Monday, July 20, 2015

Feedly vs. Inoreader, Part 4: The End

This will likely be the last installment of a 4-part series I've done on the pros/cons of Feedly and Inoreader for my own personal needs. This is Part 4. You can also see Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 5 if you're interested

This week was a milestone week for me in my agony over whether to commit to Feedly or Inoreader. A few days ago, I cleaned out my Feedly account and deactivated it. Today, I signed-up as a paying customer with Inoreader, under their "Plus" plan ($29.99/year).

I don't even need all the features that accompany the Plus plan. I could have done with the Starter plan. But over the last few months, I've come to love Inoreader so that I wanted to support them with a higher payment plan. From someone as notoriously tight-fisted with money as me, let me tell you, there is no higher vote of confidence.

If you're reading this, you're probably wondering why exactly I finally made my choice to go with Inoreader. There were three main areas I considered:

Reason 1 - Feed Parsing 

If you read the earlier parts of this series, you'll know that I tended to have trouble with Feedly capturing smaller feeds, particularly from Reddit subreddits, Reddit searches, and message boards. While this has improved greatly in Feedly, with most Reddit subreds now having all posts pulled-in, the issue remains for some Reddit Search feeds and for Reddit personal feeds. I'm a big fan of the Reddit. I love the openness of the platform. I just prefer sorting through the information with an RSS reader, then taking action if necessary (commenting, reading comments, voting) on the site later. I find this to be the most efficient way of keeping up with a variety of my interests. So if a reader has problems parsing Reddit, it's a red flag for me. Here are some examples of that.

Case Study 1 - Reddit inbox feed

For example, I receive my Reddit inbox comments/replies/messages via a personal RSS feed provided in the Reddit account preferences. I find this to be a better way of tracking conversations, especially when people PM me important information/links I need to file away in an organized way for later.

The problem is: Feedly shows the most recent item of this feed being 424 days old. Somehow, from that point onward, Feedly stopped parsing the feed. A look at the XML (which I won't post here, for privacy reasons) shows many new recent items since then. Inoreader, meanwhile, lists the most recent post at 3 days ago, and in fact its listings do match up with the XML feed. It works.

Thus, I can receive all my Reddit inbox comments via Inoreader, but if I had relied on Feedly, I'd be left in the dark. This is particularly so since Feedly doesn't offer a warning/indication that a feed has not been updating. In Inoreader, it is clear to see, either on the main Dashboard or in the Subscription Manager, how inactive a feed has been and whether there are any problems with it. For reliability then, Inoreader wins.

Case Study 2 - Reddit searches: George Takei

Here's another example. In a prior post I talked about how to get Reddit search results via an RSS feed. I used a search for George Takei as an example. Let's say you had gone ahead and subscribed to that feed. How would it look in Feedly and Inoreader today?

Here are some screenshots, all taken today. Let's take a look.

Reddit Search for "George Takei" at
Notice the most recent result was 1 day ago, titled "Season 2 of..."

XML feed for this search (using Firefox, as the feed display looks better) at
Note again, the most recent new entry (ignoring the recommended subreds) is titled "Season 2 of..." and dated 1 day ago.

Here's the feed in Inoreader.
Most recent item: "Season 2 of..." and dated 1 day ago. Looks good. 

Here's the feed in Feedly.
"Oh, My!" as Mr. Takei would say. Most recent item is dated 124 days ago. Oops. 

The takeaway message here is pretty clear. If you needed your daily dose of news and commentary about that great Japanese-American treasure, actor and social activist George Takei, which feed reader would you rely on?

Sure, these are very specific examples. I doubt many people (sorry George) would subscribe to these feeds. But whether the feed has 10,000 subscribers or 1, the beauty of RSS is that all content should be treated equally, unlike with a mysterious algorithm like Facebook. The truth is that I have nearly 2,000 RSS feeds in all, many for very specific things (a comment thread I want to follow, a message board category, my Feedburner personal alert feeds, etc.) I need the feeds to just work, pure and simple. And if they don't, I need some indication that they're not working right. Inoreader checks both boxes for me.

Reason 2 - New Features 

The second reason I committed to Inoreader is their breakneck introduction of new features over the last few months. Take a look at their blog and you'll see what I mean.

One of the best, for me, was their integration of Twitter. True, Feedly integrates your Twitter timeline in a separate space, but it does not interact as would a real RSS feed. I love being able get my Twitter timeline in Inoreader as if it were just any other feed, and apply rules/filtering to it to better organize and integrate with my workflow. In Feedly, Twitter is just a side-thing. In Inoreader, it's essentially a feed. It's the best thing since Twitter removed RSS feeds.

That's just one of their new features though. Let me highlight another now, that I feel a personal connection to.

Let me tell you a secret. This might be coincidence, or might not be. But let me show you just how responsive they are. Here is the text from an email I sent to Inoreader on 25 June 2015:
This is just a suggestion / idea:
It would be great if Inoreader had its own built-in feed filter. Something like "Feed Rinse"
This can be done with an IFTTT recipe (IF a feed item contains XXX) but this only works to filter-in, not to filter-out.
Maybe Inoreader can do this with "Rules" right now, but it would require multiple rules; and the payment plan has only 15 rules. I think Rules could work better with other uses anyway, not for this.
Anyway just an idea! I really like the idea of Feed Rinse but that website is often unreliable.
Just an idea! I love Inoreader!

