If you were worried that Google Reader’s demise would leave you with a lack of RSS reader options, you were horribly wrong — it’s almost as if there’s a new one every week! And this week, it’s AOL’s turn. After a brief tease last week, the company has simultaneously revealed and launched its own RSS reader service called AOL Reader.
AOL Reader is similar to Google Reader in that it’s a website, not an app or browser extension like Feedly was until last week’s introduction of the Feedly Cloud. Also like Google, AOL is offering an API that will allow developers to use the service as a backend for their apps.
Its interface is much like other similar services — multiple columns, folders/categories for feeds and inline article viewing. But AOL Reader has some serious issues that need to be ironed out before it leaves beta, and soon if they want to capitalize on users that are sticking with Google Reader until the very last moment.
First, they need to get their sorting options, er, sorted out. Currently, AOL Reader only allows for the sorting of feed items by source and date. That means there’s no way of clicking ‘All’ and viewing every item from all your feeds, from latest to oldest. That was the default for Google Reader and I’d imagine that most RSS readers use it as their default viewing option as well, since its the one most users will likely be comfortable with.
Second, there’s currently no one-click option to import your feeds from Google Reader. While you can import them through an OPML file, other services like Feedly offer a seamless transition from Google Reader. It’s definitely not a deal-breaker, but it isn’t a selling point either.
For a service that’s billing itself as a replacement for Google Reader, it’s a little baffling that the two things that would make it easy for people to switch are currently non-existent. With Google set to shutdown Reader next week, it would be wise for AOL’s Reader team to get those two things out the door. If those things aren’t an issue for you, however, you can sign up for the AOL Reader beta right here.
And for everyone else that might still be looking for their next home after Google Reader, give Feedly a look.