Feedly: Bring Your Feeds Home
(Hat tip to Louis Gray for bringing this service to my attention)
After a long phase of private alpha testing, Edwin Khodabakchian today released an open beta of Feedly, a “more social and magazine-like start page for Firefox 3.” It’s release is, it would seem, timed perfectly in synch with the release of the final version of Firefox 3 tomorrow.
What Does It (and Doesn’t It) Do?
At its most basic core, Feedly is an RSS reader that lives locally in your Firefox browser as an extension (sorry – no other browsers are supported at this time). As its tag line promises, this feed reader functionality is implemented in a very stylish, magazine like layout by default. If you wish to do so, however, you can switch to a more traditional full-feed or summary view of your feeds, as well as an image only mode. Just like in Google Reader, you can skip forward and backwards using the now standard ‘j’ and ‘k’ keyboard shortcuts.
Feedly is highly integrated into the Google universe. Feedly synchronizes directly with Google Reader (in both ways) and imports contacts and sends messages from and through Gmail. From Google Reader, it also picks up your friend’s Shared Items. You can also send recommendations directly to your Twitter feed. Other options are to save items for later, and recommend items to friends (not specific friends, just your whole crew).
Besides the Google services and Twitter, Feedly also imports contacts and feeds from My Yahoo, FriendFeed, Yahoo Mail, Netvibes, Bloglines and your Firefox bookmarks.
Besides being an RSS reader and Twitter client, Feedly is also a recommendation engine, not unlike Toluu. In my tests, I have found it to work very well. All the feeds it suggested turned out to be quite relevant and interesting.
One very cool feature is the option to annotate items (see screenshot on the left). It allows for collaborative commenting on specific sections of an items.
Alana Taylor over on Mashable described it as competing with iGoogle and Netvibes. I’m not sure I fully agree there. As of right now, both iGoogle and Netvibes are far more flexible in what they can do with their widget platforms and the layout of their homepages. Feedly is – as the name suggests – completely focused on RSS feeds right now.
While you can import your friends from GMail, Feedly does not show you your inbox (though I wouldn’t be surprised if that was implemented in a later version).
But What About Comment Fragmentation and Advertising Revenue?
As for comments themselves – the Feedly developers did a very smart thing and completely offloaded them to the original site – thereby circumventing the dreaded ‘distributed commenting’ discussion. It should theoretically display the comments already on the post and then take you to the site to comment youself
, but right now, it only worked about half the time and when it worked, it only displayed trackbacks (things seem to be working fine now).
The Feedly team also smartly left a section on the top of your feed’s page open for you to feature your own advertisers. I think this is a very smart move, though it doesn’t work with Google’s AdSense, which most bloggers probably use. Instead, it would work best if a blogger has a private advertising deal or two running on his blog. Still – I think this shows that the Feedly team has taken a lot of the recent criticism of similar products to heart and is thinking about ways to help out bloggers – something I applaud them for doing.
Feedly makes for a great homepage – especially if you already live a very feed-centric online life. There are some things I would like it to do, such as allowing for a more river-of-news style of reading feeds, but overall, I think this is a killer product. It’s fast, pretty, and makes for a great way to quickly scan your feeds in the morning. It doesn’t rival Google Reader or desktop feed readers like FeedDemon just yet, but it’s going to be more Firefox homepage for the foreseeable future.