A day later I received this reply:
Thank you for the feedback and good opinion for our service.
Your suggestion will be considered, but can't give you clear answer or ETA about some implementation at this stage .
-- InoReader Team
Then, on 14 July 2015, Inoreader announces on its blog a new feature:
Inoreader's "Filter Feed" menu option
Our newest feature - feed filtering. It enables you to remove all the content you’re not interested in from a specific feed. Filtered Feeds only show articles from the past month. You can always delete the filter you’ve created to see all articles from your subscription and you can also edit the filter to refine or completely change your filtering.

Now that is responsive! I wasn't just being a kiss-ass either. I genuinely was hoping for this type of service. The one problem with RSS is the firehose effect. Some sites offer only a single feed for all content, instead of automatically offering category-specific feeds (as Blogger/Wordpress-based sites do). Thus the ability to remove certain types of articles is great. 

With my upgrade to the Plus plan, I can filter up to 30 feeds, use unlimited term highlighting, and add a variety of additional Twitter feeds (Twitter searches will be the best use of this, for me).

Inoreader has just not stopped innovating since their launch, introducing new powerful features at a rate of nearly once a month. Feedly users, what new features have you seen lately? 

Reason 3 - Price

Let's continue with innovation and connect that to price. Over on the Feedly blog, their most recent post was 5 months ago, not even to announce a new feature set but to celebrate their paid customer base. You've got to ask yourself: what are those customers paying for, exactly? 

Feedly's "Pro" plan is $45/year, compared to my Inoreader "Plus" plan at $30/year

Here are Feedly's Pro offerings as of July 2015, with my commentary added. 
  • Power search (included in Inoreader basic/free plan; extendable with upgrade)
  • 10x faster polling (free plan includes limited "boosted" feeds, but here is, I think, a highly overlooked but powerful feature: community boosted feeds "boost" the feed for all users. In essence, this means many of my popular feeds, assuming they don't update in realtime already via PubSubHubbub, get faster polling simply because one other user "boosted" it. The community benefits from each user's "boost".)
  • 1-click save to Evernote (included in Inoreader's "Send to" menu)
  • LinkedIn integration (included in Inoreader's "Send to" menu)
  • HootSuite integration (included in Inoreader's "Send to" menu)
  • OneNote integration
  • Scheduled sharing via Buffer (included in Inoreader's "Send to" menu)
  • Dropbox backup
  • App integration via IFTTT (Yes)
  • Workflow automation via Zapier
  • Craigslist and Google Alerts (These rely on basic RSS; how can these be called "Pro" features?)
  • Support via email (I've never waited more than 12 hours for a response from Inoreader, even with a free account)
I just have to ask again: what are Feedly's customers paying for? For $15 less each year (the price of a "Starter" plan, coincidentally), I get essentially all of Feedly Pro's features, plus all that amazing Inoreader innovation like:
  • Twitter timeline integration
  • Facebook Page subscriptions
  • RSS feed export / HTML clippings
  • Mail 2 Tag
  • Active searches
  • Rule-based automatic sorting/actions
  • Highlighted search terms
Here's the full list of Inoreader features under their various plans:

Inoreader paid plans

Now I don't want to seem like a crazy evangelist. There could be a lot that I don't know about. Maybe behind the scenes, Feedly is working on some amazing new features that are top-secret right now. And in their defense, let's not forget that they came to the rescue for a lot of people (including me) when Google Reader retired. That must have taken a lot of infrastructure upgrades. I admire them for that. And Feedly is still, I think, ahead in design. It's a product that, to me, 'looks better' through its careful use of font, whitespace, and transitions. I'm not a Feedly hater, by any means. 

I think the fact that it's the most popular RSS reader is a fact that itself keeps customers coming. That could be good for its long-term survival. But I really wonder: if more people were aware of Inoreader and what it has to offer, would that still be the case? Inoreader suffers from being a bit "late to the game" in my opinion. But this shouldn't detract you from giving it a shot. I've been using it for over a year now, moving more and more to using it exclusively over Feedly, and this week marks the official turning point for me.

In price, in feature set, in feed reliability, Inoreader wins for me. I'm happy to say I'm their paying customer, and even though I have no skin in this game, and am just a totally unrelated third-party here, I really cannot recommend Inoreader enough at this point. 

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Feedly customers, if you're satisfied with Feedly, its service and its product, by all means, stay there and stick with what makes you happy. If you are looking for a more simple service, focused on the major blog and news sources for your own pleasurable reading experience, I suggest just sticking with Feedly. It is a nice, functional, beautiful reader, and will likely be a big name player for a long time to come.  

But if keeping up is important, and if you've really come to rely on RSS/Twitter for daily news and information, and if you consider yourself a "power user" of blogging, social media, or information management, then Inoreader is what you want. To be fair, Inoreader can appear a bit overwhelming to a new user, with its plethora of options, customizations, and features. It was a bit overwhelming for me at first too. This could be a reason to stick with the simple, clutter-free Feedly. But as I found myself using Inoreader more and more, I began to really appreciate those little customization touches and detailed settings, and the power it gave me to make my experience exactly how I wanted it to be. 

And hey, at the end of the day, I'm a bastard. If Inoreader starts to suck, and Feedly looks better, I'll gladly jump ship when my yearly subscription is up. I have no problem going back to Feedly, if need be. And in that case, if I do, you can be sure I'll add a Part 5 to this series. 

But for now, and for the next year at least, I'm a paying Inoreader supporter, and I couldn't be happier about it. 

Thanks for reading, and for more of my comparisons, see this series Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 5 if you're interested. 

No comments :

Post a Comment