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I have a question for avid Google Reader users: what are the aspects of the way Reader works that made it so useful for you? I've heard a number of things floated in the past day -- e.g., the particular sources available, the way of managing read/unread state, various aspects of the UI -- but I'd like to understand better what the concrete things about Reader were which people found the most useful, because I'd like to integrate those ideas into future versions of many Google products, and try to capture that value.

(NB: If you're seeing this via a reshare, please remember to comment on the original post if you want me to see what you're saying!)

Warning: This is not a thread to simply complain about the shutdown, or to ask Google to keep Reader. That's not something that I can help you with, nor is it a decision that I had anything to do with, and this is not a good place to get anyone's attention about that. This thread is a place to talk about specific things which are useful about it so that we can think about good ways to capture that usefulness in the modern world.

Comments which disregard the previous paragraph will simply be deleted. Comments complaining about my deleting those comments will result in me blocking and/or mercilessly mocking you for failing to read instructions. Comments complaining about that will lead to some interesting replies in a combination of languages, probably starting with Yiddish and moving on from there. Comments interested in the Yiddish language should instead go on my post from last night. (http://goo.gl/xxn7h, but I should say that I'm not an expert or a fluent speaker of the language)

NB: The comments have filled up! Please check out my comment at the end of the post.
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479 comments
 
I was until today planning to use it so subscribe to corporate blogs to hear the news before tech news sites regurgitate all this information on their site
 
I like the list based view of articles as well as the ability to know what articles have been read when I use different platforms.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I often use Google Reader when I'm interested in following a particular comment thread. It's preferable to subscribing via email and then setting up yet another filter for that particular discussion.
 
I don't particularly like Google Reader, but the RSS apps I do like use Reader to sync across devices. I'm sure Reeder will find some fallback.

My big concern about the death of Reader is what it means for the Pub/Sub content model going forward. I find social networks absolutely terrible places for finding useful information. RSS allows me to aggregate a stream of any generated content I like, in a consistent and well understood format.
Matt Uebel
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Simple logical layout. I always read in the minimal format- if a headline caught my interest I would expand. If further description really caught my attention, I would share out. Each of these functions were nested within each other, matching my increasing interest.

Once shared or not, it is quick to move to another label, or another item, and everything would snap back up, once again matching my desired attention level.
 
A big part of why I never hesitated to stop using it even being an early adopter of G+ was it's clean interface. Even using sparks (I think that's the name) wasn't clean. It didn't have the efficient notifications of new articles/post/content.
 
Public tags was important for me as I also used Reader to aggregate and publish a feed of a specific topic from across various blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, publishers, and Google Blog Search. I then burned that feed in FeedBurner, and used both Socialize to push to Twitter and the Publicize feature to embed in a page on Blogger.
 
I actually use Reader exclusively for podcasts.   It's the simplest way that I've found to synchronize podcast feeds between my desktop browser and aggregator on my phone.  I can listen to a podcast in any browser or on BeyondPod on my phone and the "read" status is synchronized to whatever device I'm using a the time.
 
+Charlie Hoover was posting about the Reader thing and I'm sure will be willing to post his thoughts for how his use of the product could be transferred to G+.

I personally hardly used it because of lack of time and thus will avoid poking at you just to enjoy watching you make good on your awesome threats, Doc.  See?  I can occasionally behave. ;D
 
The way it organized data was wonderful, and its digital proximity to g+ was great. I also like the functions: save for later, favorite, keep read, etc. There are also no comparable products on the market in terms of UI and design. 
 
Oh, right. I also used Reader for my Listen Subscriptions folder which was later used by the Listen Up app, Google Listen's spiritual successor.
 
It had a lot of nice organization layered on top of it for keeping different feeds read, unread, etc.  I also liked the way it could be set up to mark things read as you scrolled past (a surprising number force you to click each one read, that kind of thing).
 
I agree with Remy, it is a single point for all of my RSS feeds and, because it is Google, almost every newsreader supports it.

I start my news reading with a client on my iPad, reading the feeds collected in Reader. If a site doesn't have a RSS feed it is not going to get my attention with two exceptions - Google+ and Facebook. I have about 1200 different sources all organized so that I can pick a topic (News and Info, Comics, Friends, etc.) and quickly skim and read, using keyboard shortcuts.

Yesterday I took a look at some of the other products out there - they all are horrible interfaces, lacking in keyboard shortcuts, trying to be magazines or newsprint or whatever. 

Google+ and Facebook aren't the same thing. There is too much signal to noise on either social sites. I just want to be able to read/skim posts, devour what I want and clear out for the next day.
 
It has the best Android app I have ever used. It is simple, do what I want, do not have annoying options. It is fast and stable. I may be used on almost every screen size. There is no "chat", "hangout", "video", "dance mamba" abi9lities - just only what I subscribed, organized in ergonomic way.
What a pity Google plan to shut down it...
 
Thanks for the chance to chime in, +Yonatan Zunger .
For me, it was the very compact and efficient use of the screen to let me quickly scan and process hundreds of feeds, organized carefully in folders, using features like read/unread and starring to keep track of things. The UI is a lot like Gmail, and that worked great for me - organize things with labels and stars, process lots of items quickly and efficiently in the main reading frame.
As with Gmail, the search features in Reader were very good. I continue to be extremely frustrated by the lack of good searching here at Google+.
I am also a big fan of "bundles," being able to use my organization of feeds into folders to then repurpose that content elsewhere (e.g. blogroll in a blog sidebar).
 
Hm, this all sounds kind of nifty. I guess I've kind of left it a little late to actually try it out. ;^)
 
It integrates nicely with my life and doesn't take up much space. I'm a big fan of my iGoogle homepage. With a click of a button on my desktop, I've got access to everything. The latest news, my inbox and the newest emails, my calendar, my G+ alerts, the weather, movie times, and so on. And on top of that, I've got this Google Reader box that shows me the latest news, deals and comics that I care about without having to dig through various other websites. It's small and clean without a huge colorful interface filled with pictures. AND, all of the above is synced right to my Android so I don't miss anything on the go.

Simple and synced and covers everything I need. Perfection.

Why do you have to ruin this? :(
 
The Reddit-ish simplicity of the service and its speed were winning factors for me. I didn't want the bling that other services brought with them, the loaders, fadeouts and animations just bothered me when I had hundreds of items to read per day. It was the old school interface that I'll miss. It also used a heck of a less memory than other, more modern readers do, and as someone with 25+ active tabs at all times, that matters.
lee colleton
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This very thread would be a great example of something that I'd like to follow up at some point but do not want a notification of every post. When I come back to it, I'll have to sort through and see which comments I've read and which I haven't because G+ doesn't disclose this information. What is the correct way of completing this "save for later" action? Do I share the post with myself with a hash tag #readme ? Should I try and fish through my Notifications list if I remember to follow it up? Should I bookmark the post in Chrome? Save it into Google Tasks? There are many ways of doing this and it's not clear which is best. What is clear is that this case isn't well handled in the current UI.
 
Instead of saying why I used Reader, instead I'll say why I stopped:  I had too many places to go to follow things, and the incoming rate from G+ was high enough to make that ok.

And I'll add what RSS-type features that I wish G+ had:

- ability to get RSS feeds "in stream"
- ability to see that there were things I missed from various circles (ie, unread/unseen items).

Other features that would be the bomb for me:  reading list for links/read it later/etc.  I tend to queue up a massive pile of open tabs that can take days to fully close out.
 
1) List view.  Let me scan all of the posts before I decide which ones to read in full.  And then "Mark all as read" for when I'm done scanning.

2) Explicit read/unread state for posts and comments, so I can see at a glance which parts are new and which are not.

I should never have to "expand comments" to find the ones I haven't read.  I should never have to read through my own comments to figure out which one was +1'd by whom.
Rob Gordon
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I think the tags are great - I wish they had done that here and hidden them from the body of the posts.   I like the way the page reads are set up - so you can mark a page as read - also wish they had done that here so we could catch up with circles instead of a chaotic flood in our streams.  I like the logic, and the topic based nature of the service - I also - never mind, and I like the search, and most of all I like the effectiveness - unlike most social networks, it was designed to be efficient not "sticky" and time consuming.  It always reminded me of an old Mercedes - you don't care that it is old - it runs great. 

To me it has been an integral part of the Google+ experience - almost all my posts come from there even if they are not shown as being shared from Reader.  My experience here has been severely curtailed by this decision. 
Aaron Wood
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Cross-device synchronization of what I've read.  I float between multiple devices all the time, and not having that back-end sync'd gets tedious in a hurry.
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The minimum design, social media and twitter can not replace a simple list. No profile pictures, no cute comments, just content staring at me.

Control, I control what I want to read by expanding it. I really like verge articles, I don't want big pictures and comments getting in the way of the article. I click read the short paragraph they provide. if I'm interested I visit the site. Flipboard, currents, do not rep[lace the simplicity and control that reader provides. With reader the content appears to me how I want it to be presented not the way the content creator wants it to be presented.
 
Clean, minimalistic interface (maybe a bit ugly, but you could easily fix that using custom CSS), keyboard shortcuts, folders view (combining multiple feeds in one stream). Managing 300+ feeds wasn't a problem.
 
I never used Google Reader (as such, I'm not that sad about it's departure), but the thing I see in here, I totally agree with, is how easy it is to distinguish read/unread compared to social media.

The biggest problem social networks have, is starting from the most recent, and moving back. That means, the point where I last read is "somewhere in the middle" of my scrollbar. I have no convenient way of denoting where I was in my feed last time I was reading it. Maybe a way to jump down to that point would be especially helpful, and a marker to show you where it was.

I know a lot of social media likes to hide random messages to try and pick what it thinks you want to see, but I like to see everything I follow. And that means when I get on, I need to read everything since the last time I was on. And right now, that's kind of a pain, on any social network.
 
Critically, reader kept track of information from sources I care about and most importantly it kept track of whether I had seen that info or not. The UI, I couldn't care less. The main reason I chose Reader over other solutions is Reader did the very best job at keeping in sync with various faulty feeds and merging updates vs. new items and so on. And of course it's nice that it was always available wherever so it worked well as a sync platform.

But the main thing is true of any RSS feed aggregator styled like Reader, it's an inbox of sorts. It is this aspect that no current social network succeeds at, in fact, G+ and FB actively destroy this feature because they reorder incoming data or filter it behind my back.
Erin W
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In addition to everything else listed?

The best feature of Google Reader is the ability to mark things as "read" and have them go away unless I choose to "view all" later. If that could somehow translate to, say, a feature you can turn on for certain G+ circles/communities? Much more effective than simply muting posts. 

Second best feature is support for in-post audio listening for most feeds (i.e. listening to podcasts inside Reader without having to download anything).
 
I liked that it was one source in which I could gather all my important news into one place to quickly glance and read. Keeps me in the loop on open source github projects without the clutter of email notifications. Easy grouping of similar feeds as well.
 
Feed organization is probably the best feature for me. My feeds are arranged into separate categories - business, music, Inland Empire, work-related, etc. So when I'm at work, I can just look at the work-related feeds.

In addition, some feeds are double-categorized and are also placed into a PRIORITY-LOW category. When my reading time is limited, I just mark all the PRIORITY-LOW stuff as read and then look at the rest.
 
Yeah, management of incoming info in the social network age is a huge downgrade from doing the same thing via email and rss readers. It's way too hard to keep track of info coming from sources you care about with social networks. You ultimately have to either go extremely light on what you follow or just accept that you might miss some really interesting/important posts. I hate that. At least with Twitter my clients sync positions and the content is light by definition and it always comes in the same order with zero filtering. It's still no competitor for a good RSS aggregator.
 
I liked the quickness of information. I could go through the day's news from hundreds of sources much more quickly than going to each site and scrolling through.

The keyboard shortcuts to run through them made this a breeze. J, J, J, J, J... so much quicker than scrolling. Throw in an S every now and then for stuff I wanted to show my wife later, way faster than using Evernote's web clipper or something like that.

There's no way to get this out of G+, Facebook, or Twitter currently. Maybe it's something you can roll into G+.
 
I wrote a post about this this morning: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101469876828505201836/posts/ZJLinyFLu2s

In brief:  In G+ things slip by me, even posts from people in circles that are up to full and with notification turned on.

In reader, I could easily save things for later reference.  Looking up that thing you saw yesterday turns out to be harder in G+ than I thought it would be.  I loved the star.

I want to be able to get rid of things that I've seen and don't want to see any more.  
 
I know if is unpopular, but I liked the focus on clean, easy to read text. I want to read, if pictures are included that is fine, but I liked that it mostly replicated the pages as presented and didn't try to make it something else.

I don't want the web to look like a magazine all the time.

I liked that I didn't have to think about how it worked. 

I liked the focus on one thing, consuming without trying to make it do everything.
 
The ability to know that I'm up to date on the sources that are important to me was key for my liking of reader.  Also important was the ease that I could see how many articles were left to read, the ability to use across multiple devices and an open API.    What I don't get in G+ is that I can catch up on news but it's just a never ending stream which eventually I may decide to stop reading if I think I've already read an article.
Joseph Rizzo
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It was clean, fast.  It worked across platforms.  I could organize my feeds as I choose to.  I could quickly clear things that I knew I wasn't going to have a chance to go through.  I don't have to rely on others to tell me what I should know (Ie using Twitter instead).
 
Synchronization across platforms and apps. I never actually used the GUI. My RSS reader of choice, pre-iPhone, was NetNewsReader. It synced with Google Reader, and then I use a couple iPhone readers (Feeddler and one other) depending on what kind of experience I want (hardcore article reading, or newspaper style). They all synchronized quite nicely.

Also, having Reader do the fetching greatly sped up the process and allowed me to have hundreds (at least) of feeds without worrying about sitting there while it read all of them on my phone.

Of course, if my usage pattern was normal, then I'd shut down the service too. Major resource hit, no way to monetize.
 
1) Collapsed view allowed me to quickly scan a lot of headlines and find the interesting ones I actually care to read.
2) Read/Unread markings and counts which are synced across the web and mobile interfaces. This has many benefits, but in particular it allowed me to keep track of sites which are not updated as often as other site. In other words it prevented them from being missed in the deluge of stories from other sites.
3) The ability to easily organize feeds and switch between them. The multi-level folder view which showed which feeds have new items is invaluable.
4) (edited to add) Starred posts! I really wish there was a way to do this in G+.
 
Stored state across all my devices. Fast. Keyboard shortcuts. Information dense. Open, widely-used standards. Headline view. Solid and focused smartphone web-app.
 
No. 1 reason for me: it was FAST! G+ is a slow lumbering pig compared to Reader.
 
1. I can easily scan articles and expand only the ones I am really interested in.

2 I have there hundreds of feeds in tens categories. Years of effort that I am very pleased of.

3. Extremely fast search: if I forget to star an article and I need to get back to it, I just search for it and I got it instantly.

4. Very stable Android app.
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The ability to scan huge amounts of data at extremely high speed. Using the J/K hotkeys, you can skim dozens of articles in seconds, stopping to glance at something that catches your eye, read it in full without any additional action, then continue skimming. 

The Read/Unread status let me be sure I wasn't missing anything. If I went on vacation and didn't read anything for a week or two, everything would be waiting for me when I got back. While Twitter or G+ only care about what is newest, Reader let me go back as far as I needed to, while also letting me clear out the backlog whenever I decided it was necessary. 

The ability to aggregate feeds into folders, and read the folders in a combined timeline was fantastic. I could have a folder of all politics news, and see how events unfold across sources. 

On the old Reader, the ability to share something in full with a single click was priceless. No worrying about excerpts, or quotes, or summaries, just share the whole thing at once. 
Also, the ability to scan my friend's shared items with the same high-speed tool, with an unread count to make sure you didn't miss anything from people you consider valuable. 
 
I like that it makes it easy to pick up where you left off, that you can star special things.  I also really like that I can visit a random site and collect its feed right into the reader.  It's the little touches like that.  It's not just a firehose of streaming stuff that I have to gingerly step into and figure out where the hell I was last...
 
Oh yeah, the text to picture ratio is good!
 
I like the ability Reader provides to very, very rapidly skim through large amounts of information. It's almost like a video game: with my fingers over 'j', 's', and 'v', I can triage posts at high speed: skim headline - not interested / interested in maybe reading later / interested in reading in full, right now.

With that amount of control, I feel freer to open up my filters a bit and expose myself to more of an information deluge. That, in turn, makes me feel more empowered and widely read: I don't have to rely on someone I happen to be socially connected to me to curate content for me.
 
Reader displayed everything and let me choose how and if to filter it. It's also disaggregated: no fancy integrations required, just publish your data as RSS and Reader will pick it up if people want to read it. This let it work equally well for very frequently updated blogs and very infrequently updated webcomics.

As a corollary to the comments above about only showing me new content/comments and maintaining unread state, it also had a pretty good search box for the years of old (and not always still available at the original URLs!) items. G+ is still kind of missing a high-quality search.
 
Google Reader, let me count the ways:

1) Concise neat lists! I love lists! No extraneous data, just a neat row of lists. I can sort my feeds into topical folders and then read either a feed at a time (lovely) or the whole topic at a time (also lovely). This makes it very easy to just skim titles and pick and choose. This ability to switch between reading everything one at a time, or to mark everything as read, is amazingly powerful.

2) Syncs between devices. I can read on my phone through the mobile UI, my tablet through multiple different readers, and my browser. All of them are a little different but they sync perfectly. (My main tablet reader doesn't support hover text, so I use Google's reader, which I like less, to read comics that have hover text.) This is actually the killer app that I couldn't properly replicate when I dug around a while back actively looking for a Reader replacement, because I don't have the time to run my own server. (There are self-hosted server solutions. But that is not trivial. There is a good web-based solution, Newsblur, but the Android app for it is very weak compared to the Android apps that sync to Reader.)

3) Ninety percent of the time, if I wanted to sub to a blog, I could just paste the main URL into the sub box without having to hunt all over the page for the subscribe button. The rest of the time, clicking the subscribe button gets it in.

4) Can sort by oldest or newest, though the oldest sort is limited in how far back it will go. Still, very nice for reading things like webcomics in order. (I tend to read in chunks at a time.) Oh how I wish I could sort a circle from last read oldest on G+, so often. G+ no longer even tells me which posts I've read, which is super disorienting. This is annoying on Twitter, too. Some of us don't just skim whatever is there when we happen to be able to read, but like to read everything from certain people. Which is of course easier with the kinds of stuff fed by RSS, which tend to be more single-topic (longer form blogs, usually, or topical updates from a service.)

5) Very easy to read from one post to another, or to look at just snippets from one post to the next without a big load time wait when drilling into posts of interest. I loathe the magazine style readers like Currents, Flipboard, Feedly, and Pulse for just reading my favorite blogs. Not only do they put undue emphasis on the pictures, taking up huge chunks of valuable screen real estate, they usually force a load wait because they haven't properly cached the underlying entry but just cached the snippet. They are adequate for discovery or for lightly skimming a feed that updates too fast for me to want to read all of it, but that's it. I was using Currents in a limited way to occasionally skim through high volume sites, but mostly not bothering with it. It is absolutely not a replacement for Reader; it's coming from an entirely different paradigm. Reader was also a lot more accessible because it was in a purer text medium. This is extra important for people who have accessibility needs; Reader in a web browser plus Minimalist for Google and possibly Stylish could alter the look and feel enough to help it be more readable.

6) Blogs are just better than social media for a certain kind of reading, anything that is structured around a specific topic. It's impossible for me to find an old post in G+ even if I remember who posted it, if they are high volume posters. Their posts are all mixed up because there's no topicality. Communities don't really fix this because they also end up full of clutter and noise. Blogs are simply better at topic handling, and an infrequently updated but cherished RSS feed does not get lost in the noise the way it happens on social media. RSS shines for webcomics that update irregularly because of this.

7) Later retrieval: If it's a locked community or a limited post, I can't store it in a bookmarking service like Pocket or Pinboard for later reference. I read it once and it's gone forever unless I get very lucky with the search. Search is not a substitute for hierarchical marking, and Reader's minimalist but sufficient tools for that (starring and marking unread, backed by offline sites such as Pocket or Pinboard) are simply superior. Starring being synced of course is lovely -- starring is one of those deceptively simple UI things that is another thing I really want on G+. Reader is adequately integrated into offline retrieval services.

8) I can stop reading it for a few months and not simply lose everything farther back than a few days. I can catch up if I want to, or not.

TL;DR: Reader isn't my favorite RSS reader ever, actually, but the web version was serviceable and didn't get in my way too much (the recent UI redesign wasn't my favorite, but it was workable), and syncing to Android clients such as NewsRob or my phone's browser on mobile UI made it a highly serviceable read-anywhere solution that also supported offline reading.
 
My use would agree mostly with +Todd Vierling. Primarily, I liked the ability to star certain items. In Google+, I share items to a circle in which I'm the only user, but this is more steps and becomes impractical. It's nicer to just click a star (or hit a key on the keyboard) and move on.

The fact that items could be marked as read/unread was nice, though in time it created a feeling of frustration - like I had some work to do. So, I'd probably be fine without that.

For those places that have RSS feeds and still haven't caught up to publishing regularly to social media sites, being able to subscribe to the RSS feeds is key. It made the potential world of information so much larger.

To be honest, if Google+ were to support starring items and we could subscribe to RSS feeds, that would really be awesome. Perhaps in addition to starring, the ability to quickly add private labels (in the same way public hashtags are added) to posts that are not our own would be great as well.

One other key factor that I haven't seen mentioned yet is a matter of content ownership. In Google Reader, the information was ours. If an article was published to an RSS feed and it landed in my Google Reader "inbox", the publisher couldn't take it out after-the-fact. The same applies to email. With social media, however, information can be in my stream one minute and gone the next. I can never really rely on this information being available to me later, which takes quite a bit of control away.

Perhaps if an item were starred or a private label were attached, it could also take a snapshot of that item in time. The snapshot would only be available to me (and possibly not sharable), while the shared version could continue to evolve over time or be removed by the owner. I should be able to see both the current state of the post as well as the snapshot I took when I starred or labeled it. The alternative is just too many steps. I suppose, alternately, starring or labeling items could just generate a notification email with the contents to our own inbox.

I understand, though, that if stars existed, people might +1 articles less often. I suspect this is a reason stars have been kept out of Google+. I'm not sure I have a solution to this that wouldn't make stars less convenient than I'd like them to be.
 
I loved the keyboard navigation, the analytics that let me know which feeds were active and which ones I'd been consuming and the sync'ed state across devices.  (Those are features hopefully you can use in other products, +Yonatan Zunger .)  Otherwise, the obvious: it was a responsive feed reader.  I prefer to have a place that'll ensure I know which updates I'm missing.  (Rivers of information are great, too.  But I'd like to be able to know when I've missed data without having to click or swipe much.)
 
The best thing is how it automatically keeps track of what's read and lets you see only the unread. Also like how it always shows things in chronological order. Would love to see those qualities in G+.

There's also the little things, like how it causes my pinned tab in Chrome to flash when there are new items so I can notice updates instantly without being annoyingly interrupted if I'm busy. The one thing I wish it would've done is automatically load new entries when I wasn't looking so I wouldn't have to click refresh after switching to the tab. (adding them to the bottom of course)

It was also one of the best coded Google products. Just looking at the HTML source makes me feel warm and fuzzy (and makes it much easier to create custom CSS for it).
 
(BTW, I want to thank everyone on this thread for being incredibly constructive: these comments are exactly the sort of thing I wanted to hear and understand from you all. I'm not going to be responding to things much, since I'm hear primarily to listen and learn, but I want you to know that what you're saying is very much being listened to!)
 
1) aggregate material from roughly any feed source (they don't have to be specifically publishing to reader / plus)
2) extreme information density (no pictures, no whitespace, etc)
3) optimized for high volume consumption (keyboard shortcuts, star for later)

I'm in mourning. :-(
 
Oh and Reader was actually the Google mobile web UI that made me willing to try using any other mobile web pages at all on my phone... I had been so used to mobile pages being painful and awful, but Reader's mobile UI was actually quite delightful. It's still my favorite mobile page of all mobile pages, even after its recent redesign. (Edited for app->page as it's not an app, it's a page!)
 
I never used Google Reader directly. I use (and love) Google+. However. I used Google Reader in that a lot of my favorite content on Google+ was essentially curated comments and shares by heavy users of reader; this easy transmission of selected content from aggregation to Google+ is thus the feature I worry the most about; Google Reader kept people I am interested in hearing from in and connected to the ecosystem of Plus.
 
In reading through these, it also strikes me that Reader provided an excellent backbone for many other applications layered on top of it. 
 
Simplicity and clarity of interface, integration into my email and social streams, but most importantly, the HISTORY of posts I've flagged for follow-up.  Years of history makes for a long term relationship with ideas and data that I don't necessarily want to capture and relate to (through writing) now, but a wealth to pore through and digest.  

It's like keeping newspaper clippings and articles from magazines but with the benefits of crosslinking and referencing quickly.  It's an information relationship that I might be able to capture with a future RSS reader or application, but it's outside of my google world.
 
Thanks for asking for this feedback, +Yonatan Zunger

For me, the simple text-based Web interface makes it easy to efficiently keep up with the specific sources I need to read (or at least scan) exhaustively on a daily basis. I can simply click on any group I've created and see all the latest posts from the included feeds at a glance, then easily mark items as read so I know where I left off. The more image-based utilities like Flipboard and Currents are fine for casual browsing but not so effective for this type of use.

The API allows me to choose a top-notch Android app with a similarly text-driven UI that's always synced with my feed list and up to date on what items I have and haven't read. For anyone who frequently moves between a PC and a phone and/or tablet, this type of universal and standard-based access is invaluable to have.

In terms of content, I use Reader to monitor a variety of different RSS sources (feeds from blogs, press release feeds, corporate feeds, etc), many of which are virtually impossible to keep up with in any other manageable way.
 
