You can now start counting the days down to the end of Google Reader and be thankful that Feedly launched its own separate web service to fill the gap. Feedly is what I’ll be using come July 1, 2013 but for those who are still looking for an RSS reader, time is running out. Fortunately, the options aren’t limited and FlowReader is yet another RSS reader service that you could switch to once Google Reader closes its doors. It’s not just a feed reader though; in addition to letting you import your feeds from Google Reader, the service can also connect with your Twitter and Facebook accounts, allowing you to view updates from each. Users can also post to Facebook and Twitter from within FlowReader simultaneously. It also has a ‘save for later’ feature that allows you to mark stories in your feed for later reading.
Users can sign up for a free FlowReader account or use their Google, Facebook, or Twitter IDs to connect to the service. One thing you need to know before you decide how you sign up for the service is that it cannot import your feeds from an XML file; it can only import from Google Reader. When importing, your folder structure is maintained but all other things like stories you’ve starred in the past are lost.
FlowReader has an excellent and very clean interface. Click a story’s title and it will open in a new tab. Stories cannot be read in FlowReader itself, and will always open at their source. If you move your mouse over the time a post was published, a bookmark button appears, clicking which will add the story to your ‘Saved for later’ list. This feature is slightly buggy at the moment though, as per our tests.
New feeds can be added directly to a folder by clicking the little arrow next to it. Alternatively, you can go to FlowReader’s settings and add them from there. There doesn’t appear to be any way to add a new folder though, nor can you view individual feeds in a folder.
The ‘Social’ tab lets you view your Facebook and Twitter feeds once you’ve connected the respected accounts. You can view the feeds individually by selecting the relevant tab, or both of them side-by-side by selecting the Social tab.
Last but not the least, FlowReader lets you post to Facebook and Twitter. Click the ‘Post new’ button at the top and compose your update. It does not count down characters for you, so you will have to be careful about the character limit yourself when posting to Twitter.
FlowReader is a pretty basic feed reader service that focuses more on social media feeds than RSS. The fact that you cannot even preview a story is rather disappointing, as it’s something that even the barest of feed readers allow you to do. It is still a matter of personal preference and for those who like bare and minimal, FlowReader is a good enough option.