Feedly: A free news service for news junkies

Online news addicts blew a collective gasket last year when they learned the Google RSS Reader service was to be shut down. Google said declining numbers of users was one of the main reasons for the shutdown, and it is safe to say most people didn’t even know Google Reader existed, don’t know what an RSS reader is, and certainly had no idea why you would use one.

I was one of the news junkies, though, who was left scrambling for a new way to get my daily fire hose of news. So after a lot of research, and even more trial and error, I’ve found Feedly to be a more than capable replacement. And while you might not be interested in going through hundreds of stories a day as I do in my professional life, Feedly is flexible enough that it can also be a fabulous tool for pretty much anyone who has any interests they want to read about.

Feedly mobile device view

Feedly’s category display and news feed on mobile devices

Feedly is a free service that uses a technology called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to collect news from sources you choose, and combines them into one attractive layout. That layout looks great on the Chrome and Firefox browsers, and there are also iOS and Android apps so you can view your news on the road as well. In fact, really the only failing of the service is that it is not compatible with Internet Explorer and Blackberry.

The setup is very easy. Visit the Feedly.com website using the Chrome or Firefox browsers and go through the simple process that installs their plugin (the installer walks you through everything). Create an account, and then you’re taken to a page where you set the categories of information you want to read about. You then choose what news sources you want to monitor, and the system collects information as it is published on those sites and updates your Feedly page with those articles.

If you aren’t sure where you want to get your news from, a huge number of news sources can be found right from the Feedly interface. Clicking the ‘Add Content’ link under your username at the top left brings up a screen where you can browse sources on a range of topics, or you can search for specific news sources. When you find something you want to add, another box pops up for you to choose which of your categories you’d like to file that news under.

Feedly search boxIf there is a website you really like that doesn’t come up in the Feedly search, it is easy to add a link. The browser plugin you installed earlier will overlay a faint ‘f’ on the bottom right of every page you visit with an RSS feed. Clicking on that pops up a link where you can directly add that page’s feed to your Feedly account.

Once you’ve set up your page you’ll likely find yourself going to that page more than any other website, since everything you want to read about has been collected here already. And who knows, maybe it’ll turn into your fire hose as well.