When I read the announcement that Google was killing Google Reader on July 1 of this year you could have knocked me over with a feather. I was in shock! Working for a software company, I know that these kinds of decisions are made all the time. However, this one really hit home with me. I use Google Reader ALL THE TIME! It’s the 1st tab that is open in my browser of daily sites that I review. Google Reader is my “daily newspaper”. I can easily subscribe to all the sites i’m interested in as well as keywords that will bring up articles of interest. People always ask me “how do you keep up with everything the way you do?” The answer is my secret weapon – Google Reader. I was currently using the Reeder App for iPhone and iPad because they sync’d so well with my Google Reader Account. Life was good! I wasn’t looking for any new features, Google Reader works fine just the way it its. Rather than cancel it, I’d be fine if Google simply said they weren’t going to ever upgrade it again. However, it’s not up to me and I have to deal with the cards I’ve been dealt. That means looking for Google Reader alternatives.
Feedly Announced that They are Picking up the Slack
Feedly was already an alternative reader that sync’d with your Google Reader account. They already have mobile Apps and even a slick Chrome plug-in. However, on the day that Google announced the end of Reader, they posted this blog post stating that they were already working on cloning the Google Reader API. They also posted this post to help you start the migration NOW.
I downloaded their Universal iOS App to get started. I also installed their Chrome plug-in/extension (yes they have one for Safari and other browsers). Setup at this point is pretty easy. Just log in with your existing Google Reader account and your feeds will all be there. That’s it! I’m sure that more has to go on on the backend so that your feeds get pulled in from Feedly instead of Google by July 1, but there really isn’t anything else for you to do at this point.
The Feedly UI
The Feedly user interface is nice and clean. While not quite as streamlined as Reeder, it’s definitely usable. They make good use of gestures and you can configure it with your Instapaper and Bit.ly accounts for saving and sharing. Once I changed the default view to “Latest” and switched on the “Auto Mark as Read” feature I was feeling more at home with this app. I do like having the initial image to the left of each article even on iPhone. This is somethign that Reeder for iPhone lacked.
The Bottom Line
While I’m sad that Google couldn’t figure out a way to keep Google Reader going (I would have paid for it), I’m happy to see several companies step up and offer alternatives. My only gripe with this App is that there should be an easier way to “mark all as read”. Yes, there is a “long swipe” gesture to do this, but it’s not intuitive. If Feedly get’s it together on the backend by July 1, I will have no reason to look any further. They have seen a jump by over 500,000 new users in just 2 days!
Here’s an interesting game that my friend Rita turned me on to. It’s called 4 Pics 1 Word. The concept is simple. The game displays 4 pictures that all have 1 thing in common and you have to guess what that one thing is. You’re given a bunch of scrambled letters as well as a number of empty boxes so that you know how many letters are in the word. You can guess all you want and it doesn’t affect your score. However, if you can’t move on until you guess the right word. Some are very easy to figure out and some made me give up to the point of using my accumulated points to buy letters in the word. It’s a good way to kill some time and like I said some pics will really have you thinking. I played side-by-side with my friend and we noticed that the pics come up in a random order. Also some of the pics are used in multiple groups of 4. You’ll breeze through most of these, but there will be some that make you scratch your head, put your iPhone down and walk away to think about it and do something else. If you’re stuck and need help you can also post the one you’re stuck on to Facebook to ask for help. It’s free and worth a download. Grab 4 Pics 1 Word today.
I get my news from the internet. I rely heavily on my RSS feeds. However, when I’m on the road and driving I obviously can’t read news stories on my phone. It would be great if I had my own personal news assistent that would not only read me the news, but the news that I’m interested in. That’s exactly what Winston for iPhone aims to do. Think of Winston as your own personal news butler with the accent and all! You set up the App by picking your topics of interest. When you’re ready to hear the news you launch the App and tap “Briefing”. Winston will very politely start by telling you the current time and date, then he continues with tomorrow’s weather forecast for your current location and then start reading the news from the headlines you are most interested in. If you want to skip a story simply swipe to the next one. If you configure your Facebook and Twitter accounts it will read your Facebook news feed. I find this pretty much useless as it says things like “John posted a picture and several people like it”. Same with Twitter, it tells you that someone posted a tweet and perhaps the subject, but not the actual tweet. It’s best to stick to the regular news feeds and topics of interest.
Winston does a good job and I enjoy listening to it while I’m driving. It has a healthy list of Channels including: NPR Headline News, Reuters: Top News, The Guadian, Washing Post World, All Things D, TechCrunch, The Verge, Engadget, USA Today Sports, NPR Sports, Wall Street Journal, CNN Politics, Fashionalogie, Dining and Gaming sites too. However, it needs the ability to read RSS feeds that you supply it. If they turn this into a full fledged news reader I’d enjoy it even more! For now Winston is worth a download and let’s hope it gets better with future updates.
Typing large amounts of text on an onscreen keyboard has never been something I’ve enjoyed. Perhaps my fingers/hands are too big, but I find that anything over a paragraph wears on me quickly. While iOS does a good job with autocorrecting many things as you type, predictive typing may allow you to type faster. The next time you need to type more than a few words, launch the PredictiveTyper App 1st! With a Predictive Typer instead of trying to correct what you’re typing, it tries to guess what you’re typing by offering a list of words. You start typing “fin” and it suggests “find”, “fingers”, “finger”, “final”, etc. once you key in just a few letters more than likely the word you’re typing appears in the list and you just tap it. With predictive typing you can get a lot keyed with just a few letters for each word. Once you’ve completed your text in this App you can share it via texting, email, Facebook, Twitter, Print, the “Open In” command or simply copy and paste it into the app of your choice. This is great for emails and blogging on mobile devices. You can also save these notes as documents in the App. Think of it as a mini word processor for your iPhone or iPad. PredictiveTyper is a Universal App and therefore you can use it on iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and take advantage of your device’s full screen size. The only downside is that it is a separate App. Of course this is not the fault of the developer as Apple doesn’t allow you to change the text engine at the iOS level. With that said, from now on I won’t cringe when I get an email that requires a lengthy reply or wait til I get back to my computer to write a more detailed note. PredictiveTyper is a must have App for anyone wishing to type more than a few words at a time on their iOS devices.
I have several great weather Apps. On Monday I even showcased a new one called Haze. While these apps are great at showing you all about the weather for a given location, they are all missing one thing. They are all focused on one location at a time and not geared to show you a forecast for multiple cities on a trip or tour. I’m currently on the Adobe Create Now World Tour and in some cases going to a different city each day. As I was flying from Baltimore to Milwaukee with a layover in Minneapolis and then later driving to Chicago I wondered what the weather was going to be like for those destinations on the days I’d be there? While I can certainly sit down and put each city into any of my weather apps, I wanted to have an App that gave me the upcoming weather for multiple cities in one view. Trip Weather was the 1st one that I found to give me just that. The concept is simple. You enter the cities and the dates you’ll be in those cities. When you’re done, you’ll have a scrolling display of your weather forecast for your upcoming stops. It does this well.
Great, but I want more detail sometimes
The App does exactly what it says it does and I can’t fault it for what it does. However, what I’d like to see in an update is the ability to tap on any given day/city and get more details for that day/city. Perhaps it would expand with an hourly forecast. Other than that simple request Trip Weather was exactly what I was looking for. I even like how it’s in the Travel category on the App Store instead of the Weather category. It’s definitely a travel tool more than a weather app. If your travels include multiple back to back destinations, then you definitely should check out this app.