BeyondPod gets a major update, comes to Chromecast

Earlier this week we learned of a major update to Chromecast, bringing support for ten new apps to the little Google HDMI stick. Now those updates are trickling out to the included services, with support hitting Android podcast app BeyondPod today. This update may feature Chromecast support, but there is more than just that included.

Users will also receive better support for devices running Android 4.4 (KitKat),  an easier way to play the audio portion of video feeds — just use Menu > More > Play Videos as Audio, support for Portuguese and Brazilian translations, improved episode handling and numerous bug fixes.

beyondpod-menu

BeyondPod is free from the Google Play store, though there is a premium version, as well. There is also a separate app that is designed to support 7 and 10 inch tablets. Now you can ‘cast’ the GeekNewsCentral podcast right to your TV, as well as taking it with you on your travels.

Get faster subscriptions with Add to Feedly for Chrome

feedly logoWith the death of Google Reader earlier this year, many net denizens were left scrambling for an alternative — and issuing a few choice words to Google upon departure. While countless (exaggeration) alternatives exised, most would up landing on Feedly. In fact, the service did an admirable job scrambling to add bandwidth and servers to face the influx head-on.

While the app does a decent job, there are certainly still complaints to be made about its shortcomings — lack of alphabetical order that results in a chaotic looking feed is mine.

Though that one has not been fixed by Feedly, extension or user script, other tweaks can be made. For instance, how about the ability to add a feed right from the site you are on and without even knowing the RSS address? That is what “Add to Feedly” can do, providing you are using the Chrome web browser.

The extension places an icon in your menu bar that, when clicked from any site, will automatically determine the RSS feed associated with a website and offer you an option to add it to your Feedly subscriptions.

This is one option that helps to soften the Google Reader blow just a bit, by adding a feature that we did not previously have access to in that old RSS program.

Reader is dead, Google points out alternatives

Google Reader

Google Reader

At the end of yesterday, July 1, the bell tolled for Google Reader. While it was a sad moment, many alternatives exist.Granted, most of us wish we did not have to move to them, but that is the grim future we must all face.

A brief visit to the web site displays a dire message that customers have been dreading for sometime — the search giant informs its loyal followers that “Google Reader has been discontinued. We want to thank all our loyal fans. We understand you may not agree with this decision, but we hope you’ll come to love these alternatives as much as you loved Reader”.

The company then goes on to link to alternative services. Feedly tops the list, though The Old Reader, Newsblur and many other make the list of approved apps. Some, such as Flipboard and Feed Demon are listed, but failed so far to get the Google Seal of Approval.

Google also attempts to avoid confrontation by posting the answers to questions it anticipates will be asked:

————-

1. What will happen to my Google Reader data?
 
All Google Reader subscription data (eg. lists of people that you follow, items you have starred, notes you have created, etc.) will be systematically deleted from Google servers. You can download a copy of your Google Reader data via Google Takeout until 12PM PST July 15, 2013.
2. Will there be any way to retrieve my subscription data from Google in the future?
No — all subscription data will be permanently, and irrevocably deleted. Google will not be able to recover any Google Reader subscription data for any user after July 15, 2013.
3. Why was Google Reader discontinued?
Please refer to our blog post for more information.
———-
It seemed to me unlikely that Google would go through with cutting this cord, given the internet-wide outcry, but Reader is gone and users have little choice but to grab their data now

Reeder Won’t be Ready on July 1st

Reeder logoThe clock is ticking! Google Reader will die on July 1, 2013. If you are still using it, you have very little time left to find an alternative RSS reader. You can find a lot of suggestions, all across the internet, about which of the remaining RSS readers you might consider switching to.

Those of you that were planning on using Reeder are in for some disappointment. It has been announced that Reeder is not going to be ready on July 1, 2013. Instead, the development of Reeder will continue after that date.

There are currently 3 versions of Reeder. None of them will be getting major updates.

Reeder for iPhone (version 3.2) is currently being offered for free. It will support Feedbin, Feedly, and Fever. It will also support Feed Wranger (but has no support for smart streams in Reeder – yet). It will also allow you to use standalone or local RSS without syncing.

