“RSS” is an acronym that doesn’t get much airtime these days – its appearance in worldwide online searches has been steadily declining since its peak in late 2005.
However, all the most plugged-in, productive people I know swear by Feedly, a news-gathering tool that lets you read all the content you rely on in one space.
It’s the leading app to have emerged from the ashes of old RSS aggregators such as Google Reader, which folded in 2013.
These aggregators allowed users to read content from all their favourite sites in one place, so they didn’t waste time clicking from page to page. This is the basic premise behind Feedly, which has been evolving for the best part of a decade, during which time it has maintained its minimalist design but added lots of functionality.
You can sign up at feedly.com with one click via a Facebook or Google account, and start typing your favourite publications or topics into its search bar to add them to your feed.
If I search for “#tech”, for example, I’m offered sites such as LifeHacker and TechCrunch. And if I search for a new site like The Guardian, I’m offered a choice between different sections of the newspaper. These are added to my personalised feed with a click and assigned a category – that way I can switch between topics that are useful for work, for instance, and those relating to personal interests. I can also download an extension that allows me to add sites to my feed, which looks like an elegant online magazine that can be read on a laptop or mobile device.
There are many similar aggregators out there, but Feedly wins thanks to its well-designed interface and extra options. This includes a $5.41-per-month “Pro” upgrade that allows users to share their Feedly collections, and a $12.08-per-month “Team” version that includes integration with the communications tool Slack.
The basic site should be more than enough for most users, though, and it integrates with other apps and extensions, like IFTTT, which allows users to automatically save their Feedly articles to read later offline, using sites such as Pocket, Evernote and Instapaper.
q&a really simple syndication
Jessica Holland expands on why RSS is still relevant in 2015:
Why do I need Feedly in my life?
If there’s one thing that can make a difference to business success, it’s staying on top of new developments in the field, but constantly monitoring every website of interest wastes time. Social networking platforms such as Twitter can be used as a de facto RSS feed, but these also can be distracting and inefficient: we’re probably following the odd friend or entertaining celebrity as well as those important professional news sources. RSS, however unfashionable it might be considered, is still a good tool to have in your arsenal. All it takes is a couple of minutes to set up, then the feed can be checked, tweaked or ignored.
What does “RSS” mean?
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary, although it has also been referred to by its architects as Really Simple Syndication. It’s essentially a way of structuring data on websites so that it can automatically be sent out to aggregators. Its decline is due to some companies cutting their RSS feeds to protect their content, and because of the rise of news-sharing via social media, but it still has many advantages over these platforms.
Is RSS here to stay?
Feedly’s user numbers would suggest that it is: its paid subscriber figures have jumped from 5,000 in 2013 to about 50,000 in early 2015, and its Android app has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times.
What gadgets is it compatible with?
Take your pick from iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows and BlackBerry devices.
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