A collective outcry arose across the Interweb-o-sphere Wednesday over the announcement of the untimely demise of Google Reader, the preferred tool of organization for bloggers, journalists, and other info junkies.
And thus, the race to find the "next' Google Reader has begun. And while many will vie for the top spot, if I was a bettin' woman, I'd put my money on WordPress.com's Reader.
Before we go much further -- and this is crucial -- WP.com's Reader supports XML format OPML. For you non-techies out there, this simply means youÂ have the ability to easily transfer your Google Reader feed over to WordPress.com's Reader with a few simple steps. Google even provides a custom export path.
WordPress.com debuted Reader about 1.5 years ago. Its last big update came in January 2013 and it is being actively developed. The timing begs the question if the code wranglers at Automattic (the team behind the product) have a crystal ball that predicted Google Reader's end, because their WordPress.com Reader is clean, easy to use, and -- dare I say it -- gorgeous.
If Google Reader had actually stayed in development, instead of halting upgrades in October 2011,Â it's easy to imagine it might have evolved into something like the latest incarnation of WordPress.com's Reader.
First off, the user experience is a snap. The flow is much like Tumblr, with a simple, clean, bold and bright design. And WordPress.com also knows that visual content is key these days, so the photo display capabilities are integral to the product, with photos of 595px or wider featured in brilliant detail in full width above posts.
But lots of things look nice, but are horrid to use, right? Not this time. WP.com's Reader is simple to navigate, proving predefined topic lists of suggested blogs, and a phenomenal search capabilities within WordPress' family of blogs.
Reader also supports RSS/Atom. Adding information sources outside of WordPress.com is literally one click away when using the handy Chrome or Firefox extension that installs a "follow' button. There's social media integration, and a fully-supported mobile version through the WordPress.com app for iOS or Android.
Of special note, if you self-host a WordPress site, check out the Jetpack plug-in. It does everything short of actually providing you with an actual jetpack. (Which, I might add as an aside, needs to happen soon. Get on that already, science.)
The code team at Automattic is constantly working on upgrading the project, and we've been assured by a company spokesperson that there is muchÂ more to come with future development.