Reeder for Mac and iPad will not be updated. They will both be removed from the App Store on July 1, 2013, because they still require Google Reader in order to function. Don’t expect to see these apps return until after they have been modified to work without using Google Reader.

Digg’s Reader is Almost Ready!

Digg logoHow many of you are still looking for a good substitute for Google Reader? You might want to consider the one that has been created by Digg. They have announced that their Digg Reader version 1 will begin rolling out next week. Everyone will have access to it by June 26th, 2013. That’s a few days before Google kills off Google Reader (which is set to die on July 1, 2013).

Digg says that their engineering team, that has been building the Digg Reader since March of this year, consists of 5 people. They asked people what they wanted to see in a Reader and the response indicated that people want it to be fast and simple, and that they wanted the Digg Reader to let them import their feeds and folders from Google Reader.

Here’s what the beta release of the Digg Reader will include:

* Easy migration and onboarding from Google Reader.

* A clean reading experience that gets out of the way and puts the focus squarely on the articles, posts, images, and videos themselves.

* Useful mobile apps that sync with the web experience

* Support for key actions like subscribing, sharing, saving, and organizing.

The Digg Blog also notes that the Digg Reader will be a “freemium” product. All of the features that are being introduced next week will be part of the free experience.

Correction: When I first posted this blog, I wrote that Google Reader was shutting down on June 1, 2013. That was incorrect. Today, June 19, 2013, I changed it to the correct information. Google Reader will be shutting down on July 1, 2013.

Feedly taking full advantage of Google’s stupidity

feedly logoWhile all of us will lose thanks to Google’s inexplicable decision last week to shut down a service which seems to have been much more popular than the search giant would have you believe, one company is certainly not unhappy about the move. Feedly has been in a whirlwind since that announcement.

Within hours of the Google announcement Feedly had already posted detailed instructions on how disenfranchised users could export their RSS feeds from Reader and import them into the Feedly service.

Now the company has announced that it has received an influx of more than 500,000 new users in the first 48 hours after the Google announcement. “More than 500,000 Google Reader users have joined the feedly community over the last 48 hours. We love passionate readers. Welcome on board”.

Feedly says it has added ten times its previous bandwidth to handle the load and that new servers are being brought online to help with the new found popularity. The company also plans on adding new features weekly.

Its nice to see a company that still understands the need that many of us have for a good RSS reader and wants to support the users of it, as opposed to simply ignoring its customers as Google has shown it is willing to do. Feedly is available for iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

Google Reader shutdown decision now threatens human rights

rss logoWhile GNC doesn’t get political — in fact we avoid it as if it were toxic — sometimes a subject in the political arena touches the tech world. While we have all been fixated recently on the Google Reader shutdown and what it means to us as writers about tech, who use this tool to follow the latest news, and you the readers who use it to follow us, there is larger and much more ominous part to all of this.

That part was revealed today as we learned just how detrimental this shutdown is — not just to us in our cozy homes, but to those living under the thumb of totalitarian regimes that systematically block large portions of internet traffic.

Today Zachary M Seward reports that the Google decision has been taken especially hard by the citizens of Iran who used the RSS service to get around the country-wide firewall that trapped them from outside news. “The real tragedy is likely to be felt in countries like Iran, where Google Reader is used to evade government censorship”, Seward wrote. He continues “many RSS readers, including Google’s, serve as anti-censorship tools for people living under oppressive regimes”.

In order to stop citizens from accessing Google Reader, the country would have to undertake a rather large amount of work, as it is difficult to block the entire Mountain View-based company and all of its services.

There is potential good news here — “Google also hasn’t said what it might do with the Google Feed API, which is a service for programmers to access RSS feeds, usually for display on other websites. If it sticks around, the Google Feed API would potentially allow someone to build a service that replicates some of Google Reader’s core features and still rely on Google’s domain to do it” Seward explained.

For now Google has said nothing more about its decision, despite the growing outcry and the number of people signing online petitions to stop this shutdown from happening. Perhaps the plight of the Iranian citizens can warm their cold heart.