1. Starring items is much better than bookmarking.

2. Cross-platform synchronization as all feed state (articles read/unread, etc is tied to my Profile so no matter what browser I log into I can pick up where I left off).

3. It has a full API that allows me to use any app/client I want. There are tons. On my Nexus 10 I use gReader, on iPhone (yes, I know. I'm saving for the Nexus 5.) I use GReader (no relation to gReader), on desktop the web UI.

4. Article list view (I hate the magazine metaphor as it greatly slows my ability to scan article titles to find the good stuff).

5. Custom feed URLs. Currents will not allow my to manually type/paste in a feed URL. It only allows you to subscribe to content providers that are on the canned list or who show up in search results. That is a walled garden.

6. Funneling content into Google+ (like Sparks did). Instead of having to browse to a 100 different sites, I could go to one Google property which provided a great sharing opportunity to punt things into my Stream. Google basically had a content firehose for providers that do not have a G+ presence.

7. Sequential article flow (not sorted by what's "trending")

8. Article tagging
 
Yep, I could handle lots and lots of feeds, and the ease of sharing to G+ made it my favorite go to for finding content in the science, world, and political news areas which are my favorite haunts to share info on. I used it as a place to discover what was happening so I could decide if it was worth sharing with others.
 
The main reason I like Reader is really part of the nature of RSS. There are a few sources of information that I have chosen that I really want everything from. I don't want a curated smorgasbord; I want that narrow-but-deep view.

I've barely started using Feedly, but the two main differences that are making me twitch are really about speed of use.

First: App vs. site. Google Reader is a web site. I type in the URL, and I'm already there. Feedly is styling itself as an app, so I have to open a new tab, switch to the app list, and then click the icon. This also means I can't use Feedly from any browser. I need to install and setup an application first.

Second: The first view. I read articles by feed or folder. In Feedly, to access folders I have to click another button first. And then the feeds and folders aren't in the same list. They're separate lists on opposite sides of the screen. With Google Reader I only need one click to start reading a feed or a folder.

It's not going to affect how I use the sites, but it's also disconcerting to me, for some reason, that a complete list of all my feeds, whether they have unread articles or not, is so buried in Feedly. I like that the complete list is right up front on Reader.

So basically, with Reader I'm one line of text and one click away from my content. With Feedly I'm several clicks away and the things I'm looking for aren't even close to each other on the screen.

Those are some very specific things about Reader vs. Feedly, but just in general Reader is so quick and easy to use. That's why I like it.
 
I've noticed that social feeds don't give me the depth of information and updates that I can get by subscribing to the various sites that I follow via RSS. Much like what +Mike Elgan says in one of his posts about Google Reader (http://goo.gl/y2hp1), "it's about user-controlled content in a world where everything is increasingly controlled by algorithms." I suppose subscribing to RSS can be done using other tools. But Google Reader is easy to use, has a minimal UI, and is very reliable.

The things I like specifically about Google Reader -
1. Navigation using keyboard: You can organize your feeds into folders. After you select the first unread item in the first folder, you can read thought all your feed items using your keyboard-- 'J', 'K', spacebar etc. This has always been reliable and consistent.
2. Android app: Unread, read, and starred items all syncs perfectly between the app and the web.
3. Search: I can search for posts that have popped in via RSS since I subscribed to it. So even old, read posts can be quickly searched and found.
4. 3rd Party app:
4.1: I used to use Google Listen for podcasts, which managed it's files and feeds using Google Reader. I now use BeyondPod, which uses Google Reader to manage podcasts that you add manually.
4.2: I use IFTT to send items I star in Google Reader to Pocket to read offline later.

It's a pity that such a good service is being shut down. I can't find another tool that provides all of the functionality that Google Reader has. It is the tool that I spend most time on online--more than my email inboxes and social media.
 
I never used Google Reader myself, but my wife +Allyson Whipple is one of the many avid users who will be affected by this decision. Perhaps she has some insight for you, Yonatan.
 
The thing I like about Reader (and RSS Readers in general) is that the UI supports a deceptively simple request: "Just show me a list of the new stuff in the threads (or categories, or tags) I care about right now so I can pick and choose what to read.". This is also the killer feature in NNTP news readers, BTW.

By contrast, I've tried organizing G+ sources into topical circles, but few people post solely about the topic I follow them for (they work for access control and for non-topical groups, such as those who work for a particular company, or who live in my city/state). Communities are more topically focused, but as soon as you are a member of more than one related community you lose the organization (since you can't put communities into circles). For that matter, I can't even see just a list of the new stuff in a single community. You would think notifications would help, but they are almost useless as well, except for the circles/communities where you have to see every post.

Surfing streams is great, but for an info junkie, G+ has been maddening due to the lack of control over filtering, sorting, read/unread, etc.
 
- Choose my own feed groupings.
- The ability to mark blocks as read as I skim.
- No separate login credentials.
- The security of not dealing with a small independent company.
- Seamless switching between device apps and computer browser.
 
A few reasons, three general to RSS, and one specific to Google Reader:
1) Keep up-to-date with websites that don't update frequently (these get drowned in streams)
2) Explicit read/unread (G+/Twitter streams don't do that)
3) Sync across web and mobile

and...

4) Searching Reader is approximately equivalent to "search things I have seen"

The first three can be covered by moving to another cloud-based reader, but #4 will be hard to replace.
 
+Gregg Sakauye You're really going to leave that security bullet on the list given the cancellation of Reader? :)
 
Searching Reader is approximately equivalent to "search things I have seen"

THIS!!!!
 
Reader tracked read/unread state and "mark all as read" to acknowledge I'll never get around to some posts. Nearly every data source publishes RSS so Reader became a "universal inbox" for me. Sort by Magic helped prioritize the fire hose. Keyboard shortcuts for switching folders and posts made navigation very fast. Reader UI shows just text titles for each post letting me skim huge volumes of data quickly without seeing distracting images/detail. Folders let me drill down to the level of detail I wanted at any given moment. Reader waited patiently until I asked for info rather than pushing it on me with notifications. Before "like" button and its keyboard shortcut was removed, it gave me an instant way to train it on which posts I cared about.
Bok CHoy
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for Reader which i used since day one, I liked:
- using it on multiple computers and having my read/unread consistent due to my google account
- I trusted google more than i would creating an account at some other rss site
- organizing/drag drop of feeds
- being able to share/+1
- Number one thing i will miss is that it was my home page/portal.
-- All my feeds were in once place and were sorted how i liked them, unlike how with something like twitter or  G+ my stream keeps moving as more people post
-- some pages i followed there by rss will likely not have a G+ presense so i will now miss them
-- I only use G+ and Reader, i would never have turned to G+ if i wasn't a Reader user (gateway drug?)
-- i could use it at work because google sites aren't blocked, i can't say for sure this will be the case with my next rss tool
 
I mostly like it for its spare, text based interface and the single point of aggregation for what I have read, what I have saved for later and what is marked (starred) for action of some sort. Any browser I get in front of is always current.
+Sarah Frier 
 
Starring. Consolidating RSS feeds, especially private/ monitoring ones, in one service, without the need to leave Google, which has my data anyway. And starring. Seriously, why not have starring across all Google products (yes, G+ as well) and have a feed of starred items? 
 
Also, somewhat meta, Reader being a Google product kept publishers honest (or speculating about better PR) /wrt to providing RSS feeds in the first place. 
 
It was (still is) simple, straight forward, all about delivering content without too much getting in the way. Having folders is great, I can go look at a whole group of feeds and leave others for later. But simplicity is the key. 
 
Maybe +Jake Weisz but it's a different sentiment between +1ing something expressing a qualifying info bit vs. simply marking rather neutrally. 
 
The ability to easily sort my feeds by category.

The ability to easily read what I wanted and ensure that which was unread would remain so for later.

The ability to easily find things I'd enjoyed.

The convenience of having my webcomics and regular blog posts show up first thing in the morning so I wouldn't have to visit each site independently.

The ability for sites that don't update regularly to get read and not end up lost in the glut of other stuff.

Meanwhile, it's nearly impossible for me to relocate a post I liked on Google+. Way less convenient than Reader. Plus, other services are different markets that cater to different sensibilities. I don't want my daily webcomics to show up in Plus, because Plus already has enough content. I want them to show up in Reader. Plus is where I talk to my friends. Plus is where I share things I saw in Reader. Meanwhile, Reader is where I can be sure I get regular content from sites I like, rather than dealing with an organizational mess. It's where I can read things on my own schedule without having to worry about losing them or not being able to find them later.
 
For me the most important feature is that GReader maintains the status (read/unread) of every post on their servers and therefore everything is synced between all my clients (phone, tablet,laptops etc).

I can browse through huge amount of posts very fast and I can in no time  decide if I want to read the post immediately or later. Greader probably thinks that I'm reading thousands of posts every day when in reality I only browse through them and really read only 1% of them.

 It's the most powerful news and information aggregator I've ever seen.
 
Among the many previous reasons, I'm not sure what else to mention.  I liked the clean, simple interface, the keyboard shortcuts, the maintenance of read status, the ability to save things for later using the Star function, the ability to share feeds as public as well as share directly to Google+, auto-marking items as read when scrolling through with the view where you have the headline and a small snippet of the article, being able to organize feeds, etc.

A couple features that I have not seen mentioned yet would be the statistics kept that I can view to see when I'm most\least productive, which days items are posted\read, etc.  Also, the ability to easily see at a glance my most read feeds and the feeds least often updated (I would curate my subscriptions using this).  I also really enjoyed using the "Magic" filter where I could have Reader try to guess what posts would be most interesting to me.

Some things that I would have liked to see were a dark theme option built-in, auto-tagging posts, the ability to nest folders (kind of available by putting a feed in multiple folders; you could put all Linux feeds in the Linux folder and the Computing folder and have the read status update for both no matter which folder you were viewing), and an easier way to sort saved\starred items.  Some of these are needed here in Google+ (especially search and read status).

I also really enjoyed the email-like aspect of it in comparison to the various social media websites such as Google+ and Facebook that just do a pseudo-most-recent\most-relevant sorting with no way to tell what has been read before.
 
Also, the ability to sync easily to my mobile device. I like that when I'm out for the day and have time to kill, I can catch up with the stuff in Reader.
 
First. Points for humor and for asking these questions, +Yonatan Zunger

A few small things: 
* Starring. Yep.
* The satisfaction of clearing posts by marking them "read" (past tense).
* It's based on an open standard that any one can feed from anywhere without having to have accounts on particular networks.
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Reader provides access to content that can't be accessed easily from within Google+. 
Google+ is great for ephemeral, short-form posts, links to other content and photos but it doesn't really support reading long-form content or discovering content on the open web that hasn't yet been linked to by someone in my circles. 
 
Simplicity and efficiency. In a feed reader I want the focus to be on the words, I don't want visual flair, emphasis on images or a "magazine-like" layout.

Reader lets me see the headlines, read the articles that interest me, mark the rest as read and I'm done. And it does it across whichever device I happen to pick up. Bliss. 
 
tl,dnr all the comments but the highlights were covered in the first half before your post at 14: 38 ish I think. The compactness combined with user preference control of the UI and the ability to have virtually any source that has a url in the feed are my highlights. If Google News could adopt the single line list option and allow the user to choose any source rather than from a relatively short list it would go far to satisfy the itch. I do like GN's ability to search text string user defined topics though. Perhaps a mashup?
 
I think most of my reasons for loving Google Reader have already been covered, but just to fill the gaps:

I find Reader an excellent tool for managing a really high information flow without feeling overwhelmed. It offers a combination of features that allow me to quickly pick out items that look of interest, skip the rest, and feel confident that I haven't missed anything. Some of the  features most useful to me include:

* A collapsible list view, allowing the user to rapidly browse a long list of article titles.

* Tracking read/unread status.

* The ability to organize feeds into folders -- helps with managing a large body of feeds on different subjects.

* Not machine-specific: can read from any web-accessible device and maintain state.

This feature set allows me to open reader, look into a feed that I haven't read in a while, scan through it (or use search) to find an item of interest, mark everything else as read, and move on -- thereby handling a feed with hundreds of unread items in only a minute or two. That's not something I can do easily, or really at all, on Facebook or G+.

Having this integrated with Google is a strong plus for me. I wish that the sharing with G+ were better integrated (I know you've heard that before) and that I could see recommendations based on what my friends were reading, see G+ shares that took me back to a Reader feed of the source, etc. Most of the features of a good RSS reader can be implemented elsewhere, but those can't.
 
Most of it already covered above but:

- Ownership of organization of items
- Trends - used to pare down things I look at when I find high volume and low engagement
- Mark as read
- The sense of reading a book with a table of contents rather than being assaulted with random pages from magazines
- Ability to scan at a high level and by subject
 
So one of the nicest things I found about Reader is that I could subscribe to things that, it turns out, I didn't actually want to read, or only wanted to read when I'm in the mood. E.g. I can go to reader and clear through "slacktivist", "pandagon", and "pharyngula", then see that "Tiger Beatdown" has put up a new post and leave it for later when I have a block of time to devote to it. (Because "Tiger Beatdown" likes to put the long in "long form")

Meanwhile, "Daily Kos" and "Hullabaloo" just sit there accumulating unreads, and I'll go and look at them if I'm bored or want that particular flavor. But if not, not, and who cares? Sure, it means I found my "All Items" feed mostly useless, but I was using Reader for years before I even discovered that view.

Now, one might say that this could be done with circles and I could have one I checked all the time, one for long-form stuff when I had a big block of time, and one for when I'm bored. But I don't want to organize my feeds - I'm describing how I wound up using them, but I had no idea when I first added a feed how frequently I'd end up reading it, and I hate being forced into a "read it now or forever have it be gone" linear feed. (No busy "planet" feeds; if I want that, I'll subscribe to the individual blogs) Reader allowed me to organize my feeds, I suppose, but it didn't force that on me. I could add a new feed and ignore it. The new feed could be a post-a-minute feed without affecting at all how I read everything else.

In a way, you could say that some of the difference between Reader and Google+ is like the difference between magazines and the daily paper (pretend this is 25 years ago when those terms made sense). The daily paper is supposed to be topical and primarily of immediate interest, or no interest. If I miss reading the daily paper one day, I don't expect to ever go back and read back issues unless I'm pointed to a specific article. With magazines though, I don't expect them to be as highly topical and I expect them to end up in places where I'll pick them up when I've got some spare minutes, I'll look through them, then possibly store and keep them. Many people stored and kept monthly magazines; normal, healthy people didn't do so with daily papers.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go re-read a few posts in "Good Math, Bad Math" because the author's finally posted the last in his series of posts walking through Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem, and I want to review the previous posts in the series before tackling this latest one.
 
I particularly liked the integration of Reader across every screen - my desktop, my phone, and my tablet. It's actually what brought me to Reader over things such as Pulse or Flipboard. In addition, Reader allowed me to easily organize my feeds into categories and star articles I wanted to read later (on the go). The extra support through Chrome extensions made it even better (one-stop shop for reading an entire article or watching a video). 
 
Google Reader helped me keep up with a variety of sites, preventing me from having to visit each and every one of them to constantly check for updates.

Some sites that interest me update with crazy frequency, and others extremely infrequently. 

Being able to check where updates were at-a-glance was an extremely nice feature.

With that said, any RSS feed aggregator would have done the trick so for me the secret sauce was in Google's ability to allow me to check-off (i.e. mark as read) entries from my Android phone, tablet or PC

That "syncing" was a huge time-saver because it prevented me from having to recheck the same entries over and over again.
 
It looks like most/all of my key points have already been mentioned and appropriately +1d The key points for me though are the cross platform support and seamless read/unread sychronization.  I skim headlines in reader on my phone, tablet, chrome browser, and Internet explorer (work computer) and jumping btween them I can still track all of my feeds and read interesting stuff in detail or just skim headlines and mark read.
 
Case in point, here is the notification I just got on this post: New comments Cindy Brown, Alexander Becker, David C. Frier, and 3 others and there is no way to just see those new comments.

These notifications may work OK for most posts that only have a few comments, but for anything that engages large numbers of people it is maddening.
 
- read/unread state management. This seems to be far more rare than it should be in web fora and social networks. (LiveJournal has a hack that puts "nc=XX" in the per-post links so you can tell from your browser's link colors if the post has new comments since you last read it...and that's better than most.)
- syncing, even though the API was unsupported and undocumented. This meant I could use the web UI, Reeder, or any other client and have the same read/unread state. Huge win. (This is the sort of thing that had me ftp-ing around .newsrc files back in the day.)
- crisp clean efficient UI in the web version. Like Neal Stephenson's old essay "In the Beginning was the Command Line" -- I could use that with minimal typing and little to no mouse work, like a good classic newsreader (trn or Gnus).

(Yes, I'm saying that Reader was the closest thing I had to the good days of USENET. This is a feature.)
 
This is a quite long thread, so I'm going to keep my comment short:
1) Read/Unread status. It allowed me to comprehensively follow whatever source of information and keep something flagged as unread if I thought it deserved more attention.
2) Synchronisation, I can mark chaff posts as read idly on my phone; and when I log into reader in a browser can devote the due time and attention to them.
 
Absolutely useful is the way a Google Alert query can be bound to Google Reader.
And just another simple thing is that Google Reader is the only cross platform RSS feed collector offered by Google. That's it.
 
Aside from Gmail, and G+ my "core" Google product is Blogger. I log in every day to either moderate comments or check my stats. When Blogger introduced the "Reading List" to the dashboard I stopped visiting Reader because it gave me everything I need from Reader without all the stuff I didn't use (starring and sharing). It is just the latest posts from the Blogger blogs I follow and other RSS feeds I have added. I can follow publicly, or privately. I read what I want and skip what when I want right in my dashboard.

Recently, I noticed that my G+ avatar was being displayed in the "Follower" gadgets of blogs I follow through the "Reading List" even though I have elected not to merge my G+ and Blogger accounts. Since the "Reading List" is just a bare bones version of Reader, I figured you all were about to merge G+ and Reader and give us all one convenient location to check out our feeds and share. So, Reader's death is really perplexing.

Why not just add Reader to a G+ tab? Wouldn't that increase usage and sharing, here? A simple tab on G+ like Blogger's "Reading List" where nothing but the latest posts from sources I follow can be read would increase my G+ participating and make sharing easier. 

Thanks for being open to feedback. 
 
1. Perfect syncing across all my devices and computer.
2. Keyboard shortcuts which allow you to quickly navigate through thousands of entries a day, and marking those you wish to read later.
3. Minimal use of graphics and images keeps the screen information dense, at the same time keeping preview and article load time to a minimum.
4. Adding a feed was dirt simple. Most times you could give it a URL and it would figure it out for you.
5. Subscription management was great and included almost 100% customization from renaming a feed to creating and naming folders to categorize your feeds.
6. The ability to search feeds was great for recalling an article that came up in conversation but you didn't star earlier.

And these are just the items I can think of immediately. It was almost a perfect product.
 
1. Very efficient layout - I'm seeing hundreds of articles every day, I just want to skim through headlines as quickly as possible to find one or two articles that I care about. On an Android tablet in particular, I can see and dismiss dozens of articles in seconds. Nothing, not feedly, not Currents, comes close to it.

2. Perfect web/Android sync.

3. Takes any RSS feed.

4. Well-established. Many websites have a "Subscribe via Google Reader" button for a simple one-click add.

5. Hierarchical structuring of my feeds. I have a "News" folder with a bunch of news outlets, and I can go through them all in one go. In the order (chronological, etc) that I choose.
 
I use RSS to self-social stuff I like. And most readers have a simple enough interface (collapsible) to filter quickly.  Like I can fit 40 articles on a page, not 4.  That's the main thing.  They have their own homes and aren't feeding to FB or G+ also, many times, so I can't just subscribe there.  

(I didn't read anything before this comment, just throwing my comment in and running again.)
 
Reader gathers together into a single UI multiple sources of news I like to read.  The biggest bonus was for places which only infrequently post (such as certain blogs, or comic strips) it would mix in the latest results with the news sources I review regularly.

I would personally be just as happy if there was a way to get an xkcd, techcrunch, random blog, etc. feed inserted into my Google+ stream.
 
Reader enables (present tense - I'm not giving up hope yet!) me to have a very efficient workflow. It allows me to collect news from all my important news sources and present them just as headlines - easy to skim over. Then I mark down everything that sounds interesting (either with a star or by sending it to Pocket), marking everything else read. I can then easily read the interesting stuff at my leisure (especially when using Pocket).

And a big Plus is: Google Reader allows me to keep a consistent state across all my devices - my workplace, my home desktop, my laptop, my Nexus 7, my Nexus 4... something that no social media app (I'm looking at you, Twitter!) has achieved yet.
 
What I loved about Google Reader:

1. All of my subscriptions to blogs, webcomics, and other periodicals could be managed in one place.
2. I could access the content from that set of subscriptions in multiple ways: web browser, Flipboard, etc.
3. I could easily share links to items on Google+ and elsewhere.
4. Subscribing to most blogs was as easy as clicking on the RSS subscribe link, selecting Google, then add to Google Reader.
5. A decent reading interface, though I didn't often use the web interface.
6. Recommendations based on what else I subscribed to.

There were other things that I liked, but those were the most important.

Want to make me moderately happy?
1. Let me add RSS feeds to my Google+ circles
2. Intercept the http://www.google.com/ig/add?feedurl= link that feedburner and other places still link to (even though igoogle is going away in November.) and let me add feeds to Google+ that way.
3. Track read and unread comments in G+.
4. Deal with cross-device synchronization in G+ better.
 
what made Google Reader useful to me?
1. Much like the Plus Minus app which died - I like the ability to skim via posts collapsed to one line. To read the full text in a quick vanilla version. I currently have a backlog of over 100 posts - which I will skim or read via G Reader. 
2. I have my Reader arranged in useful folders, not one unbroken wall of posts.
3. The option to keep a post unread to come back to. 

Is there any hope of resurrecting the Plus minus app? Or a new way to collapse G+ posts to one line once we've read them? Pretty please.  
 
For me it's two things:
1) high information density: when I open reader.google.com on PC, I see 18-20 headlines on a single screen. E.g., in Google+ I see between 2 and 3 headlines.

2) reasonably simple android client also with high information density: about 10 headlines on a screen (N4) vs. 2 in Google+.

Google+ layout works great for social sharing of images. At the moment it doesn't work that great for sharing articles.

P.S. And of course sync of feeds/read state across platforms.
 
I only recently started using Reader. I'd planned on slowly expanding my reader list, but G+ kinda put the damper on that. Since I only have 1 feed I follow, I'll likely adapt by just keeping a tab open to that particular blog's main page.

I'd love to see RSS functionality built into Google Plus... If I could just "Circle" a feed, and keep up with it that way, without having to have a separate tab, that would be great.
 
Reader is great on my Android phone. Reader downloads article summaries very fast even when I'm on 3G. It's also really easy to subscribe and organize news feeds.
 
I love Google Reader because:
- It is easy to subscribe to RSS feeds (I used the bookmarklet), and to manage them in a single place.
- I am able to send items to Instapaper for later reading or to Springpad if I wanted to save them.
- Sharing with social media is fairly painless.
- It has a clean, simple interface that allows me to look at items how I want (all together, or by folder).

What I would love to see is some sort of RSS reader tab with the ability to save items easily to sites like Instapaper, Springpad, and Evernote built into G+. 
 
It learned which feeds I read the most and suggested them on the first page. This was helpful because it was not mandatory.

When I sorted into categories, I could click on a category and see all articles from that category in recent order.

I could also then drill down into a specific feed and skim through the titles, and mark all read when I was done.

Keyboard shortcuts made skimming through a feed fast. Very fast.

It kept track of what was read and unread across multiple devices, so that I could be 'caught up' on something I cared about on a given day, and still be confident that I wouldn't miss anything if I ignored a feed for a week or two and then came back later. If all I had with me was my phone, I wouldn't waste time reading previously read articles again.

The two-panel design lets you see context of where you're at and how much is left. The 'endless scrolling down' design of Facebook and G+ doesn't make it easy to tell when you're caught up. You have to recognize that maybe you've seen some of that before to know when to stop.
 
Google Reader is extremely simple and just works - all the time. There's no clutter or fancy magazine/card views (read: unnecessary stuff with no use that just slows down the consumption of content or distracts from it).

Most of this is certainly also offered by other RSS readers... in the browser.

The problem is not getting an alternative RSS reader for the browser but rather getting one for my phone. The Google Reader Android app is so far better than anything else I've ever heard of or tried (and I've tried a lot...A LOT). It is snappier and faster than any other app and it provides content consumption at a speed that one can only get addicted to.

Today I've fought to get myself use to the Freedly app. I've used it all day, configured every aspect so that it would be perfect for me. And by the end of today I actually thought to myself: "Perhaps it is not so bad after all."
Then I just for a few seconds opened the Google Reader app and like that all my acceptance of Freedly was completely gone. A few seconds of ultra fast, no delay content consumption and I knew that Freedly had worlds to travel to be able to show me content as snappily as Google Reader.

I'm not entirely sure how the Google Reader app is as fast as it is, even on not so great connections. It just works and lets me consume my daily 300-1500 content pieces (images, text posts, articles, comics, photo sets, blog posts, etc.) in an hour or two. This is something I never thought possible - but is with the Google Reader Android app.
 
Bundles of feeds to read the all at once about the topics I care.
Fast interface - a lot like GMail
Very easy to share and never loose a post from the feeds.
And it once save my life, cause I could extract lots of postings from blogs, that I created and that got lost. Cause all posts are kept in GReaders database if at least someone has subscribed a feed.
 
Syncing across platforms.

It's organized by site rather than, at least so far with thunderbird, newest first. So I can pick what i want to read. Plus it's easy to share if i want to.

Unlike Social Streams (twitter, Google+, etc) I don't have to sift thorugh Everyone. As in the above point pick the site i want to focus on and browse.

