snapseed for Mac

Google spring cleans Reader out of existence, also trashcans some CalDav, Snapseed for Mac

As part of their "spring cleaning" effort, Google today announced the cancellation of several services, including Google Reader, CalDAV API access (unless you're white listed), Snapseed for Windows and OS X, Search API for Shopping, and more. The trashcannings were announced by Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure on the Google blog:

We’re living in a new kind of computing environment. Everyone has a device, sometimes multiple devices. It’s been a long time since we have had this rate of change—it probably hasn’t happened since the birth of personal computing 40 years ago. To make the most of these opportunities, we need to focus—otherwise we spread ourselves too thin and lack impact. So today we’re announcing some more closures, bringing the total to 70 features or services closed since our spring cleaning began in 2011.

This, of course, has caused wide-spread anger in geek circles, and a more nuanced reaction among the mainstream: "Um, what's Google Reader?" "Dunno, ask a geek!" "You ask them!" "Fine, I'll @{somecelebrity} on TwitterBook for it!"

Apple removed Safari RSS and Mail RSS last year in OS X Mountain Lion. Clearly, people who use and love RSS are not a growth industry, or even a viable target for either company any more. And that makes sense. RSS is the file-system of news, in a post-file system world. It's fantastic infrastructure, but the front end needs to evolve beyond traditional reader apps.

That sucks for those of us who loved the sync capabilities Google Reader provided for iOS newsreader apps like Reeder (pictured above), NetNewsWire, etc. Unless something with Google-level capacity steps up to fill the gap, we likely won't enjoy anything as freely available (in both senses of the word) again. That might also have been part of the problem. Reader was free. It wasn't a product. There was no commercial bond. We got what we paid for.

I'll mourn Google Reader, as I mourned Safari RSS. While RSS will remain -- you can still subscribe to iMore via RSS, and to all the Mobile Nations podcasts -- what does it say when two of the biggest names in tech, and the two biggest names in mobile, shutter their built-in RSS services?

(Ally's going to write up a how-to on exporting Google Reader content, and alternative ways to get RSS, and get your news in general. Keep an eye out for it.)

Source: Google blog

Update 1: Reeder said on Twitter that their app will be fine sans Google Reeder. Whether that means they'll simply abandon sync, find an alternative, or roll their own is unclear.

Update 2: Developer David Smith (Check the Weather) has announced an upcoming, pad service called Feed Wrangler.

Update 3: Developer Marco Arment (Instapaper, The Magazine) argues that the death of Google Reader could bring new life to the RSS market.

Update 4: Flipboard said on Twitter that they have our RSS covered.

Update 5: Dave Winer won't miss Google Reader.

Update 6: Pinboard wins Twitter with:

"We need to focus. Keep the self-driving cars, magic glasses, laptop, handheld OS, and Brazilian social network. Ditch the feed reader."

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 60 comments. Add yours.

wscotchmer says:

I'm on the web all the time, for work and personal. I would guess I spend 10 hours or more a day on it. In all that time, I never got hooked on RRS feeds. I tried it a few times but it just didn't stick.

getdamned says:

You should try RSS feeds, they're a lot better. That's your problem: RRS feeds are boring!

ajkweez says:

I consider myself a technology semi-enthusiast. Which basically means I'm just the most technically literate person in my family and I'm the one the neighbors call when they need a new router set up. So while I'm not a technology professional I do consider myself above noob status. With that in mind, all have to say in relation to this news is: "Huh?"
I've never used RSS. I'm sure some people are pretty bummed about this, but I'm sure at least 90% of Internet users won't have a clue this even happened.

SockRolid says:

Google Reader?

Is that like Google Wave?

Rene Ritchie says:

Well, you can now wave goodbye to it, does that count?

mousebrat2006 says:

I don't think I missed Reader until I found out it was going away. Isn't that always the way it goes?

Andrea Nepori says:

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone?

metllicamilitia says:

Never got into the RSS feeds either, I have apps for what I want to follow or really good mobile site (I'm looking at you Crackberry). But for people who use RSS feeds regularly I'm sure this isn't exactly good news.

impaler says:

So with the reduction in APIs for CalDAV, does that mean my Google Calendar will stop syncing with my Mac's Calendar app in Mountain Lion?

Dev from tipb says:

It will still work, and on future versions too, unless relations between the companies are so bad now that Google does not allow Apple on the whitelisted developer list, or that Apple refuses to sign up for it.

But the companies are not *that* spiteful.

Dev from tipb says:

As a heavy Reader user, this is disappointing, but, since RSS is an open format, we will be able to find other tools. On the desktop, the transition will be simple. The experience is going to be most impacted on my iPhone, however, as Reader's server side aggregation minimized the impact of the lack of background fetching.

rtteachr says:

Snapseed was no surprise, but Reader was. Could apps sync RSS via iCloud?

Elessar.cm says:

Loosing Google Reader is pretty much the last straw for me. With the elimination of EAS for Gmail contacts and calendars for most platforms, Google seems to be making a statement - "Go Android or go Away".

