If you’ve ever tried to keep up with the latest updates on multiple blogs and news sites, you know just how time-consuming that task can be. Feed readers help folks streamline that chore by consolidating the updates, from the sources they follow, in one central spot where they can be read, saved and shared.
Back in 2013, the preeminent feed reader tool was Google Reader. When Google decided to shelve the tool, users scrambled to find a solution to replace the one they had depended upon for years. Riding to the rescue, feedly quickly became a popular choice.
At its core, feedly is a solidly built feed reader that consolidates update feeds from multiple sources in one convenient spot. Here’s a highlighted tour of some of its key features:
Consolidated Home Page
Shown below, the first screen displayed after logging into feedly contains the latest updates from the sources the user follows. Plain headlines are updates that have already been read while bold headlines are updates yet to be read.
In the left sidebar, there’s a listing of sources already added to feedly. To dig down into any one source, just click the name.
Customize Your View
Feedly offers three different ways to view a list of updates: title only, magazine and card. Here’s a sample of all three:
In addition to selecting a view, the drop-down settings menu (accessed by clicking on the gear at the top of the page) lets users bulk manage the status of multiple updates as well as tweak how updates are presented.
Finally, you can also select one of the many preset themes by using the “Themes” link at the bottom of the sidebar.
Reading an Update
Clicking on an update opens a reading pane as shown below. Using the drop-down settings menu, I can alternatively set feedly to open updates at their original source in a new tab.
Adding Content Sources
Feedly makes it easy to add the content sources you want to follow. Using the “Add Content” screen, you can either search for update feeds using a source title, a URL or a topic hashtag or you can browse sources using categories.
Organizing Your Sources and Updates
Using the “Organize” link at the bottom of the sidebar, you can create and configure collections that are reflected in the list shown on the sidebar. Slicing and dicing by category or interest is a great way to keep your update list manageable.
What I Liked
Here are a few features that really stood out:
I liked how feedly has built in a sharing toolbar at the top of the reading pane. In addition, the tool enables you to preset social media update text (such as “via Twitter ID” and specific hashtags) using their preferences screen, something that saves you from retyping it each time.
Saving Updates for Later
Once you read an update, it vanishes from the list. To save one you really like or to finish one at a later time, click on the little flag to the left of the update’s headline. As you can see below, the update is then highlighted in green and can be viewed with all other saved updates on the “Saved” screen.
Feedly offers native apps for both iOS and Android devices. These let you use “dead” time (e.g. standing in lines, waiting for the kids to get out of school, etc.) to catch up on the latest updates!
Integration with My Favorite Apps
Feedly integrates with many of my favorite apps, a really big plus as far as I’m concerned. Let me give you just one example: I can set up If This Then That (IFTTT), an automation tool, to e-mail the link to an update anytime a certain phrase is included in the headline or body of the text. What a time saver!
Additional feedly Pro Integrations
In addition to the apps mentioned above, there’s even more functionality available if you sign-up and pay for a pro subscription. Aside from the additional functionality and app integration, pro subscribers can use feedly’s “Power Search,” an extended version of their regular search functionality. When you’re dealing with hundreds of updates, that really comes in handy!
Here’s what comes with a pro subscription:
What I Didn’t Like
With all these built-in features, it took longer than it should have for me to figure out the full extent of the tool’s functionality and how it all worked. This was mostly due to the lack of effective help and documentation, two things that make the learning process much easier.
I was able to look at other sites for information and guides (thanks Google search!), but a lot of what I found was outdated and that confused the situation even more. For example, when trying to figure out how to add a Twitter feed to my update sources, it took some time to discover that, as Twitter no longer offers update feeds for readers to utilize, adding one today involves a much different process than before.
All in all however, this is a slight bump in the very useful road that is feedly. If you’re looking for a way to stay in the know on the topics that affect your business, this is the tool that will help you do just that.
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