Something it has over Thunderbird. I could drop a random forum thread in or blog and it'd do finding the feed on it's own instead of telling me 'nope not a valid feed.'

What I DIDN'T like was the latest revisions of the 'you might like' searcch thing. Gave me a lot of what apparently was sponsored material (IGN and all.)

It felt like unless I used a userstyle the whole page felt overly cluttered and could have gone through slimming and trimming to get memory useage down for those of us on older/less powerful machines.)

Here's hoping whatever you're polling these answers for will be able to make use of 'em (integrating into google Plus would be nice but ONLY if you have a seperate view/tab for feeds. Like you have for communities and Games now. That way news items aren't mixed up in with your contact/social. And extend 'circles' to these news items so you can have a news circle, corporate, work, tech, webcomics, etc.)
 
Easy to subscribe to things even if they didn't provide a way themselves

Easy to scroll through until something piques my interest, expand, share, all in one place

All the data and statistics kept on my usage.
 
separate tab on G+ for blog feeds?
WITH the Plus Minus collapse the post to one line and folders.
Might be a solution.
 
(NB that I'm more interested in hearing about the things which were particularly useful to you about Reader in this thread than about particular solutions. I can brainstorm solutions all day, but you're the only ones who can tell me what you like!)
 
Integration.  Synchronization.  High signal to noise ratio. 
I can log into Google in the morning and scroll through all my various content in a few clicks.  Video subscriptions, social traffic on Google+, podcasts, comics, articles, news.  It's all there in one log-in. 
I even still use Listen on my phones to play subscribed podcasts.  It doesn't synch read/listened status so well any more so that gives me a sad but it is one-click integration with Reader.  I subscribe to a podcast's RSS syndication and change the feed settings to add it to the Listen Subscriptions folder and bada-bing bada-boom I've got a new podcast on my phone.
Edit: I just set up Currents on my phone which pulls my article type of Reader subscriptions.  This is they way things are supposed to work.
Blogs I follow would be the first feature I see migrating, since a Blogger account automatically has a Google+ account.  But content I subscribe to from outside the Google universe isn't so easily integrated.  I wouldn't mind if Reader was wholly merged into Google+ but it seems that would require the content producers to maintain a G+ social network account, where as currently they just copy-pasta an RSS syndication onto their web page. But now that runs into the low signal-to-noise of a social network.  I'd have to adjust my circle management to focus on those content I really like to be kept abreast of. 
 
I actually like Google Alerts when it is maintained and working properly. Google Alerts was once lightning fast and pulled articles from sources that were rather obscure, but with good integrity, as well as results from the more popular sources. I especially appreciate that I can use logical operators and filter results. Sadly, many Alert results pour in far too slowly these days (sometimes a day or two late).

I only returned to Reader when Alerts appeared to be ignored by Google. If Alerts were maintained properly, I wouldn't really care if Reader took a dive.
 
- Ability to star items.  For myself only and not shared with anybody. 
- Mark stuff as read, or keep stuff as unread. Again, for myself only.
- Search over my items.
- No pretence knowing how to order uncomparable feeds/streams.
- Complete feeds instead of some selected subset.
 
What was useful was the flexibility. From skim the title and mark as read, all the way across the spectrum to click thru and read the bells and whistles original. The choices!
 
Best thing is you can have it up at work and it looks business like. When browsing at work you do not want to go to flashy sites. (I admit it...I scan through my reader all day whenever I'm on hold for a call which is often)
 
May I ask +Yonatan Zunger to keep checking the comments to this post in the following days?

I'm trying to distill what I think is unique and useful of Reader. But, although I think I can provide some feedback, not being a UX professional it will take me some time to put this in words. I don't have anything to offer right now, I have to reverse engineer why I love Reader.

Thanks for the opportunity.
 
Google Reader ported to Beyond Pod makes for very relaxing and informative lunch breaks. 
 
I'm going to echo a lot of other people, but here's my reasons, if anyone from Google is still reading this far.

The biggest reason for me? The Android widget gave me an email-like list view, instead of the flashy single-post widgets of your own Google+ or the Reader replacement I am trying out, Feedly. With a list, I know there's 4 unread articles sitting there, while with Google+'s widget I have no idea how many new posts might be lurking underneath the latest one.

Other than that... it "just worked." When I expanded an article to read it, it marked it read for me, but gave me a quick button to keep it unread. It was also dumb simple to manage feeds - adding, removing, marking all read - it was a piece of cake whether on Android or on the web.

Feedly is pretty and all... but I've taken a step backwards in functionality and convenience in return for oversize pictures. And my Android's home screen is slowly becoming less and less useful for keeping me up to date.
 
As with many others the loss of Google Reader will be a huge loss. I've looked at many other RSS readers and have found them to come up short for me. Goole Reader stands out for me in the following ways...

» Ability to see ANY feed. Not just enhanced RSS feeds or some approved feeds from limited sources. 

» Ability to sort those feeds and not just have them in one big cluster... I could even get/make feeds from twitter, picasa, and flicker from users/friends I want to follow and put them all in one place. This also avoided incessant email or other notifications.

» I can then read the sorted groups in order of priority and leave things unread and easily come back to them later.

» Most important to me was the ability to star articles and search those articles later when I wanted to find them or related topics.

» Ability to easily share interesting articles. This could be Google Plus but also meant email for those that didn't use Google Plus as their social network. This is equally as important as the search for me. It is "social" in this aspect, but it really isn't traditional. The information comes from more stable streams, it comes in higher density that is easier to scan and filter, and it doesn't contain comments that I don't need/care to see.

Google Plus or other social sites are for interaction and dealing with individuals for me. The RSS reader was for scanning large quantities of news and information from sources I wanted to follow but not necessarily interact. I don't wish to add those kinds of feeds to Google Plus as it then depersonalizes that form of communication. If I scan my RSS feed though and select articles that interest me (and my friends) and add to a social site with commentary that is still personal to me though and has value. In fact with out the RSS reader, I suspect my feed will decrease in posts.

» I liked that Reader was for text. I like a pretty face, don't get me wrong, but Google Plus sacrifices information for aesthetics. 

» The final thing I will mention is portability. I liked I could take the tablet, the phone (to a lesser extent) or any PC anywhere and keep up with all the feeds I want to scan. And it saves time of going to individual sites all over the place and dealing with a zillion navigation systems. Reader just let me get more done.

Hope this helps. 
Goes back to cursing in Yiddish about Reader being closed down. (Fortunately Google Translate still works!) 
 
And it's what I want to see the way I want to see it, not some pile of What's Hot and Trending.  I know I've caught everything on a Reader subscription but Google+ seems almost designed against that.  Once it scrolls off the bottom it's gone for good and if you didn't catch it, well too bad. 
 
BTW people ask when is a good time to post on G+. I use G Reader to tell me when the blogs I read choose to publish, which day, what time of day.
I can edit out inactive blogs by date last published. 
 
+Diana Studer Do you mean that you use Reader to see the timestamps of other people's blog publication, or something else?
 
For me, it boiled down to Cloud Sync of read state, plus universal availability of good native clients for mobile. On desktop, the web app was as good or better than local apps, but the fact that I had a good synced reading experience in various forms across, at various times:

1) several Macs (web app)
2) a PC (web app)
3) an iPad (Reedr - iPad)
4) an iPod touch (Reedr - iPhone)
5) my Nexus7 (built-in)
6) my Winphone (NextGen reader)

meant that I could easily keep up with a large volume of data without ever having to ask "Did I already read or discard this?"
 
I like that Reader is always there listening for me, collecting what I want to read, and then it's all waiting in an incredibly easy-to-consume format when I have time to read it. It doesn't pull in content I know I won't care about, and it doesn't miss things that I do care about.

Social is useful, but it's complementary, not a replacement. Yes, I may be interested in what other people want me to see, but what I want to see deserves a privileged position.

I can read in any order I want: backwards or forwards at any level in the hierarchy (a single subscription, a folder/tag, or everything). Because I can mark what I've read, it's easy to jump around and read different things whenever I want, depending on what I feel like reading or what I have time for, and not worry about missing anything.

Best of all: not only is the stuff I want to read waiting for me on the Web, it's also on my phone and my tablet. Like, actually there: the full content, even all the images if I want. So I can do my reading on a plane or in a subway. Without any effort, the things I want to read are right there. And when I reconnect, all of the read markers are synchronized perfectly. Stars, too. Did I forget to mention stars? They're awesome.

And here's the part where I get sad. Possibly the best thing about Reader is the ecosystem that's grown around it, seemingly in spite of Google's best efforts. There are countless awesome applications on all the platforms I care about that work with the (non-public) Reader API. I've tried dozens of them, and finally settled on the ones that are perfect for me (and they're different on different devices). It's a kind of magical thing that has happened with this API. I fear that, whatever you build to replace Reader, the chances are it won't happen again.
 
I cannot imagine using G+ in lieu of an organized way of getting information.  G+ is a place to share, comment, elaborate, selectively play with information.  It'll never be concise or organized enough to really get deep into the spectrum of information put out by various sources.  It becomes a place to use/play/interact with the information.  Thus a good reader or aggregator of feeds is the root source from which we can draw from to do the stuff we do on G+.  One really doesn't substitute for the other (at least in the way I use both.  Others' experience in how they use these tools may differ.)  Perhaps it's because I think like a researcher.  Reader is my research tool.  G+ is where I play with what I've learned.  Beautifully complementary.
 
I was never a heavy user of Reader, but for occasional use what I did like was the aggregation of feeds and the ability to organize them. Seeing new items at a glance and removing 'read' items was also great. Simplicity of navigation through the list (j / k / space) deserves kudos as well.
Noel Yap
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+Yonatan Zunger , from someone else in an internal discussion:

"""
The problem I have with most of the alternatives is that the are overly eye-candy and image-oriented, often a big grid of magazine covers, rather than a simple list/tree of things by feed and title that I know I'm going to read, because I explicitly subscribed to them for that purpose. Too many - Flipboard, Currents, etc - focus too much on the content that they want you to have, rather than the content that you want to have (in my opinion). Or they don't delete/mark-read articles as you read them, so you just keep seeing the same content - if there's nothing new, I want an empty list, not the stuff I already read.
"""
 
For me it's the simple, clean interface. RSS itself is as wide and varied as the web, so the sources didn't really matter. I could control my newsfeed, see only the unread items, and share directly from the interface.
 
+Yonatan Zunger 
I actually migrated from Google reader to Google+ as my main news stream when I discovered the "Whats hot" feature. The first thing I desitred when I started using G+ more was that I could include RSS feeds in my stream and eliminate needing Reader entirely.

One feature from Reader that I wanted in G+ back then (and still now) was the data analytics offered about a stream. To me having data on the frequency of a feed's/user's posts would be very useful in grooming my circles.

If you have not read this post yet you should, there is likely lots of great comments to mine there as well:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/113117251731252114390/posts/JXJ7DTSwVGi

I agree with all that is said.
 
Clean, uncluttered, well organized view of RSS feeds, and most notably and importantly, synchronization across devices, so I can check my feeds on my phone, home computer, work computer.
 
Clean interface was the biggest reason for me. Easy to use, nice mobile site, also benefits.
 
The main features I liked about Reader were:
- Ability to view text, image and (nice to have) video content inline
- Ability to flag, star, or otherwise visually mark individual articles
- Ability to categorize, tag or otherwise organize feeds into groupings
- Ability to control read/unread state.  
- Ability to configure my UI to have a list view (versus a magazine or image/only view).  
- Nice to have: Ability to share individual articles to social networks (I mainly shared to G+), adding my comments to them before sharing.

My use case for Reader is as a one-stop-shop which aggregates the blog updates I want to see from all over the web, allowing me to categorize feeds by topic, as well as visually track the read/unread state of items and flag items of interest and share them with my social networks.
 
The ability to follow articles produced from anywhere (provided they also make an RSS feed, which most do).
 
In no special order: List view allows me to see all new posts at a glance. Easy grouping into categories created by me. Sync across all my devices. Minimalist UI maximizes reading/skimming speed. Can leave for a week (eg. vacation) and come back to still quickly find the most interesting items, rather than having them disappear off the bottom as in G+ or Twitter. Easy sharing through different channels. Starring of noteworthy items. Just been trying feedly, but it has too much bling and does not give me a summary list view.
 
+Yonatan Zunger First, good idea. Thanks for this thread. Second, to answer: It gives a nice, dense interface I can use to scan large amounts of information quickly. Pretty much all other programs have "design" and, even worse, try to force pictures down my throat. With 800+ headlines at least per day, I don't have time for that. If I want a picture, I'll click on the headline, thank you very much. 

Google+, for a negative interface example, has way too much whitespace and all kinds of buttons and other stuff on both sides of the main text field I simply don't need all the time and should be hidden in a menu. Google Readers does -- well, did -- this better. 
 
I enjoyed Google Reader simply for the interface. I like the fact that its not all flashy pictures until you decide to open an article. I'm not a "power user" but I have about 20 or so sources I follow and its great to quickly view the headings to find interesting articles. Readers like Feedly look great, but for speed, I've always enjoyed Google Reader.

 
+Michael Rainey Why do you think it had such a high signal-to-noise ratio for you? Does it have a higher SNR than other sources of data?
 
Honestly, the UI in Google Reader wasn't that great. I mean, the redesign made it look prettier, but it still isn't spectacular. I used to use a Firefox Add-On called Brief which I like more, but it was locked into Firefox. When I decided to switch full time to Chrome, I needed a new reader and decided for one in the cloud.

Moving my feeds could be annoying, but if I find something better I won't mind much.
 
For me Google Reader has a superior menu system to Google Plus for following text focused content. 

Most importantly Google Reader has a rapid and easy transition from read in stream to read in new tab. Currently Google Plus all but refuses to allow you to tab out an article while retaining your place in the stream. This makes reading text-heavy articles painful. 

With Google reader I can rapidly drill down through hundreds of headlines to focus on particular content I want to read. This is a much harder process on G+

For a reader focused on content rather than social connection I think Google Reader is superior. I suspect that you might find heavy original content creators make heavy use of Google Reader to keep abreast of new developments. 
 
I have read none of the above comments so I apologise if I repeat things already mentioned. This is about the android app mostly as I'm vary rarely at a desktop.

For me what I find useful is the fact I can group RSS feeds. My best example is my "Google" group which is a collection of all the official google blogs.

I can visit that group knowing all I will be reading is Official Google news/updates, with nothing off topic.

The articles are then listed showing only the titles so I can skim quickly through the list and only read what captivates me. No endless scrolling through articles to find things. I can then click a Title to read the full article without visiting the website it originated. It's quick and cuts out all the rubbish. The fact images are included is a bonus.

Having the RSS feeds saved for offline viewing is also great. It allows me to catch up on things even when I have no signal.

The list shows newest first so I am always kept up to date, and as I read articles they are removed from the list so I only see new things to read. Im not scrolling through old articles just to find something new and interesting.

When I do find something really interesting, it's so easy to share the original article on for discussions with other enthusiasts.

So what's not to love about greader. It's simple and quick to browse.
 
Simplicity was a big part of what made me like Google Reader. It didn't try and mimic some other type of medium like magazines or newpapers, it simply presented you with a list of updates for you to scroll through. Even the Android app was a very simple and subdued listing, unlike many comparable products which aim for a much more flashy and busy interface.
AJ Kohn
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The Reader interface was pragmatic and efficient so it appealed to those, like me, who are information consumers. 

At the heart of it all are two main points:

Time-Shifted Consumption and Deliverability

It's never been about having real-time access to information. It's about time-shifting the consumption and knowing that I will see that content at some point in time if I desire.

Feeds are to Reader as Season Passes are to TiVo. (As an aside, the latter is the model that should have been marketed to users.)

Using other methods such as G+ or Twitter or Facebook or any other mechanism that tries to find, shape and filter the information based on interest etc. are usually not comprehensive and rarely allow me the comfort of knowing I can rely on reviewing whether or not I value that content. 

In short, I might not see it fly by in my stream and curation services might remove content that I may enjoy. 

More thoughts can be found here: http://bit.ly/YbtCKw
 
Reader was always my second stop on the web after checking email. I consume almost all of my content through Reader. Most of the content I share publicly on G+ I find through reader.

For me, the key feature is that I never have to worry about missing a new post on an infrequently-updated website that I really care about, which is a functionality I'm not really sure how to replace without RSS. Am I supposed to subscribe to a website's Facebook/G+ page instead and hope that I get lucky and see the update? Keep a bookmarks list and go through it occasionally?

Another thing that I like about Reader is that it's private. I start following a site, and it isn't broadcasted to the world. I like something, I can star it for future reference without it being broadcast to the public where it can affect my relationships or career opportunities--I wouldn't publicly like or follow a well-written blog on atheism on Facebook to avoid unpleasant interactions with people who feel very strongly about religion. 
 
Apps. Getting the news I wanted on my DROID without having to subscribe to a half-dozen corporate news apps and being able to catch up on the world in boring parts of meetings, etc.
 
I use it (and love it) for a variety of reasons:
a) It provides a firehose of content directly from the source, unfiltered by any social or ranking aspects. It's a mainline feed directly into content I'm interested in, and doesn't try to do anything for me.
b) It explicitly keeps track of what I've seen and what I haven't, so I can leave it for any period of time and pick up exactly where I left off.
c) It provides a very lightweight way for me to save something for later (starring it). Combined with tags, I can organize me reader items in the same fashion as my gmail. Having consistent organization across different kinds of media (email, articles) provided by the same organization (google) makes for a good user experience.
d) It gets keyboard shortcuts right. There are a lot of them, and they do reasonable things. And they are (often) consistent with gmail shortcuts. Competing RSS services haven't caught up here yet.
e) It provides a unified backend for all the other RSS readers to talk to. I personally didn't like the UI of the official Reader android app on my tablet. But the Reader API was so ubiquitous, I had a dozen other apps to choose from, all of which would talk to the exact same set of feeds I'd subscribed to on my desktop. Personally, I trust google with my data. I'd much rather have all my data -- feeds, email, docs, etc -- in one place, than have to sign into different services for each of them. Taking away the storage spot for all my news and forcing me to fragment my online identity in this way is a big inconvenience for me.
 
I liked Google Reader simply because it would alert me when new articles were posted (and have a 'widget' for this in Android) in the sites/blogs, and because I can set them as read/unread.

Being able to create folders to organize the feed was nice, but not soooo important.

Tip tip: If Currents had notifications and would let me set articles as read/unread I would be satisfied already!

Thanks for hearing, Yonatan! :)
 
Very concretely, both about Reader mobile and web. It is very useful in:

1- subscription organization: a very intelligible way to get updates for feeds, organized in folders.
2- displaying density controls to visualize feeds.
3- integration with the Google account

Overall, simple, not cluttered instrument to collect and to easily read different information sources. 
  
 
+Yonatan Zunger good luck ploughing your way throw all these comments. I hesitate to add my 2c but will do so has the cause is important!

I had always assumed that Reader would be rolled into G+ to make something super-awesome, so very surprised by this announcement. I like Reader because:

*Blogs are interesting. Reader lets me read them all in one place, as it is difficult to cycle through individual sites.

*The interface allows me to see what is read/unread

*I can quickly skim through posts and decide which ones to read in detail

*It is with Google, where I want to be, but pulls in content from outside the Google ecosystem

*I can group related blog topics into folders.

*Syncs nicely with Android, I get everything on my phone to read even when I don't have an internet connection.

Not specific to Reader, but regarding RSS (even Twitter to some extent), the multi-feed publish/subscribe model allows people to create separate feeds that each represent a facet of their personality, something they want to say. While the single-output model of G+ or Facebook has some advantages, e.g. seeing the 'whole person', the trade off is that you can't really specialise or segment content.

If G+ could incorporate the above, and the publishing-side features to match, I think more people would be drawn into it.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Maybe an analogy will help. Go find some professional trader who uses, say, a Reuters data terminal. Note that his screens are full, from top to bottom, with writing and graphs -- no whitespace anywhere, no flashy graphics, no pictures, just lots of text and lines.

Now suggest to him he might want a different interface, one with pretty little colored icons, whitespace included by some Zen-inspired design formula, and pictures that span half of the screen. Watch him laugh hysterically, and listen to what he has to say when he can finally breathe again: He doesn't have time for that sort of crap and no screen space to waste. 

You might also want to re-read (I hope) the Cryptonomicon. There is a passage in there where one of the characters talks about "serious" and "silly" diving books -- the difference being no flashy graphics and pictures of divers in the real books. 
 
I forget one thing - knowledge database - for example I subscribe to vmware rss feed for product updates and fixes. I do not want to read them one after another - it is not for reading, but, for quickly finding information I need. So I use it in order to keep track of vmware problems and knowledge database.
What alternative I have in G+ ? Create circle wit single member - vmware - and digging though its clumsy interface without efficient search ability?
 
Ability to search thru the RSS feeds. e.g. I have subscribed to a couple of deal websites on Greader. I can just search for the product and get all the current deals on it. 
 
The ability to keep track of ~300 websites that update sporadically without the owners having to do anything.
 
Personally, I pretty much just used it as an interface to keep a bunch if different RSS apps in sync.
 
+Yonatan Zunger
Yeah, it does. 
The high signal-to-noise ratio is because it's all signals I've found and chosen to keep up with without other noise creeping in.  Unless I dive into Recommendations but that is based on what i already subscribe to so it's usually able to find more things I want. 
Google+ is very different.  While I'm interested in people I follow or the shared circles I picked up as a topic, there isn't the same sense of wanting to be kept up to date.  I see something someone posted or shared onto Google+ and I think, "Oh, that's interesting, keep scrolling."  On the other hand, subscriptions on Reader get more of a "I'm glad I caught this, I'm going to keep reading."
 
+Michael Rainey Is this because people are posting different kinds of content via RSS than on, say, G+? Because different people are posting? Or something else?

(I'm very interested in this question because people often complain about the low SNR of social networks, and very rarely praise the high SNR of anything. Given that a blog is notionally just another feed of whatever the poster is producing, I'm wondering what improves the SNR of Reader for you: if it's something about the producers, about the way you chose who to read, or something else)
 
I'm also going to add ease of management to the list of features I like about Reader and what any new RSS catcher has to have.  And not just management of itself and the feeds it collects but also tying in management of content and device specific apps.
Podcasts are in Listen Subscriptions, Blogger posts are in Blogs I'm Following, news article type stuff is in Currents Subscriptions.  I now wish there was a good comic viewer that was managed by Reader.  And now I can see things in their individual device apps or get the total management view when I get to a desktop browser. 
 
In no particular order - Cross platform support including using 3rd party apps; simple interface/configuration for efficient scanning of hundreds of pieces of data in minutes; a (mostly) effective and simple controls for marking read/unread that were kept sync'd across multiple sources; limited lag usually.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I can just skip over a headline that looks like noise on Reader. On G+, to go back to a design that I do not like, I'm forced to see most of the entry, not just the headline, and each entry takes up at least five centimeters of screen space. 
 
I'll admit I didn't read through this entire thread, so it might be already mentioned here - but the ability to not just file feeds in folders, but read a folder as a unit (meaning all the feeds within it in order of posting) was really useful. Meant I can read all of my 'tech' feeds mixed in with each other, and not get social justice posts intermingled.
 
+Yonatan Zunger -- there are two aspects to this SNR ratio on the google reader.  Firstly, I can organize things to my liking into topics.  Secondly, most of the items I am organizing are fairly consistent about what they are producing: they are not themselves social entitites.  (In contrast, in G+ you are circling social and therefore by definition unpredictable elements.)  I can sort them all out, and if I do follow social entities, which is of course entirely possible here, I can totally separate them out from the predictable news and topical generators.
 
+Yonatan Zunger RSS feeds represent somewhat "factual" information where the SNR is high.  Social networks represent a much higher percentage of creative or opinion-based information.
 
I'm sorry, I only read a small fraction of the posts up to now, so I might be duplicating. I know of two use cases:
- I use it for (very) low volume blogs where I don't want to miss any posts (contrast this with g+ where I only sample the posts of most people I follow).
- I also like to starring function and use it as a kind of bookmarking system (incidentally I am still missing a page for all 1's I did on G+ posts :) ).
- A friend of mine was complaining that he uses it as a backend for several apps on his iOS devices to store interesting posts. (So this one would be a call for a nice API.. )
 
Hmm. So am I reading this right to say that RSS feeds tend to stay more single-topic-focused than G+ feeds, and that different kinds of people post on them?
 
+Aaron Wood Quite possibly; then of course we get to all the other stuff mentioned: bookmarking, starring, sorting, pickingup where left off, history searching, etc, that are features of Reader...
 
+Yonatan Zunger _some_ blogs may be just a feed of whatever someone is producing, but I think that blogs are more often a feed of a topic specific segment of what that person is producing. This contrasts with the Facebook or G+ approach to social media where the feed is an aggregation of everything someone produces.

And unlike a large Community, with Reader you get to choose which authors you wish to hear from on any given topic. No Evaporative Cooling effect in action. No spam. No need for moderation.

If you haven't done so already, please have a read of +Jeff Sayre's ideas for 'Content Channels' in G+. He has a good vision of how segmentation could work within G+. Reader already has it up and running for the wider blogosphere. Combine these two and you'd have something astoundingly great.
 
I monitor a lot of streams of content. There are approx 200+ feeds in Reader that I review on a daily basis. The text based design helps me scan and process quickly. I can't find another tool that is simple in its design and function like Reader.
 