Digg is Building an RSS Reader

Digg logoThose of you who are lamenting the upcoming loss of Google Reader are not alone – not by far. There are a lot of people right now who are seeking an alternative to replace it (with varying degrees of success, depending upon each person’s needs). Digg has a different way of solving this problem. They are going to build a new one.

Digg announced this news on their blog, in a post titled: “We’re Building a Reader”. It turns out that they had been planning on building their own version of an RSS reader anyway. The news about the demise of Google Reader caused them to push this project to the head of the line. Their blog said:

We’ve heard people say that RSS is a thing of the past, and perhaps in its current incarnation it is, but as daily (hourly) users of Google Reader, we’re convinced that it’s a product worth saving. So we’re going to give it our best shot. We’ve been planning to build a reader in the second half of 2013, one that, like Digg, makes the Internet a more approachable and digestible place. After Google’s announcement, we’re moving the project to the top of our priority list. We’re going to build a reader, starting today.

The “bad news” is that the RSS reader that Digg is designing isn’t ready for you to use right now. It’s still being created. However, the “good news” is that they are seeking input about what, exactly, you would like to see in their RSS reader. Leave them a comment on their blog, and there is potential that they will incorporate it. The other “good news” is that when they are finished, there will be another viable alternative to Google Reader.

Google Reader – WTF Google?

unquotable sign2Those that know how I produce and get ready for my Podcast are asking me tonight what I am going to do now that Google has announced the Death of Google Reader. My first reaction was laden with swear words. The ability for me to put Geek News Central together, and be organized in 90 minutes was largely the way Google Reader feed the news to me.

A lot of folks are scrambling tonight, and frankly I don’t have the heart to start looking for a new solution yet. It’s like my dog just died :(

Some are saying switch to Flipboard, my reaction to that is pretty simple NOT! Great for casual usage but not for a tech geek needing to organize for a podcast/ I need something for the desktop that is lean and mean. Some are saying Feedly.com, in the initial round they are high on the contention list. They have to get themselves dis-engaged from the Google Reader API though and the time clock is ticking.

I care about RSS a great deal, it is how the podcasting community distributes podcasts. Without RSS we would be no better off than we where in 2004. Google simply hates RSS, they have never embraced it. Hell they have let Feedburner fall into a state of dis-repair, for those that where stupid enough to use it in the first place I would be scared to death. But I hope they all learn their lessons, and start controlling their own feed instead of letting some third-party man-handle it. For goodness sakes run from services like feedblitz, who in my opinion is preying on folks scared Feedburner is gonna get whacked.

So tonight, for the Google brass that killed Google Reader…… Well you know what being given the middle finger stands for don’t yea.

Image: Middle Finger by BigStock

FeedWizard: RSS Without Google Reader

FeedWizardThe internet is freaking out today after hearing the news that Google has decided to kill off the extremely popular Google Reader. The reaction is understandable. Many of us rely on Google Reader as an quick way to keep up to date with the news and to easily discover when the blogs we follow have updated with new content. There are a lot of people right now who are scrambling to find a replacement for Google Reader before it disappears, forever.

Google mentioned the impending demise of Google Reader in their blog today. I’m not certain that their explanation for the reasoning behind doing away with the popular feature will be accepted by everyone. They said:

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

In any case, we are all going to have to find an alternative RSS aggregator soon. As for me, I have decided to use an app called FeedWizard (which I found in the iTunes app store). FeedWizard is made by a company called Wunderkopf. It does not connect with, or require, Google Reader in order to function.

The app costs $0.99 to download, which is a nice price. It requires OS X 10.7 or later. I took a few minutes to manually load a few of the RSS feed that I had subscribed to through Google Reader into FeedWizard to make sure it worked. Everything was running smoothly, so I did as Google suggested and used Google Takeout to export my RSS subscriptions into FeedWizard. Simple!

FeedWizard does not have the ability to sync across platforms, and I realize that may be “deal breaker” for some users. Personally, though, I work from home and don’t have a need to check out the RSS feeds I’ve subscribed to unless I am sitting in front of my home computer, so this is not a problem for me.