Time to extract data from the Google accounts and move to Outlook.com.

Ozy says:

I think your cure is worse than the disease.

CueBall909 says:

This really, really sucks. I am a Mac guy at heart but spend all day at work on Windows machines. I'm a *heavy* user of Google Reader, subscribing to dozens and dozens of feeds. It's really going to suck to try to find another service that I can use both at work and at home that doesn't rely on some crappy synching method or that is only made for one platform or the other. Ugh.

striatic says:

without google reader, i don't follow this blog. sorry.

maybe i will switch to whatever service byline or reeder switch to, if they just don't shut down as well.

nolhayes says:

Exactly!
I use it daily to keep up with about a dozen sites in the least amount of time. I'm scrambling to find an alternative.
I have to stay up to date with music sites and tech news somehow, no resolution means ill be reading less sites

mattoaks says:

No need to scramble. Google Reader will be here until July 1st. It's nice they gave us enough time to find something else, and enough time for someone to develop something if needed.

ljy1 says:

Terrible move, many people like me subscribe to many website for faster all in one website portal.

JustMe'D says:

From a business standpoint, I understand Google's decision to discontinue its Google Reader service and I know those of us who utilize its service as well as RSS are in the minority. I get it and I can get by without it. What I'm afraid of is losing the ability to get the information I want via RSS feeds. I don't want to be forces to accept an app that uses an algorithm of some sort algorithm to calculate what I may want to read. I know exactly what I want to read. I don't want to read articles that are formatted to look like magazines or newspapers and are full of ads. Hopefully, the makers of RSS apps like Feeddler Pro and Reeder will allow us to manually add subscriptions like we did prior to the existence of Google Reader.

chrishull says:

Reader is SUCH a major part of my life even though I've forgotten about it. When I got the iPad 2, I started using Feeddler which pulled all the content in. I guess now I'll need to find out if that will be affected.

Of course, maybe if I did a little spring cleaning myself, that wouldn't hurt.

BrianTufo says:

Damn Google! Soon they will get rid of everything it seems. Oh well time to find a new RSS reader I suppose.

Alexey Bochkaryov says:

Here are the alternatives, just choose your platform and licence:
http://alternativeto.net/software/google-reader/

shinuyuki says:

This doesn't really concern me. I never used it for more than one second and I was not much of a fan of RSS to begin with. If the people I follow have iOS apps with push notifications (HINT IMORE #COUGH#), I really do not need to have it. I might go back to RSS in the future if a high quality RSS reader that meets my needs shows up on iOS.

Alexey Bochkaryov says:

Try FeeddlerRSS for iOS. It's free and very usable.

viinsanity says:

Ahh, I'm absolutely devastated. The good thing though, is that it seems like other services are stepping up their game. I'm interested to see new interfaces and try out new services.

Alexey Bochkaryov says:

I've tried the most popular alternatives from here http://alternativeto.net/software/google-reader/ now. None of the on-line versions is as sleek as GR. So I chose the RSSOwl - the most flexible of the freeware offline readers. It allows absolutely the same hot-keys and much more.

viinsanity says:

Thanks for the suggestion Alexey!

Juliet0915 says:

I'm pretty disappointed they are getting rid of the Reader. I didn't realize RSS readers were a minority, especially since I've used it for so long. It baffles me when people just check 20+ web sites a day for new posts. Hopefully some cool readers will come out of it. Can't wait to read stories on the ones out there! I'll need one that works on web app (pc/mac) and my iphone/ipad collection.

dsmorey says:

Yeah I don't get it either, do people really go to individual web sites for their new posts?? I just not have that kind of time.

sting7k says:

Flipboard and magazine apps killed Google Reader for me. I used to use reader apps synced with Google Reader. But now there are better options. RSS can be for those who really need it, people who work in the news.

Team George says:

The name RSS just doesn't invite one to try it.

macharborguy says:

However, what the letters stand for do. Really Simple Syndication

Jaguarr40 says:

Seems like of late Google appears to be revamping and or removing many of their apps or changing up on the way they are approaching IOS and Android. I wonder why? Are they setting up for more geared towards what platform if not both?

Either way I only personally use a few of Googles products so it doesn't effect me but may many others.

isuquinndog says:

Bummed that this is going away. Luckily, Reeder tweeted that it wasn't going away just because Google Reader is. So, that's a relief.

Just sad that I've been using Google Reader for about 10 years now and just like that, they take it away. Maybe this should make one pause about using cloud/sync based systems. What if Amazon announed that it's cloud service was getting shut off or Gmail was going away? Every one would scramble to download all that data, and probably don't have local space for. Scary.

john_v says:

That's fine google, go ahead. Now you and I are down to just google and YouTube. I'll find something to replace you, there's plenty of options out there.
In a way, thanks google, for making it easier to cut the strings. Already ditched gmail and gcalendar and chrome...thanks for helping me out with this.