What made Google Reader so useful to me was the read/unread state kept and maintained in a consistent way across multiple platforms.  With social media platforms like G+, Twitter, and Facebook, so much of what goes by on your feed is fleeting, ephemeral, and difficult to group and track.  With Google Reader, I was able to visit the feeds on my own time, group them into logical categories, rapidly skim through the bits I didn't care to read, mark items as unread so I could come back to them later when I had more time, and in general feel like my feeds were far more organized and controlled.  (I can probably approach some of the grouping with Circles in G+, and I may have to puzzle it out, but the cross-platform read/unread state is something I'll really miss.)
Jim Lai
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I wouldn't mind some of the functionality being brought into G+. As for what I found useful:
- breadth : being able to group dozens of feeds together to enable a quick headline scan of what may be going on in business, science, technology, or a geographical region (which I can then opt to post about in G+ if it's tasty)
- depth : history is seriously lacking in ephemeral approaches to consuming news and content online

An example use case: I could set up feeds for two countries in advance and watch the impact on news whenever a dispute or disagreement between them occurred

Another use: creating Atom/RSS feeds from Google News based on keyword searches and feeding them into the reader.

An example use case: a query for "bird flu", with history enabling me to go back and look at trends

Assuming DIKW applies to G+, and we as users generate I and K, the reader app enables D and I. It enabled me to be a cyborg curator of information long before the term became trendy.
 
I'm not sure I understand your question, +Yonatan Zunger.  The feeds themselves are not elements to be commented upon, there isn't that type of thing going on.  You can, of course, subscribe to an RSS feed from a site that is a feed of the comments at that site (per post or overall, depending on what they give you), but it's read only -- to comment, you'll go back to the original site and comment.  There isn't a layer of discussion on the Reader.
 
One thing I've always wanted out of G+ was a bit of topicality to the circling.  One thing I have to keep in mind here is that someone sees all of what I post.  I have somewhat orthogonal interests, and may post about any subset of them on a given day, but someone may only be interested in my dog photos, but not the cat photos (for instance).  Or more accurately, my car stuff vs. photography stuff.

For my friends, this is a good thing, I like seeing all the topics that they post on.  But for people that I only tangentially know, or are say people that I'm only "following", who are in one of my "follow-only" circles that can't see anything I've ACL'd to "my circles", they may have subjects that I despise.  Perhaps they have great things to say about software, but their political rants always annoy me.  I'd rather just not see the political rants.

RSS feeds seem to not have that problem, since they are more often topic-based.

And many have richer content than G+ provides (multiple in-line images, for instance).
 
I liked the suggested feeds (even though they weren't really related half of the times).
I also liked the preview of the feeds before subscribing.
It was also nice to be able to use a single application between all my different systems and still have things synced.
Being able to categorise in folders was nice too.
Default sort orders weren't always as useful.
I liked starring of posts and having access to that option not only at the top of a post, but also at the bottom.
Could've used YouTube/video integration.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Regarding signal-to-noise ratio I think there's a specific reason why g+ feels like it has lower snr. There are three types of posts: ones yet to be read, ones I've skimmed and found uninteresting, and ones I've read and enjoyed and potentially even starred. The biggest benefit of reader is that it's fantastic at facilitating the sorting from the unread bucket into the latter two buckets (uninteresting and interesting) by letting me stop at a particular spot in that sorting process and resume from the same point without loosing track of the state. G+ on the other hand has no way of maintaining the state. Any time I visit the main stream or a specific circle's stream I'm starting from the latest point in time. State is lost. Thus, I'm more likely to give up earlier since I don't have a goal (being done reading) and I don't know where I stand in relation to that goal. Also, in g+ I cannot easily skim posts. Reading the headlines in reader allows me to process the stream at a much much faster rate. Thus, because state is not maintained and processing speed is slower the amount of gems I find is lower. Finding less gems gives the illusion of lower snr (illusion because really there are the same number of gems per incoming posts if I'm reading the same feed in g+ or reader).
 
+Yonatan Zunger I'm not a huge user of Reader so I'm sorry if I'm missing the point. When you ask about SNR I interpret it in the fact that on Reader, it's easy to keep track of what you read or not. 
Let's say for example's sake that I follow 100 sites that publish 5 posts per day. I get 500 articles in my reader feed everyday. I can order them by tags or category, scan all of them, read the ones I want and then mark them as read to get ready for the next day. 
If I get 100 pages on G+, the algorithm might choose to show me only 3 out of the 5 posts per day, I might be missing out on 200 posts. Also, it's very hard to see which one you already read, and to get a clear view of the ones left to read. Besides that, on social network, a blogger might share 10 posts per day for only 5 articles, 5 other posts would be re-shares or posts about what he ate for lunch. We don't get that noise on Reader. 
That was my 2cts. Great initiative to have made this thread by the way. Don't hesitate to delete irrelevant comments to get more space for the rest. 
 
As a proof of concept of trying to replace Reader functionality with G+, I looked for my three favorite sources of content that I use in Reader. Only one of the three has a G+ presence, and the stream was last updated 9 months ago.
 
+Yonatan Zunger
It is more than that for me. I like having a focus on just reading one perspective and voice, I like that comments are cut off.
I love social too, but reading on a social stream can sometimes be like trying to share one newspaper with everyone on a train car when people also want to discuss what they are reading and have read
And reader was like having my own copy of the paper in my quiet living room
 
I stopped using Reader on my desktop after I got my first tablet.  I still rely on Reader for RSS feed aggregation.  

- Read/unread state across devices
- Roll-up of unread items from multiple sites into a single folder
- High-density of text-only headlines (the newspaper-like layouts of many feedreader apps is a waste of time)
- Ability to star items for reading later or reference
Ambar
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No time to read previous comments, apologies if this is a dup.  The primary thing Reader gives me that NewsBlur (my Reader replacement) does not is the ability to drop feeds in a folder and make a meta-feed out of them.  I use this to drive the blogroll on my genealogy blog, http://genealogy.ambarconsulting.com/
 
One thing I'm noting in all of this is that Reader has a great API.  /ahem....
 
+Cindy Brown pfft, that's probably the reason why it's being dumped. Too hard to force advertising on its users :)
 
Regarding topicality, I do have a few Reader folders that aren't single-topic, and denoted as such. One is of people I know who tend to post about a variety of topics, and one is of people I don't know who tend to post about a variety of topics. If I'd figured out how to get Reader to grab friendlocked posts from LJ, I would have shunted my entire LJ friends list into the former, to my joy and delectation. I had actually started siphoning off the 'people I don't know on LJ but like to read' into the latter bucket.

So while RSS feeds are often topical, that is not an intrinsic quality of them, and it does not mean Reader isn't useful for reading these more diverse streams as well as the focused ones; I used Reader to create basically a LJ friends page for friends who didn't have LJ. It would have made perfect logical sense to simply combine them with my LJ friends.
MegaZone
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Putting it simply, it is the ability to pull content from all over the open web via RSS (or Atom) into one 'dashboard'.  I can keep up with different sites, and the way I use it is to select one feed at a time to go through.  I don't want everything mashed into one 'flow'.  I group feeds by categories - tech sites, YouTube (I find following YouTube channels via RSS MUCH better than subscriptions on YouTube), people of interest, comedy, etc.

My mental flow is such that if I want to catch up on tech I can pick through those feeds.  I don't want to have comics or humor content mixed in - that's not where my head is at.  Conversely when I want to chill and have a laugh I don't want to have a bunch of tech blogs mixed in.

I can go away from Reader for an extended period - if I get busy with work, I'm on vacation, etc., and when I come back all of the new content in my feeds is organized and waiting for me.  Something like Twitter, or G+, of FB, where updates are all mixed into a single flow is impossible to catch up on.  And maybe I want to be selective and only go back on certain feeds while on others I'll mark as read and start from the current point - you can't do that on the other sites.

Reader lets me pull in the content I want to see and read it how I want to.  That's what it boils down to.  It puts the power in my hands.  At this point if a site doesn't provide a feed I can subscribe to, they're tell me they don't want me as a reader - and I won't bother returning.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I am curious. Did you use Reader yourself, and if so, how would you answer your own question ("what are the aspects of the way Reader works that made it so useful for you?") yourself?
 
The android app was mean and clean. I loved the Mark (multiple) as read that helped a lot when managing a lot of sources. Also the star/bookmark function was used a lot as a "read later" tag. The fact that articles were cached allowed me to read articles although the source website may be blocked from certain networks. And lastly, almost every website still support RSS so integrating new sources was a breeze. 
 
+Yonatan Zunger  since you asked about SNR, here's an example from the UK of how Twitter can ensure high SNR.

Transport for London provides real time travel updates for its many tube, train, light rail, bus and tram services:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/social-media/

Using Twitter, they have created multiple feeds, each of which represents a single line or mode. In this way its customers can choose to subscribe only to the information that is relevant to them. Hence high SNR.

Now I understand that G+ is not set up for real-time travel alerts. But it is set up for long form publishing.

So I could use G+ as as a Reader replacement and follow +The Telegraph. However that's going to give me everything they publish when I might only want Tech news and Film, not Sport or Book Reviews. But on Twitter I can subscribe to @TelegraphFilm and @TelegraphTech and safely ignore the others.
 
The bottom line is that it was an RSS reader, allowing me to follow several blogs with disparate posting schedules, all in one place with an interface allowing me to organize them as I saw fit. 

That's the feature I'd like to see carried over to G+.  Allow us to circle RSS feeds and treat them like any other contact.  Notably, let us put them in our own circles for organization and set their frequency in our main stream.  Maybe we always want the comics but only want the politics when we view that circle directly.
 
I'll answer this question by comparing my experience, so far today, to migrating to NetVibes. I've managed to transfer my feeds (and fixed a few I didn't realize were broken) from Reader. There, I've been able to see my feeds and in their proper categories. I can even see then as an entire group.

However, what I can't do, which I could in Reader, is see only the newest items if I wanted to That way I wasn't bothered by already read items. That was important to me as I tend to check feeds constantly through the day (I'm a community newspaper editor whose interested in a ton of things) and need to only see what's new while starring/saving things for later.

That's what I could think of at the moment. I'll post again if I think of something else.
 
+Yonatan Zunger A few reason why it was/is so important and unique to me.

To explain it a bit, I follwo about 163 feeds on a daily basis. 

1) The webview was clean. I could easily organize it, and see as much information as I needed without distracting design stuff. While services like currents are good for "slow" reading, they're not efficient enough to get a quick overview of hundreds of news and sources. 

2) I can read a big part, or in many cases the full article right in the google reader or my mobile client of choice

3) It is/was the backend almost every good rss reader app is using. My Android app of choice to follow RSS feeds is Reader HD (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ageofmobile.reader). Nice phone and tablet layout, it has a "slow reading" magazine style, but also a quick list like view for the quick overview I need. It can also mobilize feeds so I can read the full articles even from shortened rss feeds. It's fantastic, especially during the many hours a week I drive in a train where I have barely any internet access.

So the most important things to me are a clean web view without any fancy stuff and a really good realiable api which 3rd party developer can use for their apps to keep everything in sync. 

I love G+, I love app.net, but there is nothing which makes following a ton of websites and sources as efficient and quickly as google reader. 
 
It was my canonical list of what I've read and what I haven't.  I have had at various times over 200 feeds subscribed and having one source I could read anywhere that knew exactly what I've read and exactly what I haven't and allowed me to put feeds in folders so I could focus one just one topic if I wanted to.
 
What +Melissa Hall said about social.  Reading blogs for me is a very private activity.  My list is super-eclectic and I can't really share all of it with any one person.  The first thing I did when GReader added social features a few years ago was install Greasemonkey scripts to disable them.

Trying to read my blogroll on G+ would be like trying to play Jenga in a hamster ball rolling down a hill.
 
+Yonatan Zunger analogy: G+/Google News is to Pandora as Reader is to RDIO.

Example 1
I scan the NYT daily. Often more than once per day. 
I have subscribed with Reader to certain NYT columns/authors that I always want to read or at least know have published. 

Example 2
I follow many Google people or Google blogs in G+
I have subscribed with Reader to Google Blogs for updates on Chrome OS, GMAIL, Google Voice

Example 3 
I scan Google News all day long and see some Verge pieces there on a regular basis in say the Technology section.
I have subscribed with Reader to The Verge. I like to scan all of their headlines regularly because they put out a lot of stuff and some of it is interesting. (and their reader feed is a more efficient way to get that done than going to their site directly).

Once something/someone has been identified as interesting or potentially more interesting than some random standard of interest, if there is an RSS feed to maintain that direct connection Reader serves as the place to go to make the connection. 

As most have said, the ability to mark as read/share/save makes the entire experience very worthwhile. 

Thanks for asking and hope that helps.
 
"I did not have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one."  ..to paraphrase Blaise Pascal

+Yonatan Zunger  I think this quote summarizes my feeling about newer Google services in general.  Because of the vast resources of Google and the general can do technical (engineering) attitude of most Googlers I think there is a mistaken belief that being the swiss army knife of * (* = social, wallet, etc.) is the way to go.  Throw the kitchen sink at the problem and see what sticks because we have this wonderful platform that we can measure and improve over time.  

The problem with this approach is that there are simple, elegant use cases that can get overwhelmed with all the clutter of a big bang approach.  Examples of products with this original elegance would be Google search (before I got inundated with birthday reminders of every stranger I have circled), Twitter, and Google Reader.

Google Reader allowed me to simply create my own lens on the world of authoritative or semi-authoritative news sources and thoughtful opinions (bloggers).  Far better than letting Reuters or Google news spoon feeding me what they think I want to read.  It is simply the fastest, most efficient and elegant way for me to keep up with the zeitgeist.

Creating first class citizens of news feeds, blogs, etc. in Gplus and having a simple way to organize, filter, file and share them would be a good step in the right direction.  After all, Gplus should aspire to be open to all sources of information, not just Gplus posts (links wrapped up in a Gplus post don't count as first class objects).

Ultimately, I would like to see Gplus be the intersection of the global Zeitgeist and my interests.
 
It is very hard to add something new to the great comments above. What I would like to say is that the mix of features cited above (folders/tags, read/unread, compact view, stars, and on and on and on) concurred to give me the overall feeling of owning my stream.

"Owning the stream" has different meanings, and on different levels: you want to own WHAT goes in the Stream, WHEN and WHERE you check it, HOW you categorize/tag it and HOW you browse it, WHEN you want to dismiss it, what you want to SAVE before it flows away, and so on... In its simplicity and completeness, Reader has always given me this sense of having things under control, on all the levels that control could be exercised.

Another meaning of "owning my stream", for me, after a long time spent using Reader and G+ side by side and daily, is this: I want access to the unadulterated sources of my news. I'm absolutely not into the trend that SNs can replace RSS. I prefer to spend my time checking some hundreds of posts, rather then getting the filtered juice that a SN can give, and risking to lose an interesting article only because it's not mainstream. In this case the value of Reader was that it made the "direct to the source" approach feasible with little or no pain, but this has already been said.

Coming to the "concrete things" you asked for, I'll name one in particular: the textual, bare bones nature of Reader made many articles much more readable than on the original website! No banners, no ads, no sideboxes, no colors, no graphics, no CSS paraphernalia. I understand that this may appeal to only a very small set of people (the most radical non "visual" ones :-), however for those few I think it made the difference between "I'll read this" and "I won't read it". 
Amy Rich
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Benefits:

* Chronological view.
* Uncluttered UI that didn't waste half my screen with chat bars, suggestions, or ads.  Would have liked less whitespace to the right, though.  SHould resize with the browser.
* Ability to aggregate many sources and group them how I wanted.
* Ability to tag things to save for later.
* Ability to integrate/share with other media at the click of a button.
* Easy to mark large number of things as read at once and not have to see them again.  But if I needed to, I could switch to seeing all articles, not just unread.
* No input from other people (likes, comments, etc) by other people to clutter my reading experience.
 
Why I use Google Reader:
- you cannot read 1500 new entries every day in 15-20 minutes with other services because they're slow
- Google Reader has a high availability, I don't want to know how slow the other platforms will be, when all the Reader users switch to their services
- the whole design made the items easy readable
 
The UI was mainly irrelevant for me since I mainly used an external program that used the reader API. I like it to have the feeds centralized - doing it so I can read it from many places because of the flag that shows if I had read an article already.
 
1) The openness. It is not limited to a social network, but the contrbutions can come from anywhere using open standards.

2) Great third-party readers using Google Reader as its backend.

3) Really fast to browse through big number of feeds. Poweruser-friendly.
 
It is frankly bewildering to me how else you would follow anything online without something like Google Reader. I guess I'm going to have to find out how.

I keep up with a few dozen professional blogs, a dozen blogs of people I know personally, and quite a few webcomics. The whole point is that I want to be able to choose when I read and yet make sure I don't miss anything, especially from the sources that post irregularly and from the people who are important to me. The "stream" model in Facebook and G+ is incompatible with that.

But aside from that, the content I want is simply not available any other way. If RSS went away, it's not like I could just subscribe to these comics and blogs in G+: they're simply not there. I would have to keep checking all these web sites manually every so often or, since I'm a reasonably technologically literate guy, just write something that polls them periodically: i.e., reinvent Google Reader.
 
The UI is clean. I love that it's not tied to my computer, I didn't have to install anything, and it works no matter where I was (as long as I'm signed in). On that note, I love that it was tied to my Google account, because I'm always signed in, and always using Gmail. 
 
+Yonatan Zunger Good things about Reader:

Guaranteed delivery of all posts, regardless of if the last one in the feed was weeks, months, or years ago. If I added a feed, that meant I wanted to see every update or at a point in time of my choosing have the ability to mark all unread items from that feed as read. The important thing was that no intermediary was choosing which posts I did or did not see.

Feeds being user-agnostic was extremely helpful. Various people and pages use or avoid various platforms for a multitude of reasons. Some people want to use Twitter to communicate, some G+, some Tumblr, or their own blog, or any of dozens of combinations ... but everyone had a feed (until relatively recently). The poster could communicate however they wanted and the reader could consume however they wanted and neither felt they were being forced to use a service they didn't want to use.

Compact design, lots of information conveyed in minimal space. Easily able to flip from one item to the next.

Synced across platforms so it was extremely easy to "pick up where I left off".

(edit) Search! How could I forget search! That's going to be a huge blow that will just disappear. As others have said, it's basically a search of "things I've decided are very important". Readers's ability to filter is superb, specific feeds, specific tags, everything at once. G+ is unfortunately sorely lacking in that regard.
 
1) Possibility to see unread posts and make them unread,
2) Possibility to bookmark posts for later reading,
3) Possibility to subscribe not just to particular blog but to this blog in combination with keyword (not sure about Google Reader but it's possible with Yahoo! Pipes). Let's say I want all posts from my X circle or X person/+Page about 'Google'.
 
"The UI is clean. I love that it's not tied to my computer, I didn't have to install anything, and it works no matter where I was (as long as I'm signed in). On that note, I love that it was tied to my Google account, because I'm always signed in, and always using Gmail.'
I could of not said it any better. I am in the job market and it is the most efficient tool for keeping track of leads from craig's list and other sources. Nothing I mean nothing out there is as simple, clean & just works. I spent the better part of the day looking at options and there are not any.
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Total and complete ability to control and centralize my information

I could put anything I wanted into Reader that had a RSS or Atom feed.  I didn't have to wait for the producer to decide to use something like twitter/facebook/google+ before I could get information from them.

And if they didn't have a feed associated with their page, I could run them through something like http://page2rss.com/ and create a feed and collect them all into Reader.

It allowed me to centralized all the information I wanted from the internet, even twitter/g+ and other social networks if I so chose.
 
When I used Reader it was the Reader bookmarklet and the Buzz integration. When Buzz and the bookmarklet were removed, I quit using it. If there was a Google Plus bookmarklet, I would consider Reader a successful experiment.
 
Reading this thread I'm kind of stunned as to how useful and functional Reader really was. I feel ashamed that I just used it to read blog posts and news feeds. 
 
Here are my uses/needs for this service:
1. A ubiquitous subscription button that sites can use to add their feed. Google Reader gave such a button, rather than having to copy and paste feed data.  Maybe an "Add rss feed to G+"?
2. A place to read that allows JUST headlines and maybe a line or two of text, so that I can quickly scroll through them.
3. The ability to mark all of them as read all at once and have them disappear. (VERY important).
4. An API that will allow me to choose the best reader software or app (choice is good, competition is good).
5. If it is incorporated into Google+, it needs to NOT be just another feed like my circles, home or communities, but a different look and feel, the way photos are different. 
Ben Eng
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See these past posts:

https://plus.google.com/111448464358034614531/posts/CkbDrnwMrt6

* Summarize unread posts according to author, so that reading can be prioritized, progress tracked, and unread items can be deferred until later without having them "fall off" the bottom of the stream.

* I hate hate hate the timeline stream-of-consciousness reading paradigm promoted by social media sites Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. The Google Reader user experience of reading according to author (summarization and priority) and read/unread status tracking are essential.

https://plus.google.com/111448464358034614531/posts/cZhiyFE6QGu

* Cloud-based read/unread status tracking, so I can continue reading where I left off from any device

* Web based reader in addition to an Android app to facilitate any of my devices.

https://plus.google.com/111448464358034614531/posts/NGkjc6p7ZKf

* Google services need to leverage Google's strength in dealing with bringing together information from everywhere and integrating and applying Google's breadth of tools, especially Search, to them. This includes social media services like Google+. G+ can be a better Facebook by abandoning FB's idiotic timeline-based stream-of-consciousness paradigm, which places value on spur-of-the-moment social engagement; and embrace a durable-information-and-intelligence paradigm, which places value on knowledge.
 
Thanks for asking the question, I agree with what many others have said. I hope that you are able to use this information to either communicate this to the decision makers and stop the death of Reader, or at least add a way to view RSS feeds with G+.
 
Reader was my command center for over 150 feeds to various information sources that are very important to me. It was the one place of organization I could easily ramp through tons of important content without cluttering my inbox. I use it as a source for many other interface technologies on mobile devices. I liked it being integrated with my Google account and the shortcut keys. I started using Feedly last year, and actually prefer Feedly's UI. If Google actually invested into Reader to spruce it up, I'd be back in a second.

Doing this to force people into Google+ is outright stupid and silly. Google sensors posts with circle feed controls, plus it's highly disorganized and schizophrenic. I hate the stream on G+, Google should have followed along the Pintrest boards philosophy to categorize and give options to choose what information they want to follow from people. 

I follow tons of really intelligent people, but you wouldn't know by the cat posts. They post good stuff occasionally, but that stuff might pass by and you'd never know. Reader at least allowed for dedicated content following. They should have also made RSS into Google+ so I could follow everything from specific people I hang on to every word. 

Tossing Reader out is a really huge waste and squandered opportunity for Google. It will re-invoke some major innovation on RSS that we haven't seen in 10 years and people will use them, and not Google. This has shaken a lot of people to the point of not trusting Google anymore for important services. I'm pretty miffed about this decision, without consulting users. If Google had it's own online petition to save Reader and collect feedback, it could have done something amazing that users would have been ecstatic about. There's a violated feeling to this decision, that cuts deep.

Seeing Google come around and reverse course and do the right thing would be the best decision it could make and people would really appreciate it and show some user sensitivity vs. soulless corporate money making machine.
 
 
Some blogs update very sporadically.  It's a good mechanism to aggregate a large number of low-frequency-but-high-quality streams.
 
Only thing that made Google Reader useful to me was the ability to sync what I had and hadn't read. 

All other features of Google Reader that were useful to me are subsumed by a simple "Share" button in Android or were trivialities any other old program could do.
 
Saw a news story today about how Iranians have been using Reader as a way around censorship.  If true, this is another thing that will be bad about killing reader.
 
Synchronisation.  The fact I could use a bunch of different clients on all different platforms but have my feeds and unread items in sync was a critical component of the way I use the web.  That will be the hardest part to replace.  There will be no shortage of individual companies replicating the Reader "API", but will any of them get a foothold?  Will any of them be the one that all clients implement? The answer in the medium term at least is probably no, and that leaves a huge gap. 
 
1) The read state tracking - I used Reader for those things where I wanted to be able to follow everything, and not lose my place, especially webcomics, but also serialized stories.

2) The particular sources available - which was pretty much every source, whereas it is hit or miss whether sites have a G+ feed.

3) The list view - much much quicker to scan for interesting topics than a G+ feed. This makes it possible to follow high volume sources that I simply could never follow on G+, because there are too many posts a day.
 
My Google world is a combination of G+, Google News and Google Alerts (in that order). By tuning those three I get everything I want. I tried Reader briefly but much prefer that trio, with G+ at the top.

It would be nice if my selections for News and Alerts could feed into G+. That would give me an ideal 'reader.' A one-stop shop.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I appreciated the rapidity of skimming through the list of unread items, skipping from article to article with 'j' or scrolling completely through interesting longer articles with spacebar.  (The keys are not particularly important, although my Unixy self found those comfortable; the important features were rapid skip versus total visibility.)  I also appreciated the synchronization of read/unread status between my Android reader app and the web client.  The aggregation of all of the disparate RSS feeds into a single ordered stream is nice, while preserving the ability to grab individual streams when looking for historical content.  Honestly, the biggest takeaway I have from reader is that I use it daily to skim dozens to hundreds of articles, but I feel like my interactions with Reader itself are minimal -- it just gets out of my way.  I hope my two cents can help other apps be as invisible.  ;-)
 
I'm going to answer your question with a tru story bro.

Once upon a time in the distant past I used hotmail for some occasional email, eventually I would not log in for a few months and it would delete everything.

Recently I see adverts for microsofts revolutionary new online email product. Apparently its the best email ever designed by man, maybe it is. It actually doesn't matter anymore since as far as I am concerned these are just the people who delete all my email.

Why would I ever trust them again?

It didn't matter what I used hotmail for and it doesn't matter what I used reader for. 
 
One click RSS subscription via the Chrome extension "RSS Subscription Extension (by Google)"  which I just noticed seems to have been removed from Chrome Web Store.
+100's for syncing read/unread status across devices and third-party apps.
 
I can echo many of the features already recited but I will truly miss being able to "Google" my own hyper-personalized news/comment stream.

Google Reader is actually the ultimate custom search engine. 
 
