Google Reader’s closure has left many many faithful users in the lurch. Despite the many different alternative readers available in the market, there are many of us still in search of a tool that will fit in with our working style. AOL and Digg are the latest companies to unleash their feed reader tools, and both AOL Reader and Digg Reader are yet in beta. In this post, we take an inside look at AOL Reader and the options it offers.
AOL Reader – An Inside Peek
Don’t be expecting a completely innovative feed reader that will sweep everyone off their feet. AOL Reader is a simple, yet solid reader that offers a web based feed reading experience coupled with a touch optimized mobile experience.
Since the reader is in Beta, you will initially need to sign up and wait for an invite. Mine didn’t take long, less than 24 hours, in fact. You have a number of sign up options, email address, AOL, Facebook, Twitter, or Google sign ins.
Once you log in to your account, you can add new subscriptions by entering a URL, import from other services, or browse from the many of the topics pre-set for quick subscribing. Google Reader users can import subscriptions simply by the click of a button. My Google Reader imports were done in the blink of an eye!
Once you subscribe to the feeds, you’ll notice how they all line up in the left pane. The default view of the feeds is the List view. AOL Reader lets you customize the layout according to your liking. Just head over to the top-right corner of the application and click the eye icon. The dropdown will show you 4 layout options and you can try each one of them to find one that suites your reading style.
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You can also set options to view just the unread items, and sort from oldest to newest or vice versa. When you are inside a story, starring a story, marking as read and sharing via email, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google + is also possible.
AOL Reader also offers simple organizational capabilities such as tagging features, and drag and drop capabilities to organize feeds. The Settings section lets you select a theme( there’s just two utterly boring ones here) set font preferences and reading confirmation options. For the power user, there’s plenty of keyboard shortcuts available.
AOL Reader doesn’t offer something refreshingly new. However, its clean, intuitive layout and completely familiar interface, should have you settling down with your feeds in no time at all.
Where AOL Reader still needs work is in the mobile department. Smartphones and tablets are one of the biggest sources of feed consumption, and a lack of a mobile app set up is a huge drawback. AOL’s currently mobile optimized site is a bit of a mess and is terribly disappointing. Although plans for an app are probably in the works, consumers may not have all the time in the world to wait for it.
What I do like about AOL Reader though, is its simple, compact, no-nonsense interface, easy viewing layouts, cool recommendations and familiar controls.
Despite the limitations in the mobile space, I’m pretty pleased with what AOL Reader has to offer and believe that it’s a pretty decent player in the Feed Reader segment.
If you haven’t signed up to AOL Reader yet, here’s where you can do so.
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