20 May 2021

TechCrunch: “Google revives RSS”

Chrome, at least in its experimental Canary version on Android (and only for users in the U.S.), is getting an interesting update in the coming weeks that brings back RSS, the once-popular format for getting updates from all the sites you love in Google Reader and similar services.

In Chrome, users will soon see a “Follow” feature for sites that support RSS and the browser’s New Tab page will get what is essentially a (very) basic RSS reader — I guess you could almost call it a “Google Reader”.

Now we’re not talking about a full-blown RSS reader here. The New Tab page will show you updates from the sites you follow in chronological order, but it doesn’t look like you can easily switch between feeds, for example. It’s a start, though.

Frederic Lardinois

An unexpected update from Google, considering how long they have neglected RSS since shutting down Google Reader. Maybe someone has finally decided to offer a product to compete with Twitter and Facebook, to attract people who are unsatisfied with algorithmic newsfeeds and are asking for a simple, chronological solution.

Google Chrome mobile Follow sites on New Tab page

Still, we shouldn’t get our hopes up: this looks like a minor experiment with a minor scope. A section in a mobile browser’s New Tab page offers limited space and it will quickly be overrun if people start following multiple sources with frequent updates. Blogger offers a similar reading list, naturally focused on Blogger blogs, but it is also difficult to use with even moderate lists, lacking advanced features. At the time I switched from Google Reader to Feedbin (I remained a happy subscriber since) I had around 275 subscriptions, and that list has only grown with each passing year. It would be quite impossible for me to manage such a large list of sites on a single mobile tab, and even modest news consumers will be unsatisfied with this bare-bones solution.

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