I never used social features; for me it was cross-device synchronization of read and unread feeds, plus search within the feeds, plus a reasonable read-in-place ui for streams that support that.
 
the shortcuts. i can go through so much of information in such little time because of that. clean layout. and the fact that it is available of any platform. my favorite apps can sync to it.
 
search (!!!), staring, read later + (very important) my own private tags (a list of them I can access). Oh and subscribing to blogs and seeing posts without having to visit them (skim through a lot but organized information quickly - folders or blog circles)! I know people post their blog entries on their streams, but it's a completely different animal to be able to see just these blog posts without the other noise, when I need to right next to other blogs in that folder. I loved reading blogs in reader and searching info on certain topic there in my own archive of interestingness. I need the possibility to organize in my own chaotic ways please. (Circles don't work for me since I am a person with interests all over the place and I like people who are too. Communities fits much better but isn't a solution on it's own for information organization .)
Staring and read later, because I hate that google+ doesn't give me a list of all the +1s I make on google+ please change that (I almost never + 1 outside of google+)  and on top of it let me private tag these +1 too...would be so nice!
 
It had value to me as a an rss aggregation point that allowed me to sort and organize those feeds and it was attached to my Google account. That allowed me to easily use it across different platforms. 
 
in the Reader UI, the keyboard shortcuts are really helpful. i can literally tab over from my terminal and keep my hands on the keyboard, read through some headlines, star some, read some, etc. 
 
Just realized something else about Reader vs. NetVibes (picking up from my first comment): I believe Reader refreshes automatically more often than NetVibes, or at least that it picks up on new items more quickly. That may sound like the same thing, but I've never been sure if it is. Anyway, Reader = faster in my book.
 
What I love most about Reader is that by controlling the read/unread state and synchronizing that across all applications that use the Google Reader data feed, I actually get the impression that I am getting something done, completing something... it's a never-ending task being an informed citizen in the time of the Internet. Reader gives me extremely granular control over the data feeds I want to cover, and it presents these feeds in a list view that is particularly suitable for scanning, so that I can determine what I read without having to confront the entire article/post/item. And then it keeps track of what I've read and gives me a means for highlighting them (starring) which I can then use with IFTTT to link with Evernote or some other web service to capture content I want to save permanently, relatively effortlessly. As a librarian and a researcher, I will miss this tool.
 
Synchronized feeds with read/unread state across all devices. A way to have a single stream of incoming posts so I can sit down at any point and just "browse through" the latest stuff (the only thing I missed was a better scoring method). An actually useful user interface (it's shocking how absolutely bad most feed readers are at this!). And an android app that shares these features.

(g+ could do with a "read/unread" feature. And the ability to "circle" RSS/atom feeds. Ahem. ;-))
 
Efficiency. I can glance through hundreds of (interesting!) articles very quickly and find the ones I want/need to read.

High quality content. Google Reader's content is of much higher quality than my G+ stream.
 
I like the organizational features, e.g., grouping feeds in folders, easily seeing how many new items are available, same keystroke navigation as gmail, page through items, and mark all as read.
 
The greatest value I got from Google reader was that if provided a single reliable source/database of my feeds and maintained individual item status (read/unread/saved).  I use several RSS feed apps on several devices and OS's. All of them accessed and synced to my centralized RSS feed list in Google Reader.  So although I'm sure I will survive if had to independently setup feed lists for each device/app, optimally I would prefer a single synced source that I can use with my apps of choice to read and manage my feeds.
 
Top reason find Google Reader (and for that matter, many RSS readers) useful is that I'm a completion addict. There are many sites which I like to read completely and be sure that I've read 100% of their content. Features required for this are mark read/unread, show only the messages from a chosen feed, show all posts. The popular internet social networks fail at this because they are primarily date-driven. My reading is usually not--I like reading somethings at some times, and other things at others.

Other features I find to be important are good keyboard control (though the keys used in reader are quite odd, stranger than say, trn), being a backend for other rss readers, sync with other devices, running within a web browser (I like NNN, but it's awkward to use since it's not in a browser).

Feel free to reply in Yiddish, but I find it odd that Google would kill off a product that is certainly best in class, and is mostly used by power users. What do you use for RSS reading?
 
Google plus just crashed when posting my previous comment. Rrgh.

Read/unread - Some news I want in a river. Some I want in a list I can churn through, ensuring I at least glanced at each headline. Read/unread lets me keep track.

Chronological (oldest first) ordering - I like to start with the oldest. Combine with read/unread, it really allowed to churn through things.

Subscribe by RSS - Plus limits us to content creators that have the time/resources to do community management. Sometimes I want to decide what of the site I'm getting, not what the community manager has curated.

Full text right in feed - Short preview and blurb is good for scanning, but I love being able to expand to full article right in feed.

API - Allowed different apps. Allowed interesting syncing. Google plus feels too forced into Google's concept of what it has to be.

All this can and should be in Plus! If it was, I would use Plus every day like I do reader. As is it, I barely come by. Most friends are still in Facebook. Must-read "slow" news was in Reader. Breaking "quick" news is in Twitter. Plus could satisfy what Reader has been. But it's certainly not for me right now.

CC: +Ralf Haring
 
The most important thing for me is that Reader was available anywhere I had internet access, instead of being bound to one computer. 
 
The Magic sort option always knew exactly what I wanted to read.  I'm not sure how it worked internally but I always imagined Reader watched your time hovering and scrolling on each article to determine your interest for not only that feed but the context of the article.
 
Is there a way to get a RSS feed for the comments on this post.  I would really like to be able to come back a few times and see what new comments get posted so I can +1 the really good ones.  This is part of what make reader useful to me.
 
For me, the essential features are:
1. It lets me follow more subscriptions than I could reasonably handle by hand. It would be impractical for me to poll a hundred sites every day waiting for one of them to update (especially since some have very fast update cycles and others have very slow ones), but it's quite practical to follow all of them if there's a tool that aggregates them into a single stream. I don't have to manually keep track of which subscriptions I've checked today.
2. It clearly distinguishes between read and unread items. This means it's easy to use Reader to follow an author where I want to read every item. I have some such authors in my feed.
3. It's fast. In particular, skipping from one item to the next is fast. That makes it practical for me to subscribe to a feed where I think I'll only find 10% of the items interesting. I have some of those in my feed too.
4. It syncs between devices. This is valuable, but I think probably the least valuable of these four. If something had just the first three features and was linked to a single mobile device, I could probably tolerate it.
 
+Yonatan Zunger For me it was simple: it just worked. I didn't use any of the fancier features; I use it for reading specific feeds async, listening to podcasts, all my webcomics consumption, etc.

Also a larger point re transition:
1. Couldn't you have made feeds into a type of pseudoprofile that one could subscribe to via G+?

2. Why just kill something dead that is, considered in its own right, a clearly successful and well loved product for any company not Google size?
(https://plus.google.com/u/0/103112149634414554669/posts/gTNKaxF3Nkb)
 
+Cesar Gemelli Thanks for the ping.
+Yonatan Zunger Two uses of Reader: (1) Consolidate Twitter mentions and my own Twitter feed. (2) Consolidate my students' blog posts whether Blogger or Wordpress or...
 
Easy way to keep informed with many different journalistic sources. Much better than TV, radio and press to know what is going on in the World. Why Google scrap it rather than selling it (free version for all + pay version with extra features) ?
 
+Yonatan Zunger I consciously stay about a month behind in reading long-form items in my Google Reader stream. I find it is good to be vaguely aware of "breaking news" (whether the Syrian revolution or the Harlem Shake). Being a month behind means that I get the in-depth magazine pieces and am still assured that I didn't miss anything. Reader is excellent for this because it lets you parse everything and selectively read full pieces.

The great thing about the minimalist UI was that Reader never gets overwhelming, even with hundreds of posts being out there unread. A lot of feeds also have full length articles right there for your reading.

The cloud sync is also a unbeatable feature. For instance, in months to come I could move to RSS Owl, but wont have the app on my phone in sync with my work laptop (where I can't install it anyway). Pulse, Flipboard, and Currents have too little real estate to really handle the kind of monthly backlogs I run up! I have about 500 unread items now and intend to click through (if not fully read) all of them.
 
Yonatan asked a couple of related questions: "So was the value for you in the particular data sources available via RSS?" and also "Why do you think it had such a high signal-to-noise ratio for you? Does it have a higher SNR than other sources of data?"

I think those are related and they're also both sort of the wrong question. If I'm looking at blogs as a whole, or things with RSS feeds as a whole, then the SNR is extremely low. Someone (I'm too lazy to look up a cite) did a study of randomly sampled blogs and found that the vast majority of them were spam or machine generated gibberish or otherwise worthless. But, of course, I don't read a randomly sampled selection of RSS feeds any more than I read a randomly selected sample of printed text. (The SNR of printed text as a whole is appallingly low too.)

So yes, the value of an RSS reader is the specific things I subscribe to, just as the value of a magazine subscription subscription is the specific magazine I subscribe to. The reason an RSS reader is valuable is sort of the same as the reason being able to read print is valuable: there's a tremendous variety out there, and you can get a lot of value if you're careful about what you read. Lots of individuals and groups and institutions, from Scott Aaronson to Phil and Kaja Foglio to the Nielsen Haydens and friends to Jon Carroll to The New York Times, make their text available via RSS. It's easy!  You don't have to belong to any particular platform or community to make an RSS feed available. You can use any tools you like, and lots of tools make it automatic. So in practice limiting data sources to things that use RSS is hardly a limitation at all. If a data source I want to read is is (1) a stream of articles, and (2) available on the open web, as opposed to being hidden behind a paywall, then it's likely that I can access it via RSS.

Something that would make Reader more useful: generalizing it from "data sources that make themselves available via RSS" to "any data source where I want to track regular updates".

Things that would make Reader less useful:
- Anti-generalizing it from "data sources that make themselves available via RSS" to some more restricted set of data sources.
- Taking away the notion of read and unread items.
- Taking away Reader's manual control, where it shows me every single article but makes it very easy and fast for me to skip the ones I don't want. A tool that shows me just the articles it thinks I want will get it wrong sometimes. Even I can't predict in advance which articles I want. Skimming and very fast selection is a powerful tool.
 
For me the usefulness of Google Reader was in having one central place where I could see updates on a whole load of different blogs I want to follow. Being able to see post titles first, then choose which one to click on, then if I'm really interested I could click through to the actual post - that's a really good way for me to consume stuff. Plus being able to organise things in folders which I could name whatever I liked. Being able to mark stuff as read. Being able to easily go back and look at stuff even if I have already marked it as read. And all with a really clean no-frills design.

Also, sometimes I've used it for subscribing to comments on a particular blog post.

An added bonus is being able to subscribe without giving anyone my email address. Ninja subscription :)

p.s. I loved your warnings, but didn't you forget to add a Vogon poetry reading as a last resort?
 
Seeing how I'm probably comment #271, I'm sure many of these are repeated above, but for me:
Syncing read/unread across web and dedicated readers. I jump back and forth between web and a mobile device.
Folders
Starring (I typically use to read later in the case of longer articles)
List format: You can mow through many articles fast by scanning the headline and then clicking the ones that catch your interest. (the #1 reason social media can't be a replacement).
RSS is an option on just about any site so having one place to gather the content is great. Another reason social media is not a good replacement.
3rd party integration with RSS apps.
3rd party integration with ifttt.com
Easy sharing to Google+ or via email.
Clean interface (I kind of liked it on the last upgrade)
Never ran into any problems between the various flavors of RSS versions (atom, xml, etc.)
To a lesser degree: stats. It's always interesting to see stats.
And......just because it was run by Google!
 
In addition to some of the ideas listed above, I used it as a Spam filter against email lists.  It was easy to unsubscribe once I realized the content wasn't something I wanted, and a third-party didn't have my email list.
 
Ability to mix all of my sources in a single view, intermixing posts. Keeping and synchronizing read state. Ability to subscribe to any site with RSS, not only those preapproved by the app.

Currents is almost there for me, except for these features. (Haven't used v2 yet, so I may be missing something.)
 
As +Shawn Dreelin noted, I'm probably being redundant, but:
  - Very cross-device friendly;  apps, browsers, etc.  I use Reader from an iPad, a nexus 4, an android phone, and Chrome on two computers.  This is the really big one for me.
  - Fast scanning and keeping unread / starring makes it easy to triage lots of posts and then munge back through the ones you wanted to read. 
  - Compared to the alternatives, it's fast and simple.  Even Feedly, which seems to be the one I'm going to move to, isn't nearly as snappy as Reader when going through lots of feed items.  It also doesn't have a purely-browser based interface (yet?)

Currents is a terrible alternative;  it's slow and doesn't make it easy to plough through information.

The more I try to write this down, the more I find myself coming back to one thing:  speed.  Partly in a responsive interface, but more in having the information presented in a way that's easy to scan, tag, dump, and return to.  Many of the same things that I love in gmail, really.
 
Apart from what others have said above, Google Reader helps me follows blogs and new stories on slower 2G data connections.
 
I found Reader invaluable for tracking certain kinds of information:

1) Notices of new articles in technical journals. Many journals provide RSS feeds of all new articles. Reader allowed me to aggregate new articles from several journals in one place and scan them quickly for articles that I wanted to read. Here's an example of a journal that I follow: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00223093

2) News from sites that update infrequently. I follow some sites that only post new information once a month (or less frequently). Using Reader, I could be sure not to miss this information. With the way that social tools work, I would have little chance of seeing these posts in the flood of information from other sources.

The specific features of Reader that made this work for me:
- Use of the open RSS standard, which is widely supported.
- Tracking of read/unread articles.
- Simple list interface that allows quickly scanning new items.
- Chronological (not algorithmic) display of the articles so that I can decide what I want to see.

To me, social is about what other people are interested in, but Reader was about what I'm interested in.

Thank you for asking for these comments.
 
I use it mostly through the android app and igoogle
 
What made Reader relevant to me was the following features:

Content Aggregation, I got a lot of stuff that I liked to read and follow in a very organized manner.

Progress Tracking, I got to know when I finished a sites updates, when they updated (very useful for VG Cats and Castle Vidcons), what I've already read and what I found to be worth reading again in the future (starring).

Seamless Sync & Platform Neutrality, it was a true web/cloud app. I could use it in any browser without issues, any platform without trouble and any place while offline provided that I'd set the app to download articles for later reading.

Easy Sharing, I could easily share what I was reading to Google+ (I often did). I could also share articles via email with friends very easily and quickly reference something I read on the pc on mobile without much effort.

It Was Designed Around My Choices, basically I told it exactly what I wanted to keep tabs on and it did it. It didn't push anything on me unless I asked for it. I recently went through the curated webcomics list and discovered Questionable Content, it's now my favorite webcomic. I would not have cared for it much if it was pushed on me while I wasn't wanting to expand my horizons, I would have rejected it.

Performance, you didn't ever notice anything was amiss unless your connection was crappy. Even then it wold normally be a very short wait. Performance is brilliant, I'll miss it.

It's just simply great. It's not overly shiny, underfeatured or trying to control me. It does exactly what I want it to, it's a tool and it knows that it's a tool. The only automation I want it to do is the aggregation and content downloading. It did those spectacularly. I wish that I was a better programmer, otherwise I'd try to duplicate it for my own uses.
 
+Yonatan Zunger After sleeping over it, I realized that another thing is how the state of my feeds are synchronized over various computers -- in the morning, I'll use my Chromebook (like now), at work, I have a Windows machine, in the evening, I might be sitting in front of my Mac. Reader doesn't care. Note, in contrast, that the order of entries in G+'s stream changes with every reload, not to mention when I switch computers. 
 
For me it is the ubiquitous access (either via browser or phone, and always fully synced) coupled with the minimalistic UI.

For me, checking RSS feeds is all about speed and efficiency. That's why I syndicate the news in the first place instead of going over each page. And most readers have - IMO - needlessly fanciful or "slick" designs. Things I don't need.

I need something which "just" works, and is minimalistic about it. :)
 
Using a feed reader means that I decide what news sources I get informed about. I can make sure that I don't miss a piece.

A social network is not an alternative for that, because people usually only recommend the hot stuff from mass media, but very seldom really obscure things. Also, RSS is built-in in so many web applications that many authors might not even know that they publish it. If RSS goes away, every author would be required to actively publish his updates also on Twitter, G+, etc. This is not very likely to happen.
 
The ability to read the articles on any platform and have them all in sync so I don't have to re-read stuff.
 
Google Reader is my prefered Google product (after the search engine of course)  because  :
• I can read ALL  RSS feeds (newspapers, blogs, ...) that interest me  in one compact place.
• Easy to subscribe  any feeds 
• After reading or skiping a post,   I d'nt have to mark "Mute" as with G+.
When I mark a G+ post "Mute" it is not easy to get it back later  but with reader I can always return to its  source.

Google plus is a more verbose tools and I would appreciate if somebody could explain how  it can replace Google reader.
 
Personally I have long wanted Gmail and G+ to feed into Google Reader, not the other way around.
 
I like how it works with the gReader Pro app. I mostly go through the RSS I have on my phone. Not sure it that app works with other readers...?
 
Cross-platform syncing (I use two computers and an android phone) and easy, but manual, checkbox for marking read/unread. I typically view only unread items for all feeds and check the 'mark as read' box when I'm done (sometimes changing my mind to save for later).
 
I didn't use reader on the web but it was the backend sync that glued all my various clients together seamlessly. If reader ends up going away I can only hope someone duplicates the backend and the my clients support it. Otherwise my workflow is all sorts of fu$ked. 
 
I find it interesting, that you are asking, why the SNR is different, while to me it is somehow given through the different approaches, although there can be a lot of noise in both cases. I think the main reasons to me are:

1) in a newsreader (most of the times) I am closer to the source and subscribe to narrower topics whereas on social platforms I follow people . Even if you read a personal blog, the postings are typically more thought-out and focused.

2) not only have I more information beforehand, what to expect from a source, I can also organize it better, to read it at the right time and in the right context

If I see something as signal or noise also depends on the context, when I am seeing it and in a newsreader I have more control over when to read/ignore something.
I even have public Facebook-Pages, I follow via RSS, because they provide for example conditions of xc routes and I find it much more comfortable to filter and read this in my newsreader.
 
Google Reader was the Google+ for prose-based articles. How about a "text-view" option for Google+ which lets me add RSS feeds to circles, hides all the pictures, makes the text black on white instead of gray on gray, keeps track of what I have viewed, has an API to work with other apps, etc. 
 
Reader was simple and worked on all my devicves. I'm looking at feedly now, but I'm missing a simple list of all headlines.. Anyone know how to display one in the android app?
 
A few things that ma-k-de Reader a valuable tool for me:
1. When you subscribe to a RSS feed you're going to see all the entries from that feed. Here's an example: http://feeds.feedburner.com/GoogleAppsUpdates 
When you're following something/one on a social platform instead then you miss important things because they're muddled up in your stream.

2. Synchronised across my devices; I have reader on the web, my phone and my tablet. If I read an entry on one and star it I can easily find it on the other device, or if I read it and don't need it any more it's also marked as read everywhere else.

I accept that the web has move more towards social platforms and that's fine for personal connections and conversations, but when you need to be sure you're seeing everything that's published by a feed, blog, whatever then you still can't beat RSS and Google Reader.
 
As requested, copying this comment over to this thread so that it is collected with everything else...

To Google:

* if you're going to kill Reader to focus on G+, make what's useful in it part of G+
* track what is read (and mark read on scrolling, as in Reader)
* show only what is unread by default
* allow for subscribing to arbitrary RSS (or whatever) feeds (obviously)
* make the left-side-bar useful (who actually uses any button on there frequently enough to justify those huge icons) by putting the filters (top bar of circles) down the side as simple text, with unread counts.  The filters (circles) at the top are currently useless, because reading my "Friends" feed doesn't make it disappear from what I have in my "all" feed, I still have to wade through them in the All feed, so why bother reading them separately?

The key things Reader allowed were:

* allow people who track dozens (or even hundreds) of news sources and thousands of articles a month to use spare moments to jump in, plow through a few dozen articles, and track their progress automatically; that workflow is powerful and effective.
* allow people to scan everything quickly, and easily dive into what they actually need to investigate
* allow people to easily mark something for later viewing/reviewing (starring)

While you're at it:

* let me see my android phone's text messages in my feed (again, a separate feed I can add or not)
* let me see my google chats directly in the feed (same thing, preferably separated by user)
 
+Mike Fletcher Maybe +Yonatan Zunger can tell us (in Yiddish if he must) why, if G+ was ever going to do any of those marvellous things, it doesn't do any of them yet.  Fear of stepping on GReader's toes?  Seems unlikely.
 
Google Reader's features all around were extremely useful to me -- the UI was very user-friendly and easy to manage, management of read/unread posts was better than most of the other RSS tools I'd tried in the past, and the fact that I could "star" something for later use and share/+1 (once G+ came about) made it the optimal RSS tool for me.
 
'Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.'

While that is great, so far G+ feels like a Google-defined organization of information that comes out of a fire hose, while #Reader  allowed me to organize the information in a way that works for me. #Reader  has an incredibly efficient interface that allows me to very quickly scan 100s of news/opinion sources and cull it down to those that are of interest. I sort of do this with circles in G+, but it is inefficient, not even mentioning there's no feedback on the content of the circles like you get with #Reader , such as the number of new items (or even if there are new items).

As an example, I find many of your posts here interesting, even if they are not related to Google specifically, but I have no easy way to read some, ignore others and save some for later. If I could put your stream of posts into #Reader  (there used to be an app for that, but I lost track of it), I'd probably get much more out of it than I do now, since now, most of it just passes by in the stream of data that is the G+ feed (and if there are time differences, it gets even worse).

Another example, I have a circle called 'Google Stuff' where lots of interesting updates from Google show up from a variety of different people/areas. Even if I go there to see what's new, I'd have to scroll through pages (and pages and pages) worth of empty space, avatars, pictures of an embedded link mentioned and 2 comments per post (again with avatars and extra text of which half now ask Google not to get rid of #Reader )  just to see the headlines. And that is not even dealing with the re-shares of posts of people that are already in the same circle!. It is simply inefficient.

Perhaps there are ways to integrate that functionality in G+, but to me G+ feels fundamentally different than #Reader . For information aggregation I do not need pictures of people, large icons and suggestions, comments and previews of web pages. I just want a headline, and a way to quickly scan the article. That is what RSS provides and what #Reader  is very efficient at exposing. I sure hope G+ can be updated prior to July with that functionality.
 
Productivity features

The following Reader features allow me to quickly process very large amounts of posts from many different sources. By processing a batch of posts I mean deciding what actions to take and when, e.g. which to read on the spot or later, star for further reference or action, and so on. It usually takes me no more than 10-15 minutes to process 200-300 unread posts from 400-500 feeds.

* A compact textual list view with a focus on headlines. Suppose I see a great Curiosity panorama of Mars as the preview image of an article. Is the article about a geologic finding? A technical glitch of the rover? A pretty image it took? A proposed cut to the planetary exploration budget? No matter how pretty the image is, a text headline instantly tells me what the story is about.
* Compactly grouping and displaying only unread items, all of them, from all sources, so that they can be seen at a glance.
* The ability to be aware of all unread posts and sources.
* Categories for organizing or prioritizing content.
* Quickly checking the read/unread status of large amounts of related posts, and equally quickly marking them as read.
* Instantly accessing the full text of posts for reading or skimming them (God bless the bloggers who write for scannability). Having to visit the original link to get the text of many posts takes too much time, that’s why I subscribe to only a handful partial RSS feeds of stellar quality, and just drop all other partial feeds.
* Starring for further action or reference, which improves productivity by deferring action to favorable free time slots.
* Full text search across all items in all feeds.

Intangibles

These are intangible benefits or positive subjective effects that is difficult to associate to specific product features.

* Reader feels arbitrarily scalable. I currently subscribe to over 450 feeds but feel I could easily add many times as many. Bring moar feeds.
* Usage sessions are pleasant and rewarding, I never feel information overload.
* Having stream-like feeds, such as in Google+ or similar social tools, somewhat leads me to read most of the material on the spot, which takes more time. With Reader I can process much more material faster because getting the full text or expanded content is optional.
* Reader and RSS amplify content discoverability. Power users and curators uncover countless gems buried in the long tail of their feeds, which they reshare to much larger audiences. Most of the time, social streams offer well known mainstream or viral content. I hope the demise of Reader will bring some attention to the important role of power users, their need for good tools, and the benefits they bring to everybody else.
 
Categorization, number of unread posts, being able to put all of the sites I want to follow in one place so I do not have to jump from site to site to find the news that I want to find.
 
I had an afterthought, but now I see that +Michel van der List beat me to it:

Reader's job fits very neatly into Google's mission of "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." It's a tool that allows the user to sift through a huge collection of curated information streams with relative ease. It's not really comparable to G+ or Google News or any of our other products which are organized more around search.

It's puzzling to me that elsewhere we're rolling out new features to encourage curated content streams -- I'm especially thinking of our emphasis on YouTube channels -- and here we're killing them.

There is a lot of stuff about Reader that can be replicated in other tools on other sites. It probably will. But that only means that Google will have less visibility into my reading habits, and I think that's bad for the company and bad for the user.
 
- Simple, compact list view. Vastly more useful than the space-wasting, image-centric views in products such as Google+ Mobile or Pulse.
- Articles expand in place. Again, it's just simple and convenient.
- Combines all my feeds in one place. Other RSS readers force me to read each feed separately, which requires additional effort and creates a less enjoyable mix of content.

There are probably other factors, but those are the top 3 in my opinion.
 
Specifically:
 - Tracking what I have and haven't read before: ie: unread counts.
 - The ability to 'star' things to save them for later (which is hundreds of times more convenient than a bookmark).
 
Managing a feed list to plug into other readers, like Flipboard and Pulse. Google Reader was my feed aggregator, and I read through the feeds in other tools. Reader had excellent organization capabilities (folders/tags), great integration into google chrome (from a subscription perspective) and it was readily available (I already had a google account, no need for a new account on another service).
 
