Google Pulls The Plug On Reader Service After 8 Years

For the millions who had gotten used to having their favorite online news delivered via Google in neatly stacked headlines, it's a tough day. The company shut down Google Reader on Monday after eight years.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel, and it's time now for All Tech Considered.

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SIEGEL: Today is a tough day for the millions of users of Google Reader. The free service helps people get automatic updates from their favorite websites. And it has developed a loyal following of news junkies and others. But after eight years, Google is pulling the plug on the Reader tonight.

NPR's Elise Hu is here to talk with us about this. Hi.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: And first, for folks who might not be familiar, how does Google Reader work? What does it do?

HU: Well, Google Reader uses RSS. That's a technology that lets users subscribe to feeds of their favorite news sites and blogs. And an aggregator like Reader would bring in all those feeds to one place and kind of stack up your headlines neatly for you. So instead of you going out and reading one news site at a time with bookmarks, you would just log into your Reader and all of those sites would be stacked up for you.

SIEGEL: And why has Google decided to lay the Reader to rest?

HU: Well, Google has been offering this service as a free service for many years, and it decided it just wasn't worth the overhead. Even though its users are loyal, that usage has been dropping over the last few years as more and more of us have turned to Facebook and our Twitter feeds for our news. And so RSS readers in general were getting less useful because, as we're seeing more and more content, that makes us feel overloaded. It's this endless buffet of headlines that kind of made us feel guilty.

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SIEGEL: So where are these guilty users of Google Reader going now that they don't have Google Reader - or they won't by midnight have Google Reader anymore?

HU: That's right. Well, there is a clean and pretty simple-to-use service called Feedly - it's spelled F-E-E-D-L-Y - that seems to be leading the pack in terms of replacements. Digg, which was dormant for a few years, launched a reader just last week. And finally, NewsBlur also, which you might have heard of, seems to be in competition.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Elise.

HU: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Elise Hu covers technology and culture for NPR and writes for our All Tech Considered blog.

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