BeyondtheTech says:

Ouch, that hurts. I bought a couple of really nice RSS aggregators for the iPhone and iPad, and only based on the fact that it allowed me to log in and/or import from Google Reader. It was just so much easier to manage across multiple devices. Time to export and try something new!

macharborguy says:

I feel that this was going to happen. Not the closing of Google Reader, per say, but the reduced usage of RSS feeds in general. Google Chrome and Apple Safari both removed RSS discovery some time ago, and Chrome does not have native RSS reading. Safari has the "Reader" function, but that is not the same as RSS.

Most websites, while they may still offer RSS via the HTML meta tags, they do not always make them very usage accessible from their main pages. RSS links are taking up page real estate and are getting pushed further and further below the fold, and some pages simply toss them in the footer either as an icon or just a textual link "rss".

The thing that has really killed RSS, IMO, is advertising. It is difficult to get advertising into RSS feeds and have them work across the board, and website operators would rather you go to their site than get a slimmed down digest of stories.

draztikrhymez says:

Yea never really got into RSS feeds myself

Plasmanut says:

I'm not happy about this... Not one bit.

I have been a heavy user of RSS for years and years now. Since I don't tweet and don't use Facebook, RSS were the de facto way to follow news, sites, lat minute info sources that eliminated the need to go to social media (which I dislike).

I have tried Flipboard and other sleek news apps on my devices, but recently went back to my old ways by purchasing Feeddler Pro, which is an excellent RSS aggregator.

I'm hoping someone offers a free service that replaces it so I can continue enjoying news over RSS with syncing capabilities (someone mentioned iCloud which sounds like a good idea).

dsmorey says:

I agree, Feeddler Pro is a great app, use it every day on both iPhone and iPad. Their twitter feed said they are not going away with Reader.

smartt3ch says:

Noooooooo! Reader was the thing that kept me up to date on my RSS feeds!

iDavey says:

Well this really sucks for me since Reader is how I keep up with iMore since there's no Android app for it. :(

ern741 says:

I'll miss Reader, especially if it means the demise of RSS.

bussey87 says:

I'm going to stick to flipboard, it's much more preferred IMO.

Mother Hydra says:

Rene, anyone? Why has no one mentioned newsblur yet?? It has the awesome social features similar to what Google neutered from Reader some time back... the only social network I actually used, btw. So yeah, they have free and premium access with iOS apps and a DEV team developing based on user feature requests. Well worth the money to support development of a feed reader / feed service that doesn't scour your RSS feeds in an attempt to advertise at you.

ljpuk says:

Google don't seem to be afraid of killing services off do they.

jbfromconway says:

I use iGoogle and Google Reader every day, and sadly both are going away soon. I guess I'm in the minority. The good thing is... I can just do a Google search for, "Reader alternatives" and problem solved. Who'da thunk it?

erikbock says:

I am outraged. I use Reader via the browser and Feedler on my iPad that logs into Reader to get my feeds all the time. It figures, Google tried to pull this crap a few years ago.

mattoaks says:

Those commenters that are going to miss Google Reader can sign a petition to try and stop the removal of this service. Here's the site to join those that want to keep Reader around!
https://www.change.org/petitions/google-keep-google-reader-running

rahul247rocks says:

Google Reader going out is a good thing as it will bring new startups in the rss market. We need some innovation here. it's like the mafia leaving the town and others ready to fill the vaccum in power.

Rick Alber says:

I agree 1000%. Now if Microsoft would only kill off Word and Excel, two other dominant but dormant software tools, productivity in the U.S. would soar.

soundsgoodtome says:

I'm a bit surprised you didn't mention www.newsblur.com. :-)

Frank Lowney says:

Another, less well known, instance of RSS abandonment is the curious case of the "new" iTunes U Courses. There are a good number of institutions of higher education (IHEs) that have an iTunes U Public Site. A substantial number of these IHEs on iTunes U populate their various iTunes U "collections" with RSS feeds from non-Apple servers. Those that use Apple servers are also using an RSS feed but that fact isn't readily apparent because the Apple RSS engine is hidden from content contributors. In addition to collections (functional equivalent of a podcast channel), an iTunes U Public Site can contain iTunes U Courses. This is not the old "authenticated" side of iTunes U. It is all new and anyone can set up an iTunes U Course using the iTunes U Course Manager. Of course, instructors who are affiliated with an iTunes U institution get more (unlimited enrollments, unlimited Apple file storage) than those who are not. The interesting part of this is that you can add all sorts of content to an iTunes U Course **except** an RSS feed! Many IHEs, especially those who have invested in RSS servers, have asked Apple to add RSS support. It's been two years and Apple has done and said nothing in response to these requests.

irepairhrvatska says:

Goodbye Google reader, we harldly knew ya!

thatguykc says:

I've relied on Google Reader for managing RSS subscriptions for years and I'm really sad to see it go. That being said Feedly is a great replacement service and the interface is more sleek and integrated.