Choice, focus, minimalism, and follow-ups.
Choice: I know which sources I trust, which sources have (IMHO) the best content, and I don't want to 'discover' or have them 'suggested' to me. The reason I subscribe to an RSS feed is that I want it lumped into my narrow view of the Web.
Focus: I only get what I want. The content produced by the feeds that I like is all I need to see. No ancillary 'you may also like' or cross-network links.
Minimalism: The UI isn't fancy and it does exactly what it needs to do. I hate re-reading things or browsing a site to find new content so the Unread counts are extremely useful.
Follow-Ups: If I read an article about a new piece of software to download at home I star it to follow-up at home. If I see something that I want to show my wife later I star it so I can show her in the evening. I browse through at work then go in depth (if need be) at home.
 
I always liked that when I had no unread posts, I saw absolutely nothing. In contrast on google+ and facebook, I still see a massive stream of posts even though I know I've already read them. I like seeing a clean slate when I've nothing left to read.
 
Use case for me:

- Subscribing to blogs/sites I care about
- Headline/expanding interface
- Tracks what I have read/not read
- State maintained across desktop and iPhone
- Being able to star things for later
 
How simple and uncluttered the interface is.  I hate how showy all the alternative are.
 
I go through around 300 feeds/1500 articles a day. I read around 50 of them, but I scan all the titles. What I like about the Reader is:
1. Simplicity. No fancy windows, newspaper-like layouts etc. Just a clear list of articles I can go fast through.
2. Synchronisation between devices - I use multiple devices and have the always accurate state of read/unread.
3. Multitude of mobile clients (I could find the one with clean interface with quick "read" button" and possibility of displaying just the titles).

So - quick way to go through lots of news.
 
State maintained across all devices. For every platform there is a Google Reader app.
 
I don't know if anyone else used these - it's something I can't seem to find on other places - but 2 things are: a) trends, mentioned above, interesting graphical data of how you use the service, and b) the nicest thing was highlighting from the multitude of feeds the items that I read the most on the homepage, and reflecting that I do read them the most when I hadn't realised it.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Simplicity and Speed. I could 'j' through all my new articles very quickly and be able to pick out a few that I might be interested in. Not having to use a mouse and having the current article title staying in the same location on the screen as you jump through is the key. 
 
It had/has several benefits for me:

- A simple interface
- Remembering where I got to with the sites I care about (so unlike Twitter, it stores how far through posts I've got)
- A single place to bring together all the sites I think are worth reading (I can't think of any other place to do this, other than Reader clones such as Feedly)
- What I've read being synced so that I can pick up my Android phone/tablet and continue where I left the computer
 
I have over 1000 feeds in my subscription.  Reader is essentially how I interface with the web 90% of the time, and I'm annoyed when I can't get RSS for a site I like.  

I spend a significant portion of my day interacting with a Google app that is just as essential to me as Gmail.
 
Simple interface, its a collection of all the sites I want to read. Its not cluttered. Its by far the FASTEST of all the RSS readers on mobile and on web. Its not trying to be something more than just a damn good reader. The stats are nice as well. I dont care about sharing or staring or anything else. I just want a product that is fast, simple and shows me what I asked for.
 
i like that i was sure not to miss someone that blogged infrequently but was usually good.
 
The information density on the UI was the best I've seen in RSS readers I've used.

I subscribe to a LOT of feeds. I need to QUICKLY glance a lot of information. Google Reader does it better than anyone else.

Plus the read / unread management. I was using Google Reader almost as if a bookmarking service for news. I could then "check off" things that I read or wasn't interested, and leave the articles I hadn't glanced yet untouched for another time.
 
Rapidity of skimming large quantities of material. Auto-mark read via scrolling. Use of LIST view vs expanded view. Ability to sync across platforms. Of most value the easy (single keystroke) ability to star an item and come back to it later
 
Reader makes it so easy to quickly go through hundreds of pieces of content. It's compact list interface, free of pictures and other clutter made it easy to go through headlines looking for useful or interesting information. The keyboard shortcuts and the speed at which you could go through the list made it efficient.

Plus being able to use Chrome extensions that source rss feeds on the page and subscribe me with a simple click makes it so easy to add new sources as well. I also like that RSS keeps everything tied together. I don't like reading reposts of things on a site's social network profile, I like to go to the source site to read the story.

Finally the marking things as 'read' and having that available across all my devices makes it so much easier to move from home to work to my phone and home again without having to keep track of where I left off.

In contrast, I don't use google+ much because while it's pretty, I just can't get my way through a few hundred news items in an efficient way. Also, I don't have a way to just add any old blog or other source into the feed if they aren't cross-posting content.
 
Along with what Tero said, for me Google Reader was used a lot to subscribe to news sources that I wanted to be kept completely up to date with.

It was like a secondary inbox that I didn't feel overly pressured about "Inbox must hit 0!" "Reader is at 50 again?  Okay.. as long as it's not at 100"

One of the most important features was that I could stay up to date with the webcomics I was reading.  I kept Google Reader set as oldest first so that whenever I got webcomic updates I could simply browse through them in order (and I subscribe to a lot of web comics).
 
Just migrate our reader feeds to a gplus circle and we'll all be fine! Well, maybe some nesting would be nice.
 
Subscribe to sites (feeds), get the new articles (items) in a big list I can read through to be up to date, but also in folder/tag lists when I only want to see one topic that I curated. Also being able to star individual items to work with them later. All that in a simple and fast interface, that was what makes/made Reader valuable for me.
 
We consume information either from a social source we (trust/follow/are interested in) or from a non-social source we (trust/follow/are interested in).  For social sources, there is currently Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email.  For non-social sources, we either need to go to those sources to gather information from them, or work with some form of aggregation, such as TV News, Google News, or, in the more general form, RSS feeds.
An RSS feed, and specifically a collection of them, allows the consumption of non-social information that the person has indicated an interest in.  Those sources can be added or removed, just like they can be from the social sources.
Google Reader specifically provided the ability to have:
-a large concentration of information presented
-a synchronized feed across multiple devices
-the ability to ignore part of the information stream temporarily if you aren't interested in it at the moment
For information junkies, it provides the ability to quickly determine what's going on in areas you are interested in, at any time.  By controlling the amount of feeds, you can also match the volume of information you wish to review, with the amount of information presented.
 
I like to consume information in two ways:

- Curated (I use reddit + HN, others use tools like Prismatic)
- Pub/Sub (google reader)

Google Reader was the best way for me to have my own aggregation point for information sources whose publications I'm always interested in at least scanning.
 
if you want to follow trends of specific categories, and authories and thought leaders, reader or any rss reader is the way to go aside from data mining delicious or twitter, it offered a clean ui, it used to allow you to author your own presence/share thread well until they killed that off, and i chose to adopt it vs grandfartherware of + no offense, just didnt choose this experience, reader is one of the few google products i'd pay to keep alive provided they cared about it but they dont, so off to another rss reader or resurrect bloglines
 
The number one aspect if reader for me was the keyboard shortcuts. Being able to scroll quickly through thousands of feeds with just the j button made it much more useful than a social network that you have to scroll through manually and depending on the length of the post could be more time consuming. 
 
- Remembering what I've read/not read across devices
- Being able to see articles organized by source
- Being able to filter articles by source (social streams are just filled with... "questionable" sources)
- Being able to add new sources to my stream simply by virtue of them having RSS support, rather than having to conform to some vendor's API
- Being able to view all the articles shared by my friends as a single stream
- Being able to view all the articles shared by my individual friends
- Being able to share my own feed as a simple RSS, so people don't have to sign up/conform to a vendor API.

In theory, Google+ does almost all of these things, but in practice there is enough of a gap that it is a really different experience.

My typical usage scenario is to go to Reader, look for all my unread articles from all my friend's shares. If the numbers are overwhelming, I might cherry pick from a few specific friends. I'd also look at any comments on my shares. Then I might either let Reader show me an aggregate stream, or select specific streams. Having the tree on the side for navigation is somehow much nicer than the navigation process in G+ for moving between streams.
 
Ability to group RSS feeds into folders was also very useful. I read some folders 24/7, some weekly. The folders help me organize my information the way I consume it.
 
What I like about Reader is that it is easy to manage content where I want to read every item (podcasts, webcomics, blogs by my favourite authors). Reddit and G+ have their places for news/timewasting but they're not set up for real subscription.

Oh, and it's also extremely fast, and the layout is focused on content, not commentary.
 
Honestly, the best part for me was the bookmarklet in the Goodies section of the settings. I never actually set foot in Reader, but I subscribed to things and then hit "Next =>" in my toolbar (http://cl.ly/image/0q113h3N0n3C) and it just takes me to the next item in my list. It was so convenient and any time I felt like reading something new, I'd just hit Next. I didn't have to log in or go through some crazy UI or even worry about UI changes -- it just took me to the next page.
 
Reader was like an email inbox for feeds, with a clean interface. It was a complement to GMail. And RSS is still more used in a lot of places than social feeds. It was reliable, so people trusted to use apps that piggybacked on top of reader.

I think adding the social component killed everything about it. It's a personal productivity tool; a bookmarking service, and an inbox. It cannot be replaced, and it was a strong feature of the Google ecosystem.
 
I really liked that it was reliable, fast, and backed by a trustworthy company.  The interface was really good at prefetching content.
 
Ability to mark items as read so they don't come up again in other contexts!

Ability to mark different items, or collections of items as read: single items, groupings in folders, single feeds of common or large swaths of items.

This would be really nice to translate these features G+ and circles for non RSS G+ content, and even better if an RSS feed was presented as an output only "identity" managed by the circles interface in G+.

Now that I mention it, for G+ communities, lack of the ability to group content into circles, to "mark as read",  and compact headlines has really prevented me from digging further into G+ communities because it's difficult to go beyond one or two communities without being overloaded.
 
As someone who doesn't use twitter or facebook and doesn't like browsing the web, Google Reader is the internet to me. I can consume massive amounts of data from my favourite sources quickly and easily across multiple devices. If I visit a site for updates I have to manually filter what I have already seen.
 
I don't use it as a reading UI, but more as a repository for my feeds to access via a client (Reeder).
 
- keyboard navigation
- being able to browse topically related feeds by label
- tight display density in the "compact" view allows quick scanning of large number of headlines
- in short, the fact that the UI resembles the classic "news reader" of usenet days, which neither G+ nor any other scrollable-feed-oriented UIs have. 
 
The value of Google Reader to me has been primarily in keeping up with emerging technology; and it has helped me learn about some other things too.

What I like best about Reader is I can pick it up when I have a free 10 minutes, or a free hour; and then not pick it up again for 6 months, and then continue right where I left off.

usually getting information off the internet is like drinking from a firehose.  with Reader, I can take little sips instead.
 
The fact i can surf hundreds of news article headers within a few minutes using plain old vi commands (j and k) is a single big reason that I will miss Google Reader.
 
Social networks are a complete no-go for keeping up to date with interesting content due to the signal-to-noise ratio. There is a constant fear that you missed an important post amidst all the "share this with your friends so we get more followers" posts.

It was even difficult to keep up with Google Reader content despite being 99% signal, so any service that makes even the tiniest concession towards this will be a non-starter.
 
What I don't understand is why G+ couldn't have had RSS added as a section and sucked in everything from Reeder.  This could have potentially exposed the Reeder population to G+ and migrated the content discussion directly onto G+.
 
I likeed Reader because it allowed me to 'oversubscribe' to as much RSS as I wanted. I don't want  personalized information, and I don't want products that sort information for me. I want as much information as possible organized in the way that I choose to organize it all. I subscribed to 2,000 feeds in Reader, and probably only ever read maybe 1%, if I was lucky.  But that 1% was serendipitous, always up-to-date, and fell into the categories I prescribed.

Also, the unlimited archiving meant that even if I didn't read all the incoming news articles, I could still search for them later.

I can't do this with any other Google product and I don't see how you will possibly be able to incorporate either feature into another Google product without basically building something that looks exactly like Reader.
 
As others have mentioned, one major benefit is the ability to scan hundreds (sometimes thousands) of headlines and articles in a short time, like scanning subjects in gmail.  For that purpose alone, I could see one option perhaps being integrating reader and gmail, like outlook and other email programs, do.

But I (and many others) also benefited from its sharing features.  For example, being able to share a folder of feeds (now called a bundle), which had its own RSS feed.  I used that to let others more easily follow or subscribe to education and psychology related journal articles: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/user%2F03047188778299729825%2Flabel%2Fjournals

I also have a sidebar on my blog that shows the feed of google reader articles that I've starred: http://edtechdev.wordpress.com/

So using RSS in the sharing of reader articles and folders meant I could embed what I shared on other sites, or even forward to social networking sites, and it made it easier to share articles and feeds with others, too.

Relating this all back to Google+, some ideas might include:

* letting us 'circle' (follow) RSS feeds 

* providing a very compact list and folder view so that we can quickly scan hundreds of posts across several communities and circles

* let us publicly share (have a page for) our circles, just like we can with communities
 
I have subscribed to 443 blogs (and counting) over the years. I have carefully curated them into categories. Reader would let me "drink from the firehose" by making it easy to rapidly catch up on hundreds of posts  from my main categories (I would use the spacebar exclusively to page through items). Search in my feeds was useful, allowing me to mine my curated feeds for perspectives that I had already vetted. While I didn't really like the 'unread' concept for my main categories, it was great for surfacing when someone posted to a less-frequently updated, but potentially very interesting blog from deep within my feeds. This is why I loved Reader...while kind of clunky, its design supported access to a balance of a wide cross section of content, and letting me uncover interesting gems.
 
For me, the ability to have my feeds synced (read/unread status) on multiple devices. NewsBeuter on my desktop and official Google Reader app on my phone/tablet. Mark read on my phone, also marked read on my computer.

Edit: I don't think you can do this nicely with G+ without just cloning Reader into G+.
 
So, you'd like to understand better what the concrete things about Reader were which people found the most useful, because you'd like to integrate those ideas into future versions of many Google products, make people love them, then dismiss them as well?
 
I liked Reader's Star feature a lot.  I also liked being able to post directly into my Google+ account from Google Reader.  I know I can do that from websites with the G+ on them, but I don't have time to run all over the internet to do that.  Reader made it one-stop-G+ing, so to speak.  
 
1. I can quickly scan multiple sources and triage which ones I wish to read immediately, save for later or pass on.  
2. When I'm subscribed to a source, I know that I am getting a comprehensive list of the output from that source. I know I won't miss something, even if I don't read everything.
3. I control the sources and flow - social discovery is great but G+ and Twitter aren't comprehensive and they miss things which might be more important to me.  
4. The clean UI allowed me to do all of this very quickly and on multiple devices - I used reader extensively in Chrome and on my Nexus 7 and on my phone.
 
What I like about Reader is that it was built around reading first, not sharing. The sharing features are there, and I use them, but I feel safe to assume that when I read/star/like/bookmark an article, I don't also have to worry about who else this information is being published to, (besides Google of course.) For this reason I like Reader for reading, and social networks for sharing, and try to keep the two separate.
 
I use google reader to ensure I don't miss any new thing from a huge amount of sources (~600). A majority of the time. A lot of it is keeping up with HN, dribbble, codepen, and various other "front pages". A lot of those are more inspiration-oriented, as opposed to actual news, so if I don't see it there, I never see it. Another common use case is to set up a feed for craigslist searches, so when something I am looking for gets posted, I essentially get a notification in my most-used website pretty quickly.

Reader allows me to absorb them at my own pace, especially when I want to go through the feed multiple times, marking items im no longer interested in as read, and keeping the ones I want to follow up with as unread. 

The vim style keyboard shortcuts are a godsend.

I love the compact mode where I can focus on a single item at a time, and at most see the titles of the other posts. I am easily distracted and this helps me focus. The UI in google+ is distracting to me when I am trying to absorb a large amount of information quickly.

I like knowing that if I am offline for a weekend, when I come back on monday I can see every thing that I missed by scrolling to the bottom, and thats it. I don't want to see previously read items, unless I am searching for an old post.

google+ is a lot of original content - which is great. I subscribe to a few feeds using plus-to-rss services, but I read all of those in reader. Most of the things I am interested in have no reason to be posted on google+, twitter, or any other place than an RSS feed really.
 
I like having a web-based reader, so I can read feeds and keep items read/unread across machines. The Reader UI is also clean and uncluttered.

I didn't know you could categorize feeds. That's super handy.

The +1/Share buttons make it easy to spread articles. I can't figure out the difference between the two buttons, however. 

Lastly, it would be great if I could share on other social networks, too. (Gasp, I know!)
 
Reader is useful to me because:
- I can find interesting Jobs without visiting and searching everytime in the job-webs.
- I also use reader to find my current rent flat near to my job (I love the webs that allow configure feed with a filter search!)
- I am updated of the last events that i interested me.
- I am following in delicious some tag-feed useful for mi profesional carreer.

And finally I think that the aspects that made Reader a wonderful reader is the super clean and usable interface!

P.S: Sorry for my english :/
 
I think something important to note that hasn't been said is that sometimes you just want your news from the real world aggregated in one place, not mixed in with a social network feed.  Reader provided that.
 
You can star certain articles, so it makes for cleaner, searchable bookmarking.  Its integrated into gmail, so you don't need extra browser plugins, can access it from any computer.  You can easily search the feeds, and filter the search based on feed source.  And yes, they suck for shutting it down =P
 
My main ones are:
* history of a feed that goes back further than the current feed does
* easy addition / discovery - paste a URL into 'subscribe'
* keyboard controls
* embedded videos
* syncing.  nearly everything supports a Reader account.
 
For me it's hierarchical structure of News and knowing what I've read and making sure I didn't miss anything about something I am especially interested about.

For longer content: Pick out the few ones I care about, put them into Pocket(getpocket.com) and mark the rest as "read". I want this flow replicated somewhere.
 
I liked the way it aggregated RSS feeds so I could read them all in one place.
 
Sort by Magic, I still miss it and basically stopped using Reader when it was borked in 2011.
 
Reader is unique in that

- I can scan a large number of articles for interesting headlines/content, and throw most articles away unread
- I can mark articles as unread/interesting and then switch screens between NewsRob, the Reader Web App or NetNewsWire, depending on my current environment and work situation
- I can mark articles for keep, and search and find them later, even when they are deleted at the original source

and

- it is fast, not pretty

Reader is a tool for the one percent, with a 1:9:90 ratio between Create/Curate, Comment and Consume. It is aimed at multipliers, people who scan a great number of things in order to find the stuff that fits a pattern and that needs to be passed on.

That is also why Google is getting such a monumental echo at the moment - they have taken away a core tool from their power users.

Whoever evaluated the user numbers shold not have looked at the user count, but at user count times follower numbers or a similar reach metric.

Also, Google plus is kind of a complete loss when it comes to this. It is completely in the hands of the camerafools, and thinks it is a high gloss magazine and not a thing to get actual work done.
David A
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the navigation is brilliantly easy and fast. I can search for old articles, like in an archive, so everything that passed my Google Reader will be kept forever, regardless of the original source (what if it doesn't exist any longer?) The presentation of the actual item is simple and reduced, and not artificially blown up to give the impression one is reading a magazine (sth. with seems to be fashionable nowadays, have seen it in a lot of apps). 
 
- Read/unread state common across devices
- Allowed to quickly judge whether an article is of interest or not based on title (if you set the boxes to auto collapse)
- Related to above: allowed to go through hundreds of items a day
- Universal compatibility. All blogs have RSS, not all blogs publish to social networks.
 
I have subscribed to over 1000 feeds over the last couple of years, Key features that make reader invaluable in my day are 
- categorization through tags, enables sorting of the various rss fields not only by topic, location but by various tiers which I could ignore or dig deeper into depending on how much time i had. Ensured that content i always wanted to read would never get lost in a sea of updates.
- keyboard shortcuts, enables skimming through a long list of feeds.
- simple, compact view allowed skimming through a long list of feeds without getting distracted by pictures or other peoples comments
- ability to only view the stuff that is marked unread. 
- specific counts of exactly how many items are unread for each tag. Allows me to manage my time even before i start reading my feeds.
- capability to mark an item as unread so that i can view content later.
- ability to mark as read whatever items i scrolled past which meant that I would no longer see them in my feed again once i had read them.
- ability to connect other clients to manage google reader so that unread/read items are synchronized across all my devices.
 
My favorite aspect is to quickly move through lots of headlines, expand, read, collapse the ones of interest (or open full article in a tab) using nothing but keyboard shortcuts.
 
Reader was the best tool for interfacing with PubMed search results, which are exportable to RSS.  Working in biotech, I need to be able to track the most important terminology and authors to stay abreast of relavent research.  

I am not aware of any better solution to RSS for the science community and those in R&D for keeping tabs on itself.
 
It's a place that keeps track of my subscriptions, what I've read & starred. Starred items get shared on twitter, and my RSS reader syncs my read items and downloads stuff so I can read it when I have no Internet.

That's it. 
Arif A
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I don't know how you're going to read through hundreds and thousands of comments on this thread but here is my own, for whatever it is worth (just this first thought would clarify why GR is/was useful even amid the onslaught of Twitter/Facebook world).

For me,

- the ability to simply ask the websites to provide me updated content.  RSS pulls in the content website owners publish. For me to get this content without ever visiting their website, is a win-win situation. 

- the ability to not worry about the past content filled up in my GR and consequently, the ability to search the content so easily makes GR the hands down winner among any one else.

- the ability to pick and choose the content I wish to follow and not be dependent upon what others are feeding me.  Compare this to Twitter where you are following a person (even if that person is behind the news feed) or a bot which is grabbing the RSS to publish to Twitter. I like the ability to get the pure feed.

- the ability to get the updates on the blog comments. This is a unique RSS feature which isn't being fulfilled by Twitter or even Google+. 

- GR had the cleanest of all UI. The excerpt mode was good enough in providing the quick look to judge whether I wish to click the link or not to get the full content.

- ability to star/save or even share the links.

- ability to prioritize the feeds in folders.

In general, GR is basically an email client which Google could have incorporated into Gmail. 
 
- sync feeds between devices
- scanning is extremely fast thanks to its fast rendering and keyboard usage. I go through news using the "n" key. 
 
For me:
* It was/is a single place I can store my RSS feeds
* Keeps track of where I've read to, and when there are new items to read [at a glance]
* Easy to organise the feeds
* Easy to add a new feed
* Search through the feeds
* Simple layout, with little to no bloat
* It's in my browser, sitting next to my gmail tab, so it's always right there

There may be others that can do this, but this did all I ever needed it to.
 
Thank you for asking - here are my thoughts:
1) efficient use of screen space to quickly consume a lot of content quickly and flag content that i may wish to reference later
2) easy organization of content (feeds) so i can quick zone in on what i am working on (econ, financial stocks, tech news, etc)
3) works across all platforms and devices -- so i can quickly consumer on the best available devices/os ( win/laptop, iOS ipad, iOS iphone, etc)
4) easy to share content

Hope that helps!
bob
 
I think the main thing about Reader is that RSS is a non-social way of getting content I like to follow.  While I love getting news from G+, facebook, twitter, etc there are certain sites I want to read every morning, listen/view every podcast, or get notified immediately.  And I don't want to miss out on because it is mixed in with all my other social crap.

A great use case, I used every so often was for job searches.  Whenever I needed to find a new job, I'd do a job search say on Craigslist and just subscribe to the RSS feed.  This is something no one is going to post on G+ that I can follow.

The ability for sites to make automated feeds that you can follow is critical.  While this is low level, and most people don't understand RSS, I feel it is a core technology that needs a great App.  And now people can no longer do this with Google.

Lastly, what made me pick Reader over other RSS readers, is that it is cloud based.  I didn't want to have to get redundant notifications on multiple devices.
 
Reader is a widely-supported back end for Android news apps. It serves as my central repository and archiving tool. I quickly scan headlines in my Android reader (NewsRob). I pause to read short articles of interest, and I star things that I would like to follow-up on later.
For starred items, I later open a browser and go through starred items. As I open them I remove the star. If I want to refer to them later, I +1 them.
This workflow is fast and efficient, and allows me to swap Android clients at will without having to reconfigure feeds.
 
The fact that I had an easy way to find/add/keep up with all my newsfeeds, without having to download any software! It followed me on every computer. If it was built into chrome, that would be better.

I think there was a petition where people wanted to buy Google Reader from Google rather than have it shut down.
 
Using Reader with iGoogle, my home page always had a river of information from the large collection of sources I was most interested in flowing through it. Now they will both be gone.
 
Reader is for following publishers and writers.  Its following them at their source, from their own blogs and websites.

Its where we FIND the freshly published things that we might want to share on g+ / fb / twitter. When I find a blog that writes well then I add it to my reading list.  

Its author/publisher centric.  G+ is user/poster centric (and now communities too).  Completely different mode of operation.

I was incredibly surprised that Reader wasn't given a proper integration so that we could post and also just converse over there. I just assumed that of course you would wire up the G+ commenting and posting.  Instead those features were removed from Reader and never replaced with the G+ equivalents.  Nobody ever understood that decision.
 
Multiple RSS sources, really easy to see read/unread, mentally filter news based on headlines ... basically it converts multiple RSS feeds into a Gmail-like interface, which makes it really really easy to keep up with multiple news sources.
 
"Sort by Magic" was a useful feature

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I have another benefit, it's news vs social networking. Thus means on my lunch break I can use it at work, whereas a social networking site is restricted. 
 
It kept track of what I read, and its categorization features were very easy to use (presented in the sidebar, and always on screen).  When it also had social features, I liked how the "new comments" section was help separate from my "unread articles" section.  In e.g. Google+ and Facebook, sometimes new comments promote an article or post in my feed, and I can never be sure if I've read something and the whole thing ends up with uncertainty about whether or not I've missed stuff.

Missing stuff on Twitter is fine.  Missing stuff on the RSS feeds in my "frequent" category is fine.  Missing stuff on the RSS feeds in my "essential" category is not, and missing new posts from good friends is not fine.  Google Reader tracks both what I want to read and whether I have read it.  When drinking from a firehose, it sucks to have to keep one eye on the lake to make sure you haven't missed anything.

I also liked that spacebar progressed to the next item, and that I could "mark all as read" if I got overwhelmed.  I could declare "RSS bankruptcy" totally easily and without pain, and start over the next day.  The entire time, I could also be sure I hadn't missed anything in my "essential" category, which allowed me to declare bankruptcy without missing anything that I really cared about.

One other feature I liked was that I didn't have to do anything to make read items "go away".  If we think of Reader as a Gmail inbox, then Reader's feature of "reading item also archives item" was invaluable.

Summary: Tracks what I have read, good categorization UI, ease of declaring bankruptcy and starting over, and automatic archiving of read items.
 
It is how I "read the internet". Every site that I find interesting is subscribed to, even things like people's twitter feed. I didn't use the web ui, instead I used RSS readers that all synced with Google Reader.  I could seamlessly switch from my desktop, laptop, table and phone without missing a beat. Since it tracked what I had read, I could easily identify "where I left off". Starring posts allowed me to nicely save something for later instead of using bookmarks. The folder organization and terse listing of headers allowed for easy scanning for anything that interested me.
 
1, After the first few comments, this comment list became TL;DR.
2. What I liked of GR is its universality. Whether I read  GR at work, on my tablet or back at home, it always kept the same state I left it at the last time I used it. It remembered where we were intelligently.
3. I can add/delete the feeds I care about, not a prelisted, managed set of sources, or worse, a "category".
4. I can rearrange the groups of categories. I had too many feeds too little time. So I had some that I would read daly, they went into the daily groups. Others I would only read a special day of the week, they would go into a name of the week group. Others were associated to a special topic (Fantasy Football, for example) and I would only read during the season, othewise I mark them read blindly. The rest goes to an "Other" folder that I devour as time/interest allows.
 
When I visit Reader, it is when I want to consume news and entirely news in the shortest time possible. Social networks have too much noise from non-news. (Although I read my friends' blog through Reader, it is because when the author publish something on their blog it must be more important than status updates. Also, I add Facebook Engineering page's RSS on my reader because I feel that I cannot miss anything on that page.)
Since everything is important, I do have to read all and everything in my Reader, at least the title. Minimal UI and keyboard shortcuts help me finish my feeds in like 15 minutes.

I maintain clear seperation of my streams, I don't follow pages that publish news that I already subscribed on Reader.

The only features of Reader I use is mark unread on mobile when some items need to be continued reading on Desktop and favoriting which I use in the same way I use the bookmark feature on Chrome.

The reason I'm sticking to Reader is that it have became universal API that I can find a client on every platforms I'm on and I never have to read an article for second time.
 
To me, the most important part of Google Reader was tracking of read/unread state, for a small subset of sites that I want to closely follow.

Google Plus / Twitter are fine for a "river of content", but if I really don't want to miss items, I need a means to track what I've looked at against all new content.

P.S. Why do you have to scroll all the way to bottom of a comment thread in Google Plus to add a comment!
 
For me, personally, the most important GReader functionality was the "share" option, which (regretfully) transitioned to the +1 system. I'll explain.

The share button allowed you to "bookmark" an item instantly, and it would be saved on your "share items page". That page was accessible to anyone - I had a link on my blog to my shared items page; I even had a share banner, back in the days...
The great thing about the "share items page" was that it took no time to build - you see an item you like, press "share" and done. Better yet, the "share items page" itself had an rss feed. So I could follow - on Reader - someone else's shared items.

The +1 system wasn't so good, but I still used it a lot, marking items directly from Reader. But unfortunately, the +1 items page is not "reading friendly" for others. Also, it has no feed itself. I can't follow someone else's +1 page; I have to go there manually myself. It's still a closed system.

Thank you for opening this line of dialogue, though.
 
Google Reader let me subscribe to the entire Web as easily and conveniently as I subscribe to users on Twitter. What Google+ fails to understand is that users want to subscribe to content streams, not people.
 
It is easy to just skim through all my feeds with the j and k keys. The G+ button on each post was nice when I found things I wanted to share. 

One feature that used to be really good was the Recommended Items feed. Unfortunately, sometime in the past couple years it stopped finding very many interesting items. It kinda got stuck on pulling Lifehacker... Not sure if it was something I did, or if the Reader team did something.

Anyway, all the other features I used can easily be replicated by other services. But I'm not sure if any of them will have anything like what Recommended Items used to be like for me. 
 
There's no other tool I know of (yet) that allows me to manage (for some value of "manage") thousands of sources, many of which change only very infrequently.

I use Reader both as a "news reader" and (probably more importantly) as an archive tool, to be perused when I want to see the historical development of some topic (Reader's search was and is pretty good).
 
There is no pressure to discover new content, and my friends have no influence on what Reader delivers. It is a list of feeds that I can consume whenever I want.
 
I really enjoy the ability to have the same news items in my browser, and in my Android phone.  Even if an RSS reader feature were added to G+, unless it acts the same, it wouldn't be as useful.  I dislike having to surf dozens of sites to keep on various news because news items scroll off the bottom, and that's how I imagine trying to pry an RSS feed into G+ acting.  Reader let me read stories when it was convenient for me without the fear of everything from three days ago rolling off the bottom.  If Google really does kill off Reader, I'll look for a similar service with browser/phone syncing.  Another item I like is the ability to +1 news items from Reader directly to feed data in G+ and share with my friends.  If I move to another RSS service, I'll likely stop feeding things into G+ if it requires extra steps.
 
What's best about Google Reader is that it it's an RSS reader and it works. So yes, by all means, please integrate the feature of being an RSS reader in other products.
 
The UI is great for skimming a large number of items.  When the UI revamp came along, I ended up using some CSS hacks to get back to the compact view until it was reintroduced. I can go over my "All Items" view with 400+ items in the span of 2-3 cups of coffee then pick at the tabs I spawned throughout the day.

I used to manage almost 100% of my news through Reader, but these days I get a lot from Twitter. What I miss there is the focus. I have to sift through a lot more junk to find good links.

The Android app is also great. I use it on a "phablet" all the time, but I don't like it as much as the web app. I literally use the web app every day. It's the second pinned app after gmail in all my non-mobile Chrome/Chromium instances.

The most important feature for me is it's all tied to my Google account  and always online. I never cared for desktop readers because they're stuck on a single computer I have to hit to get to my status; having all of the state in Google's servers is really the killer feature that puts Reader ahead of any native app.  Going forward, I'll be hosting my own version of newsblur so I can have a similar experience without worrying about the UI shifting unexpectedly or the service simply disappearing.  The app is that important to me.

Thanks for everything.
 
For me most important features of Google Reader are:
- simplicity
- a lot of interesting information sources in one place
- access to "history" of given source
- simple method to distinguish if I read given thing or not
- synchronization over all machines
- lists of titles of items in RSS (on Google+/Twitter/etc you get whole text, sometimes with link, in Google Reader you get title, and if you are interested in this what is inside you click on it)
- Google.com/reader/play (it was nice thing to look on some most fresh things)

Google Reader still is my 3rd app tab in Chrome, after GMAIL and Google+. GMAIL is for e-mails, so long conversations with specific peoples, Google+ is for fast interactions, for looking what people shared, for discussions, and Google Reader is place where I may find something to share on Google+ :-)

Over Internet is a lot of alternatives for Google Reader, but none of those alternatives have all features of Google Reader. 

Google Reader lets its users to control information flow. Instead of unstoppable stream of messages with notifications, you get simple tree with number of items in each branch. Without pictures and so on. 
It is easier to control, and after session with Google Reader you are not afraid that maybe you missed something.
 
The most amazing feature of Reader had already been removed since G+ was brought online, e.g., the original share feature of Reader.

It was very easy to follow interesting people in Reader and check what they were interested in.  Ever since G+ jumped in, the UI interaction complicated a lot, and I just couldn't find out what those people shared.

I felt angry that, as a user, I was forced to use G+ to share.  What was even worse, G+'s share feature confused me a lot, and just didn't organized the information well enough.  Ever since then, I seldom opened neither Reader nor G+.

Maybe G+ have already become way better, I just don't want a try, because it had once hurt me brutally.
 
G+ doesn't have a way to automatically archive or search the full text of articles the way Reader did. One thing I think others may have overlooked is that you are about to delete thousands of blogs that don't exist anywhere else but in Google Reader's archive. If you're asking how G+ can improve, I would say let me import not just OPML but the full text of all my articles from Reader.

PS Oh yeah, and bring back Sort by Magic! No idea why that feature was removed from Reader, it should have been added to G+ to begin with :)
 
What I like about Google Reader is the ability to subscribe to feeds and create tags for grouping and quickly reading articles from various sources. I have to admit the feed subscription process is not super user friendly and the UI for tagging is not perfect but at least it's worked for me for a very long time.

The way I usually work with Google Reader everyday is just visiting http://reader.google.com and then using the "gt" shortcut to open the list of tags and start typing whatever I want to read, for example "news." Then I use "n" and "p" to scroll down or up the list of articles, "o" for opening an article teaser (or hopefully the full article if the publisher is kind enough) and if I need more "v" for visiting the article on its original site.

It would be great if all or part of these features could be integrated into Google+. Thanks for asking this question +Yonatan Zunger 
 
A few things come to mind:

- the sheer speed at which I could skim through all the noise watching for signal (fast UI + j/k keyboard shortcuts on desktop, and volume rocker on mobile)

- centralized read/unread state

- my own personal search index over my subscriptions, including my "read items"

- simple labels (a la gmail) for categorizing the hundreds I to which I subscribe

- I could subscribe to feeds from a simple bookmarklet

Thanks for asking,
-Eric
 
Do me a favor, implement Reader as a section of Google+, all I need are these features:

1) Read/Unread state in the cloud.

2) Google powered, uses my Google account credentials. Not an OAuth service - I hate those.

3) API; Syncs across multiple devices, browsers, available everywhere I am.

4) Browser interface marked as read as I scrolled down - EXCELLENT feature

5) Starred items

6) Sharing items to Google+
 
I have around 350 feeds giving maybe 1000 items a day.  I'll scan the headlines of those  - read maybe a 20th of the items in short text and then may open a 10th of those to get the full article. I'll do this when I have maybe a spare half hour or hour a day. I can do this efficiently on a large screen, and also effectively though slower on an iphone.
I can't see any way or doing anything like this in google plus - looking on the front screen I can see two items.
I can also set up custom google searches as Rss feeds and scan recent updates of those.
Note some of the better iphone readers will download the headlines and data so with no connection or a poor connection I can still keep up to date. Google plus is a very poor substitute for scanning so much information. I confess I don't even know whether it supports handling loads of rss feeds from blogs. I spend more time in google reader than any other google product (the link to this was from a blog entry). Interestingly those others I've found who do are all technically adept. I'm surprised Marissa Meyer hasn't bought something like the old reader to capture the significant technically adept and  influential community for the Yahoo domain.
 
No matter what view, there is a super condensed line-style.
One article per line that contains the title in bold and as much text as fits the line.

And of course it's extremely fast and there are essentially no loading times at all.

Last but not least, there is the syncing, gReader on Android has the 2-way sync I need and pretty much the Google Reader interface optimized for mobile.

-- using Reader since 2005
 
The lack of noise. I feel like RSS readers try to hard to be RSS+Something. RSS+Social, RSS+Discovery. That noise annoys. Reader was just what I subscribed to, and it did it simply and well. 
 
For me, its the fact that it only contained what I actively subscribed to, and it had 100% of the content in as simple a view as possible. Something I hadnt read never went away, but it was easy to dismiss a day, a week, or a month old content en mass. 

I can't stress how central the ability to view the stream of data as either individual threads, a collation of a folder, and then as either a scrollable view of the contents, or as a list, was for Reader. Feedly doesn't even have that and its basically identical in every other way.

Other than that, I'd say my biggest like was that it was completely isolated from the flow of crap the idiots I'm friends with post on Facebook.
 
Everything. Folders, j/k hotkeys, sync API, speed, "send to" integration, stars, search, just to name a few off the top of my head.
 
I use the Google Reader server very frequently via "Reeder" app for iOS and OSX. It leverages the Google Reader server to handle fetching/aggregating of feeds, managing subscriptions, and syncing of read/unread state.  I know this is essentially freeloading, but it's a very useful service I don't see replicated elsewhere.  ("Reeder" itself I use for catching up on a dozen or so news sources, offline, while commuting.)  

I also use the "star" mechanism and some custom python scripts to mark stuff for archiving. (I do the same with twitter, too.)
 
Oh, and no filter or recommendation, I get all of the content with no moderation or decision making on the part of the site.
 
Even if Reader doesn't have the best GUI, I use it since 2005 as a Single Point of Information. It's from Reader that I retrieve almost all relevant information during my day, it's "easy" to search for past and actual information, restricted to what I like to read.
It's like my personal Google. Every time that I find a new website or blog that I appreciate, I link it to my Reader and I'm sure to receive updates without going to there, and it automatically sums to my current best websites.
From there I can also bookmark and share.
Man, Reader is the Web, is the real Internet that everybody look for.
Thanks for asking, best
 
The value for me was being able to quickly scan, archive, and share from thousands of sources OUTSIDE of any specific corporate ecosystem, and being able to sync that data across all of my devices using whatever tools I was most comfortable with.

And then, choosing from my filtered sources, reading the original primary texts within my chosen interface — not jumping around in frames or hopping back and forth between apps.

When Google killed reader's native sharing functions, it made the Reader website itself nearly useless. But I was able to replicate the sharing to some degree with the functions built in to apps like Reeder, and still have my reading activity sync across all my devices and apps. 

Worth noting, this is also how I primarily use Gmail — as a sync mechanism and filter, with my primary consumption through my own chosen third-party mail applications. Given Google's trajectory, I guess this means I had better take a really hard look at my future email options....
 
+Yonatan Zunger wow. I'm only here, at this lame attempt to make us "socialize", because Google FORCED me and because, sir, with all due respect, I want you to know that I'm amazed by the blindness of you all. Google Reader, the old reader I mean, not the comatose being that you're killing, was an elegant weapon for a more civilized age, when the information mattered. I thought Google would understand this. now you're just a Facebook wanna-be
 
For me, because i have ALL the news sites and stuff that I'm interested with in one page, always updated with the new content, and synchronizes with my phone and tablet, i'm sad that reader is closing :(
 
The UI keyboard hotkeys j/k were the number one thing for me. I blast through tons of items very quickly with a glance at the title by hitting "j" until I find something I want to read.
 
I read more than 100 rss fonts from a lot of blogs, Google Reader allows me to do that in an easy and quick way.
 
It provided a central hub for all of my RSS subscriptions and let me sync the unread state between all of my devices.
Ken Yu
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It's not only about greader, it's about the ability to pull the content by choice than being pushed. RSS reader is one's own view of personally interested data out of entire web, although still overwhelmed yet almost the only tool available today as an organized personalized repository of the raw content selected by hand. Without this, we're only victims of social media bombardment, an evolution of all previous generations of marketing engine. Admittedly, there are many things can be done to improve or replace Google reader, but it is the only that is working so far that serves this purpose
 
I use Google Reader as a way to keep up to date on people & projects that matter the most to me. I follow people that don't necessarily post more often than once a week or month. I haven't found a social network that can guarantee that I see all of the updates from that person or thing in the 'inbox' style that Reader does.

I read every bit of content from several sources - and Reader's key role in that is that it has an 'inbox' style counter that allows me to scroll backward and consume content with the knowledge that I'm not missing anything.

Google Reader is the backbone to how I consume content on the internet (besides news), and it has a great supporting app ecosystem behind it. On Android alone, there's Press, gReader Pro, Reader HD, and more that all rely on the Reader backbone. The normal app isn't good enough for me, but 3rd party apps that can help me manage my feeds work great. Google+ has not only hindered 3rd party clients, but has entirely removed the possibility of them existing because of no true write API.

I would use Google+ to accomplish these goals if the products & services I use on a daily basis were supported and used by Plus. They aren't. If RSS was supported, that'd bring about a definite 'maybe,' because of stream controls, but I consume text heavy content the most. The Google+ Apps seem more interested in giving me great photo content, but I'm not interested in all photos. It just doesn't fit me as a user right now (but again, if there was a write API for developers to write clients for, I'd consider it more).

Google+ isn't as active as it could be for me, so I'll call it the "Twitter" effect. I can follow just about every person or project I care about on Twitter, but I can't verify that I've seen all of that person's updates without traveling to their timeline and looking for each post manually. Twitter keeps adding restrictions to 3rd party clients, and I'm beginning to lose the need for Twitter to exist in my life as a result.

I loved + when it was first introduced - and I still love the ideas and principles behind it. I don't like the 'pure' social network that's being created, though. Too many restrictions on it makes it stale.

Thanks for reading.
 
Can someone at Google release the actual numbers showing declining usage? I'm very skeptical of this. And I would like to know if the usage began declining when Google first nuked the social features in Greader in an attempt to integrate it with G+, thereby essentially destroying the vibrant community which had already been built.
 
- The "mailbox" format, and having all the feeds available in one spot. I enjoy the River of News/timeline feel most days from FB/G+/Twitter, but there are 50 or so things that I want to be able to know if  I've seen everything that's been posted. Having them all in one spot, compactly organized, and being able to scan the titles and articles in seconds, is a huge timesaver. 

I didn't always read everything, and used 'Mark all as read' more frequently, but I appreciated the feeling of control when I decided to do that. 

I'd love that feel for things other than RSS feeds, btw. A google+ "mailbox" format (rolled up as circle/friend/item) with one line per item would be a great help, even if I used the stream/timeline view most of the time. Again, it's about feeling in control and knowing that if I want to not miss anything, there's a way to be sure to do that. I don't trust the algorithms to get it right. 

- Search. Being able to search in individual feeds, or across all feeds, was super-useful. 

-Caching of RSS feeds. Many of the sites that I frequented are long gone - but the contents of the blogs live on in the cached copies that Google Reader had.
 
For me I absolutely rely not on Reader itself, but I use it everyday by way of the "Next unread item" bookmarklet
 
The ease of subscribing to an updating service that I don't have to manually check, with no clutter.

I don't necessarily care about comments on every news article I read, unless it's someone in my circles. Google+ and Google Reader fulfill completely different roles in this regard. I don't use Google+ to catch up on news.
 
I liked:

*) That I could see all the stuff I missed in the last week or 2 on sites I look at less often

*) That it marked what I read (and let me unmark as read) so that if I have a list of 30 things and I've only read a few the rest are still marked as unread

*) That it let me mark as read an entire feed for feeds that are updated too often and that I don't keep up on.

*) That it let me look at each feed individually and did not force me to read them all together. I care about some feeds more than others.

*) That I could use it to track seldom updated blogs like blogs from families and friends who are not very prolific or blogs where the author is taking a break for whatever reason but I want to know when she posts something again.

*) That I could organize and group feeds. It's not just one long list. I had groups for "family", "Gamedev", "Art/Design", "News", etc..

*) That it had the history of the entire feed going back for years. Not just the last N items.

*) That it let me view one item at a time and let me expand that one item. I dislike readers that expand all items at once. I like seeing a list of titles and then expanding one at a time. If I want 2 I click the title and it opens in another tab.

I didn't personally use any sharing features though I did manually share many things I found through it.
 
Sharing in Reader before G+ was really nice. It was so light-weight - you could toggle the button without even having any UI pop up. And then you had that inbox-style mark-as-read interface to see what your friends had shared - and you could look at one person at a time, and believe it or not, there were some friends who I payed more attention to than others.
Most of those same people are on G+, but the threshold to share an article is much higher - it's like inviting people into a discussion group, I'm not going to share something here that's only a little bit interesting. Twitter is lighter than G+, but it still feels like when you post something that you're really demanding people to click on it. Delicious is okay for reading, but nobody really looks at it anymore. So I no longer have a tool for collecting stuff that I think you might like to read, but than can wait until you're bored.
 
I don't need a computer curating information for me and displaying what it thinks I want.  I want access to tons of information that is easy to browse through quickly.  Reader gave me a list of 100's of headlines I could quickly read and click on what I liked to dive deeper.  I don't need a format with pictures, I can surmise interest from the headline.  Tell you what, if Reader costs too much money for google, turn it into a subscription based system.  I will pay $5 / month to keep it going
 
I used (still use, for now at least) google reader primarily to scan big batches of posts from feeds that produce large amounts of content constantly (lots of aggregators and a few news sites). I was then able to mark appealing posts as unread and consume or re-share them at my leisure. I've yet to find an alternate reader that lets me perform a similar workflow as efficiently. In a way it's the job adapting to the tool, but it does fulfill a desire I have, so that's not an entirely valid defense.
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Google Reader is without doubt the most efficient way to browse news on the internet. Period.  There are no alternatives.   Google+ isn't the same kind of software and I wouldn't expect it to be.  I love it and can't believe it's going.
 
Para mi reader es uno o el mejor producto de Google. No tiene competencia con nada. Me ahorra mucho tiempo. Puedo leer cientos de webs y blogs de manera organizada, fácil, rápida e intuitiva y compartirlos por mail o en mis círculos de g+ o en twitter. Si deja de existir no existe actualmente un servicio que me brinde las mismas características.
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While Dave Winer, RSS creator/evangelist, complained that Reader fell short of his "river-of-news" ideal, I had it configured and used it exactly that way. Not "mailbox" style - I had no interest in organizing articles by their originating source - but a simple commingled reverse-chronological flow of articles. (Thus, I would often see in close proximity, different sources take on the same news development.

I starred those Items I believed I would want to go back to again.

And of inestimable value to me was the maintenance of state across devices. My visits to Reader during the day would move back and forth from home laptop to smartphone (iPhone) to work laptop to tablet (iPad) and I loved how seamlessly my experience moved from one environment to the next - I never lost my place or wasted time mentally filtering what I had seen before.
 
Third-party apps on various devices syncing state via the same service.
 
Getting web content updates via RSS/ATOM. Tracking changes even if I don't load my reader during the period in which the change iis made. Organizational features. Trends. Syncing across multiple machines. Web client and desktop/mobile integration. Simple.
 
Most essential part of each day.  With a compact list view, can quickly scan all my sources to see if there's anything of interest.  Much more efficient use of time than any other method of news consumption.
 
The most effective aspect of Reader for me is that it allows me to quickly scan through hundreds of headlines without needing to scroll past the actual articles.  It is valuable as a tool to allow me to filter through lots of news and articles in order to identify the handful that are actually interesting.
 
None of the social media sites (twitter, facebook, etc) hide what I've already read. It takes forever to scroll even through a few stories. G+ is nice for having lots of developers use it as a blog, but i find a simple collapsible title format much easier to help me scan through the mountains of feeds i subscribe to. This is one reason why I have not really embrassed G+ (too much effort to sort through and find new interesting stuff).

The other most important feature is that reader syncs all devices nicely. There are many nice desktop RSS readers out there but none synchronize between all of my devices. I find it terrible to have to remember what i read and didn't read when I just want "what's new".
chris r
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The compact views are very valueable.  A lot of other readers try and present the news using tiles/cards but that's not good for efficient news reading.
 
I was hoping I could see my starred items with Google Glass, so I'd remember to talk about interesting things with people. :)

All of the thing I really like have already been mentioned, but let me put strong emphasis on the power features like IFTTT integration with the APIs. All of my starred items currently go into Evernote, and I will sorely miss this functionality.
 
The idea that floats around that somehow G+ (or Twitter, or...) can replace Reader is simply ridiculous. Here are some things that make  Reader unique for me.

Design: Reader has a header toolbar and, a tree of my feeds on the left. The rest of the space is exclusively devoted to information. Compare that to G+, where only a tiny band of the center of my screen is actual content, and more often than not is taken up by photos.

Usability: Reader has a compact list of headlines. The headline allows me to determine quickly if I'm interested or not.

Usability: Reader keeps track of what I've already read and hides it for me. Each time I open Reader I see a list of what is new, and I can choose what to read.

Ubiquity: Reader works equally well from the native browsers of an iPad, a laptop and an Android device. I've used it in all three, and the web interface is good enough and also integrates with the browser tabs. Reader is always in one of my permanently opened tabs.

Usablity: with device specific apps, you end up with an app where clicking on an item opens a single window browser where you cannot open more tabs if you are interested, or do a quick Google search in another tab. Or open a link in another tab without losing the context of what you are reading. Moreover, Reader does not nag me to download one of those apps in iOs/Android.

Ubiquity: with Reader I can read on my laptop, go to my tablet and pick up where I left,

Usability: Reader allows me to mark a whole page of items as "read", and filter for unread items so I don't have to navigate pages and pages of content.

Structure: headlines, like on newspapers, allow the reader to quickly determine the subject of an article and decide if it is worth reading or not.

Usability: I often "star" articles that I may want to read again in the future but don't deserve a permanent place in my browser favorites. Plus, I have them available no matter which browser I'm using.

If someone asks me what they can do to improve G+ so that it matches the perfect balance on usability and performance, my answer is simple and easy: you don't need to do that, you already have Reader.
 
My usage was:

2-3x a day, use the web view or iOS app (Byline in my case). Start at the top (latest unread post). Read all until I had nothing left to read. Move on to other things. It's like an inbox.

If I'm offline (or rather, seldom connected), I'd sync up, read offline, then sync up again when I had a connection.

I never shared from here to any platform (G+, FB, TW). I seldom starred. On iOS, I push to Instapaper a lot. I use Recommended Items when I'm bored, but I don't usually find much interesting stuff in there.

I just hit J a lot, I guess :)

I read news (loop, daring fireball etc, mostly short form); Dev blogs which post infrequently; Comics (daily, usually); Flickr pics from contacts; articles from the likes of Matt Taibibi on Rolling Stone. Basically, anything I wanted to follow, but not load the page up every time. 

I have around 190 feeds, which I've had (and added to) since before GR existed. I churn thru around 75-100 posts a day, depending on the day. It's a core part of my information ingestion.

I avoided any major news service (CNN, BBC etc), as the volume of "care" to "don't care" was way too high.

For me, it was my news TIVO. Things I didn't  want to miss, even if I left it for a week. BBC/CNN etc would float things up in other media if it was important.

Google Plus could replace this, if RSS items came in as posts. Not sure how the UI would work, but hey, thats your job :) Once it's out of my normal view of "things I've read / actioned", I'm done with it. Adding Instapaper support into the G+ iOS app would also help hugely here.

FTR, I enjoyed using it. Thanks to those who created and maintained it Google. I enjoy using G+ over Facebook, tho it lacks the people I have there, so I need both. Thats slowing changing. Twitter vrs ADN is the same - I prefer ADN, but the people are not there yet.
 
Sync (via NetNewsWire) and moblie feeds (via Reader) kept up-to-date.
 
The big advantage of Reader over say Twitter or Flipboard or G+ is its asynchronous nature. You can follow all the people/sites you want to without the pressure of reading everything today in real time. 

I never use the default Reader view that combined all feeds into one. I pick one of the feeds, check it out, then move to another one. Sometimes a few weeks would go by before I got back to a particular source, and then I would check it out. There would be dozens of posts but I can quickly scan and find relevant posts, then spend a lot of time gorging on all its content.

Twitter, G+ and Flipboard want me to use them all the time or I could miss important stuff. 
 
I found Reader to be the best way to get up-to-date items from the RSS feed of Google News for specific search terms.
 
What was really cool with Google Reader was its minimalistic approach, the ability to synchronize my feeds through all my devices, and to display only blog developed content. 

I do not find it on Google+ now. Too many noise, and a too heavy interface for instance.
 
Two thing: First Google Reader used an inbox model, so it was easy to make sure you hadn't missed anything if you wanted too, as opposed to the stream model of google+, twitter and facebook.

Second it was useful as a back end service to keep my feeds and read articles synced across multiple devices and apps. It served like an IMAP for feed readers so that if the default UI wasn't good for some people there was an easy way to use something else (Like Reeder)
chris r
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Yonatan Zunger, you're the only google contact I know.  Please put in a good word! There must be something you can do to stop this!
 
I used google reader to read rss feeds. 
 
I'm not interested in what's 'trending' or any approach that can be said to be socially based. I prefer the simple subscribe approach as presented in Reader. I just tried to find the equivalent in G+ and couldn't. I am seriously confused by those postings that imply G+ is a useful substitute for reader. Perhaps. But in as much as there doesn't seem to be a migration path, I'll pass for the moment.
 
1. Bringing all news/updates from dozens of websites, without necessity to open each one
2. Having ability to load only valuable information, not spending mobile traffic for ads, background images or sound etc.
3. Having ability to hide read articles, so I could estimate how much unread items I have
4. Lots of possibilities for categorization of all incoming feeds
5. Nice clients for offline reading, allowing to cache thousands of unread articles - good for reading in airplane.
6. Absence of social aspects: sometimes, we have something to read, that we do not want others to know, that we're reading. Reader feed is yours by default, you shouldn't care, that your interests will accidentaly became public
 
Pure aggregation.  I pick the feeds and get everything they send.  
Organized by sender.  
No third-party filtering, recommendation, ranking, etc. (Contrast Prismatic, which I also use.)
Decoupled the posting time and rate from my reading time and rate. 
Synchronization across my many devices.
Simple interface, keyboard, no mouse.

Put together: I read less than 1% of the stuff presented, but I decide what and when to read.  Reader lets me do this efficiently.  And if you're going to waste time, you might as well do it efficiently.
 
In terms of the social aspect, the absolute best thing about Google Reader over Google Plus was it was trivial to keep up to date with comments on shares and to ensure you saw everyone's shares.  Both of these have been completely broken in G+, which means all my friends stopped sharing, which means I've lost all discovery for new sites/feeds.
 
it's not about only reader. it's about trust. you already closed wave, notebook and igoogle. i used these services. i do not trust google anymore and if you really will close reader i go to facebook.
 
Короче, тут комментарий о том что google reader шикарен. Ознакомьтесь со статистикой, товарищ Зунгер. Куплю я этот ваш гугл и гугл+ закрою)))
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Google is in the unique position of owning the historical archives of many RSS feeds, including those of defunct sites. There's a ton of content that has not otherwise been preserved.

All I'd ask of Google is that they release this information in its entirety, so other services can pick up where Reader left off.
 
Oh and the other thing that made Google Reader so much better - full text shares.
 
- I need the ability to privately collect Google+ posts by adding a star and / or  the appropriate tag to the item (including the ability to add my own note/comment to the collectable item).
- The ability to follow RSS / Atom feeds.
 
Because its simple, useful and minimalists features makes it great for reading in Android. 
 
I like how so many people are so upset about losing a feature that I never knew existed until everyone started complaining about losing it
 
1. Google Reader was something I trusted to stay (forever).

2. Google Reader works like an archive or like a personal search engine. I have years of years of interesting content in my Google Reader. The content (from the RSS feeds) was easy to collect. I find it more useful and easer to use than creating CSE, custom search engines with Google. And in contrast to CSE it works reliable to see which news sources were first to post the news.

3. It is helpful that you can give other apps permission to access your Google Reader account. Everything is synched, like with emails. And it is easier than uploading OPML files to other services.
 
That's a very strange question. What do you expect to hear? The reader was the reader! It does accumulate various rss feeds and was gaving me ability to read them all in one place. Design was bright, clean and fast (for desktop and mobile). Read/unread status was good. Nothing unneded was there. The feature with number of unread topics in page title was increadibly useful, alternate services doesn't has this one (give them time I think). That was sharp tool to do its only task - read rss feeds and do it from various devices and places - nothing more, nothing less, and it did it good.
 
Well, we used it for RSS. What else do you expect to hear? It was an excellent RSS aggregator.
 
Keyboard navigation made it easy to scan a lot of posts and skip the ones I wasn't interested in.

Feed organization was flexible. A feed could be placed in multiple folders; I could sort just programming feeds, or just blog posts, and there could be overlap between these folders.

Sort by "Magic" worked pretty well.

The UI was stable, for the most part ("Share" button, anyone?). They didn't mess with a good thing, and didn't try to cram in "integration" with a bunch of other Google products.

It Just Worked™. Feeds stayed updated, presumably following redirects in the background without being noisy about it.
 
It was about reading content from all over the web, rather than stuff that had explicitly been posted on Twitter, or Facebook, or Google+. You got to consume the web on your terms, and get a feed of all the new content from all the sites you loved. You could then share that content, and even pipe it elsewhere if you wanted.

That's completely neat.
 
I use Reader to subscribe to a large number of feeds, most of which I have no expectation of reading in full.  Some feeds I focus on in detail but most I just want to quickly scan for things that look interesting.  To that end Reader had these qualities that I appreciated and have not found duplicated anywhere else:

1)  Compact, dense view of headlines.  No pictures, no 'magazine' layout, no wasted white space, a font size that is readable but not so huge I need to sit on the other side of the room to read it.  Reader's recent horrendous UI change broke this badly but it has slowly recovered.

2)  Ability to organize feeds hierarchically however I choose.  I like the left side tree view.  I know it's a 20th century UI but it works.

3)  Ability to navigate easily through my feeds to quickly scan headlines.  I don't want articles marked as read just because I happen to have read the headline.  Reader does this correctly, other aggregaters I've tried fail on this.

4)  Keyboard shortcuts for EVERYTHING.  If I have to take my hands away from the home row then the application is broken.  Reader is better at this than most others.

I'd never really used the social features of Reader that were removed a while back but I can see their value and why their removal caused such a fuss.
 
Simply it integrated well within my browser, used the same Google account as all my other stuff, and  it was free. What else would I want?
 
1. Clean and simple to get information. I get what i want.
2. Cool UI. No alternatives! It has very comfortable interface.
3. Cross platform sync. I got my news on all of my computers and devices.
4. Google is my favorite, i have mail, checkout, android, blog..i had news. But know i don't know. What if tommorow gmail will be closed.
 
I truly liked the VIM shortcuts, and clean simplicity.

Not a complaint but it also had an assumed stability when I started using it, bc it was Google and not a fly by night company.  This confidence is forever shaken.
 
The main thing for me was that unlike twitter and facebook and G+, which rely on other people finding interesting things and telling me about them, I was self-curating my own collection of blogs I was interested in. From things that were updated every hour to friends who only updated every few months, I could manage them all, and see, individually if there was anything new. 
I never had to worry that I had missed an important update from a friend's blog, amidst the hundreds of posts a day from Metafilter, because I could see them separately, and I could mark Metafilter as read without affecting my friends folder. 
I can understand the attraction of having software manage what you see, as with the various social networking sites,trying to decide what is and isn't important to you and showing you only the good stuff, but the reality of that never works out the way it's supposed to. The classic story I tell is that Facebook managed to not tell me that a particular distant friend of mine had a) come out as a lesbian b) gotten pregnant with twins c) gotten engaged and d) planned a wedding. I only found out about all of those things when I saw wedding photos on her feed. It did, however, tell me that she's annoyed when people cut their toenails on the subway. That's not how I would have prioritized those things, you know? 
Reader left all of that in my control. I decided whether I wanted to skip a bunch of posts. I decided which feeds to read in their entirety. All it did was provide the data and a super-easy interface for me to make those decisions, rather than trying to make those decisions for me. 
 
Reader is providing compact and reliable tool to filter and consume big amount of news that are generated every moment in world in single feed with constant design. It allow fast and easy sharing of interesting articles with friends, saves incredible amount of time.
 
I'm actually surprised you've nearly hit 500 comments, are preparing for a second round, and have not had to delete [all that many?] comments as threatened.  Kudos to you, sir!

And so anyway, in other news%&`+'${`%&NO CARRIER
 
As a reader, I like RSS in general because I want to be in charge of the news/info sources I get information from.  If I have a blog I like, or if there's a news source I respect, I want to know when the updates happen.  I don't want  hunt through updates from my friends on social networks about what they're up to to find this information, and I don't want a social network's algorithms deciding that I'm not really interested in this information despite the fact that I've gone out of my way to like/follow/+1 it or whatever.

I only rarely used Google Reader in and of itself, but it served as the syncing backbone for the apps I do use.  They'll all still work after Google Reader shuts down, but it will be very annoying to, say, read a bunch of items on my phone and not find them marked as read when I get back to my computer.  I realize that Google has no obligation to support me in this way, since they're not getting anything out of me, but that is one of the things I valued about the service.

As a publisher, I worry that there is no other system for getting updates to my readers as efficient and as consistent as RSS, and Google Reader is the RSS reader for many of them.  I just checked my Google Analytics log and found that I still get more traffic from Google Reader than I get from Twitter, and almost as much as I get from Facebook.  Oh, and an order of magnitude more than I get from Google Plus.  (I put links on all these services whenever I update.)
 
I haven't read through more than like 20% of the comments here, so I don't know if anyone's touched on this yet: Reader and RSS in general are better than most social media I've seen (e.g. both Google+ and Twitter) for following sources where I want to read absolutely everything in order. Webcomics and serial fiction come to mind, but there are also a few writers that I want to follow to that level.

In terms of the features that support this in Reader, the most important are that it was a feed where:

a) Nothing is dropped, ever. I can mark something as read, or delete it, or whatever, but nothing will ever be filtered out as "excess noise". This is similar to the "Notifications" feature I noticed when I just logged in to Google+ through a browser for the first time in a month, but the ad copy is all wrong - this isn't about people I care about more, but about sources with a higher interest level per post.

b) My place is saved - unless I specifically ask for "all items", I won't ever see the same thing twice. Especially for news sources, it's a real pain to spend 5 minutes reading halfway through a story before I realize that it's actually the same one I read yesterday, not just a new commentary on the same topic.
 
Being able to sort quickly through full entries with the "J" and "space" keys.
 
Quick overview of new articles (blogs, posts, etc) with possibility to read the original source in one key press.
 
+Yonatan Zunger The value is that I can get news from multiple sources, organize them the way that I want to, and can create my own feeds and add my own data without relying on a non-standard methodology to do so.  I don't need anyone's permission to create an rss.xml file and I have the inherent permission (usually) of the site exposing their RSS feed to me to use and read their data.  Social media is really sloppy at this.  It is too real time and you can't organize things in a non-social way. I can customize what I want to see, how I want to see it, and it is always updating and available.
 
This question is a bit mind-boggling, if you have to ask I'm not sure you understand what an RSS reader is. But since you're asking in good faith...

The main thing I use Google Reader for is making sure I read new articles on periodically updated websites, typically blogs. I can subscribe to the RSS feed for a blog that only updates every week or month or year, like say the official Google Reader blog (http://googlereader.blogspot.com/), and then be sure I will see an important article when it is posted there.

The workflow for me with Reader is mostly like an email program; I get a queue of messages and I process every single one. It is not like Google+ or Facebook or Twitter or some other stream of updates where I'm happy to sample the stream just once but not see everything.

I never used Google Reader's share function. My "sharing" is done via Pinboard, and then dlvr.to automatically reposts that to Twitter and Facebook. I'd share links to Google+ too but Google+ doesn't allow me to post via an automated API.
 
1. I pick the RSS feeds that go in it (G+, Currents, etc. can't do that).
2. It shows both the title and (typically all, depending on the feed) the content.  I don't have to click each item to see if its worth reading; I can just scan the headline (sorts out maybe 50%), the top paragraph (sorts out maybe another 30%), and then if I want to pore over a thing I can control-click it to hit the source website.  (G+, Twitter, etc., are terrible at this.  Tiny summaries are typically useless and clicking every single "expand" is a huge time waste, especially compared to keyboard shortcuts.)
3. Extremely information-efficient display.  No wasted vertical and very little wasted horizontal.  The feed item titles are bolded and a bit larger, the feed text is inline, and a feed item has a subtle, compact, but noticable box surrounding it.  Couple this with the feature that narks things as "read" as I scroll past and I can skim a huge amount of information efficiently.  G+ can fit approximately two stories on-screen at once, and on top of that gives you no higher-level view like Reader's folder list with unread counts on the left.
4. Excellent management of folders.  I can go on vacation, come back, and mark the whole folder of time-sensitive stuff (movies and concerts this week, yard sale notices, etc.) as read, leaving the world news alone.  I can also do things like immediately see if a folder like "server alerts" from my ISP has unread items in it and hit those before I check the local news.  Etc.
5. Chronological order display.  Reading serials (comics, multi-part stories, etc.) is horrendous in a reverse-chronological system like G+.
6. The option to only display unread.  With twitter, G+, etc., I have to scroll down until I think I've found the last message I remember reading.  UGH.

These three things are really the crux of it for me.  The rest, below, are just niceties for me, though I understand other people use them a lot more.

7. Simple way to tag and star things for later search: "hey, this is a useful programming trick; I'll need this next month when we start X.  Best to star it now for easy finding later."
8. Search old feed items.  G+'s search is awful, since it insists by default on searching the whole ecosystem and not just my subscriptions.

Thanks for asking for our input about what we love(d) about Reader.  :)
 
Feed organization. I read articles by feed. Mark all as read. Auto "read" status after viewing. 
 
+Nelson Minar I know what an RSS reader is; my question is why people liked this RSS reader so much. What was good about it? And your answer about workflow was very useful.
 
The main pro's of Google Reader: 
1. It was doing the job he meant to do - provided the news from a lot of sources. No need to browse a lot of web sites - just keep a single web page opened and you are informed about everything around, that you would like to know.
2. No ads, simple and comfortable interface. 
3. Categorization of information, search in the feeds. 
4. Absence of the close integration with the damned G+ - small "Share" button is more than enough. People do not need a single interface, like G+ for everything in the world - reading mails, sociazlizing, travelling, pooping, etc. It's much more comfortable to have the specialized small app or service to suite your needs than a big complex universal toy. That's why the idea of integration some features from the Reader into G+ will fail. 
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Я собирал и группировал интересные для меня RSS каналы и читал свежие новости во всех сферах моих интересов. 
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1/ Cross-device synch of articles, state of read
2/ Quickly scan a screen full of headlines, mark the ones I like to be read later in Instapapeer
3/ Read articles in Instapaper
4/ Easy sharing - but G+ can do that, and the device apps are nicer and faster than the 3rd party Reader apps

If you married Instapaper to a dense article headline scan UX, and also marked the articles with my G+ friends that already read them, I'd' start using G+ instead of FB because suddenly the stuff I really want to share becomes trivially easy to do, and I won't send people stuff they've already seen. FB is a walled garden from this stuff
 
It was an excellent way to basically create your own customized, simple, and easily digestable stream of information you custom made for yourself and your interests. It was/is still the best news aggregator of its type. If it does migrate to G+, please don't change it much. 
 
Oh, and I welcome the use of vi navigation keys, that made things quick, on a PC
 
1) It's faster than anything I've tested
2) It was way better than Bloglines, that I used for a couple of years before having a friend recommend I migrate to GReader
3) The fact that I could easily categorise
4) The fact that it wasn't social
5) I could open this up any time I wanted, and get my custom streams
6) This became my PERSONAL web, the web I could go to without having to waste time going to websites - a compound little nook of the web, where I have my own unfiltered blog access, nicely categorised.
7) The fact that it is UNFILTERED
8) I used this to propagate information to my other networks and forums
9) It became part of my morning workflow, tarpit coffee, GReader, breakfast
10) Viewing by feed, mark all as read.
11) Incredibly decent OPML support
12) Zero downtime experienced, ever
13) Email to friends - used quite often - didn't much use the plus one feature here
14) Searchability of my own personal archive (not everyone else's, not my friends' networks) - I'm thinking this is probably the major clincher for me - I could go back to stuff that was posted in 2009 for a specific topic.
 
+Yonatan Zunger If you want to know why so many people are panicked about Google Reader specifically going away, it's because it became the de facto standard and only solution for multi-device feed synching.  The tech savvy are all switching back and forth among phones and computers and tablets now and this is a hugely helpful way to manage the information that we're consuming.  Maybe Google never set out to be in this position or wanted everyone to rely on them, but by offering a free of charge and useful service with an open API, they did create the rug that's now being yanked out from under a great many people.
 
+Yonatan Zunger It foremost feature was just the ability to plow through tons of material efficiently. Second, it acted like a form of browsing history. Some browsing I just don't care to remember. But, when I'm in Reader, the starring, sharing, analytics, and read state history allow me to go back to stuff I found most useful, discover patterns in my browsing that I wasn't aware of, refer back to something I may have shared or starred (like a logged long term memory). hope that helps. Thanks for all you do. 
 
Sorting: sometimes oldest-first is what you want, e.g. for following comic rss feeds that build a story over time

Layout: IMHO, G+, in a world of mostly at least 1080p widescreen monitors, wastes a sad amount of space. Reader would happily fill whatever width I chose to make my browser window with the text I was looking to read. Also, the ability to read headlines-only in collapsed mode was huge (see next)

Read/Unread tracking: My workflow was commonly to scan collapsed headlines, having them mark-as-read as I went through, and then mark-unread to save interesting topics for later

Starring: G+ approximates this with the ability to +1, but somehow (and I can't really identify, perhaps it is just familiarity) it does not feel as convenient

Sharing: One of my favorite features of reader was the sharing that Google killed long ago now (2+ years?). I had a lot of "friends" through Reader that would never think of using G+, and thus, whom I can no longer share with or receive articles from. The nice thing about reader is that it wasn't "social" it was pure, specific, sharing of articles of interest. (SNR stays far lower than G+ or Twitter where users tend to "over-share").

Podcasting: This is really a sub-feature of sorting and read/unread tracking, but for the life of me I can't figure out how G+ can be used as a podcast aggregator

Simple Organization: G+ is focused on social, reader was focused on information - these things are not the same. Attempting to map the informational concept of topics (folders, tags) into the social construct of "circles" doesn't work well (that I can see). If I am a person, and I publish posts about multiple orthogonal topics, what circle do you put me in? Additionally, instead of setting up blogs for each topic with an RSS feed for each and letting users subscribe, what do I do? do I need to select the right circles each time I post an update? It is still not clear to me how this would functionally work...

Trends/Statistics: Finding stale RSS feeds, most active RSS feeds, how often I read items from a feed or overall - these are all very useful and non-present in g+ (reader/view/#trends-page)
 
+Yonatan Zunger My apologies for the impolite statement; I didn't realize you were asking specifically about Google Reader. When Chris and Ben et al launched Reader the primary reason it became popular was that it was free and that it was server-hosted. Bloglines was the main server competition, everything else was a desktop client, and Reader had a better UI. Reader kept having a better UI for a long time, long enough to outlast all the other major RSS readers until it assumed a vast majority of marketshare. That only got disrupted when mobile because a thing and you started seeing a new crop of mobile apps like Reeder.app that used Google Reader as a backend.

So I'd say the main value of Google Reader in the last year has been the very fast centralized feed crawler, along with its API that made it easy to put more modern UIs on top of Google's RSS reader infrastructure. I have no idea what lessons there'd be in that for Google+, sorry.
 
The best use case for me is keeping up with intermittent content. Blogs that update rarely (and are all the better for it) will be missed in the wash of more "social" news (Twitter/G+/Facebook/Tumblr/etc.)  

Social news is about curated discovery. But once I've discovered it, I want to keep up with it. That's what Reader gave me. It's also why it will be nearly impossible to cram it into a different, more social platform.
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The reason Google Reader was so important as my default RSS reader was b/c it's apart of the Google ecosystem and the functionality I wanted. The default mobile version is also my homepage on my phone browser. It's where I go first in my browsers and where I spend most of my time. And everything Jon Dubovsky said.
 
If I could import my OPML from Reader, and get rid of all the unwanted stuff like ‘popular on G+’ & the such, I would not look back.  I would also need to know what is still unread.

As it is, I only use G+ on the thin hope people will migrate here from Facebook, at least once I learn to control what is shown me as strictly as there; but to my head nothing could be farther away then the current Reader experience I enjoy.
 
I don't subscribe to "topics", I subscribe to particular blogs I'm interested in. G+ doesn't let me do that, Facebook doesn't let me do that, but Google Reader did. I don't want to go to each website, I don't want a silly notifications thing with my web browser, but when I get a few free moments, I want to go catch up on some blog posts. Moreover, I don't want to miss any. I liked Reader because it allowed me to treat the posts like email, letting them disappear once I was finished with each, and a star meant I flagged it for later reference. I don't care about sharing the posts, just consuming them.

My usage was obviously a simple, basic use case, but it's not one anyone else seems to understand. I'm not looking for an engine that will find new content (I can find my own content, thanks) or the ability to tell other people what I find interesting (I can click the +1 or Like button, thanks). I don't want to twitter these people or see everything their brain dumps out. I just want a place where I can keep caught up on posts of a few blogs I like, but there are too many to visit each separately. Meanwhile, I don't care if you slap contextual ads around them or use them to know my interests. It's not really a lot to ask.
 
For me, the following features made it indispensable:
* Particular sources available via RSS that are not available as Twitter feeds, etc. Subscribing to the same sources on Twitter/FB is not equivalent, because those feeds are transient, and I often miss announcements on twitter/FB because I don't login on many days. 
* RSS reader is a better place to read stuff and bookmark/star to read later than twitter is. Twitter favs are not searchable, etc. and Twitter stream is too ephemeral.
* Other news readers (esp. on mobile) are too cluttered with pretty icons/tiles etc, so the information density is too low.
* Read/unread, star, sharing, syncing across platforms (web/mobile) are all very useful features that I use a lot.
* Good searchability, ability to organize into folders, etc.
* I liked the layout: headlines, expandable to full text. Easy to scan quickly and decide what to actually read more carefully.
* Mobile browser-based version has a very nice feature where I can look at 15 or so items at a time and mark them all as read.
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Honestly I use Google+ after read all the feeds on Google Reader. Lets say as a complement. None of my friends use Google+ so... I didn't use it as a Social Network. I cannot switch to Google+ leaving Google Reader behind because, as my friends, the websites I just to follow over RSS aren't on Google+. Another point to look at is the space to read on Google Reader is significantly bigger than the <div> where we can put info on Google+ so I can say Google+ isn't reader friendly (Good for multimedia content, but not for large piece of text). Finally... the icons, chat bar, and other content looks so damn big on Google+, I'm not a grandpa who needs everything so big to see it, happens to me the same on all desktops on Linux (Gnome, Unity, KDE) everything looks bigger than apps on MacOS or Windows versions.
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Thanks to all of you! The feedback on this thread has been incredible; it’s been lengthy, detailed, and uniformly constructive. There have also been a lot of repeated patterns in it: people talking about the speed of the UI, the ways it makes it easy to scan through lots of textual content, the way it keeps track of your read state and preserves it across devices and across other programs, the kinds of content available, and several more. I’m going to be reading through the replies carefully and thinking hard about the ways we can integrate these ideas into Google’s products in the future.

I know that many of you are unhappy that Reader is going away, and I’m sad to see it go too -- so I hope that we can take the things which made it great and bring them to you in many more places, and create an experience that does all the things you’ve loved.

Thank you all for your support, and for taking the time to give such detailed feedback.

(BTW, I know that many of you are coming to this thread after it’s filled up, and still have feedback you want to leave. I’ve decided not to open a second thread, because 500 comments -- over 53,000 words! -- is already a lot for me to read through, and it seems that we’ve uncovered the key points already. So if you want to leave further feedback, the best way to do it is by going through the comments and +1’ing the ones you want to emphasize as well. Please don’t mention me separately on other threads unless there’s something really different on them. Thanks!)