WALLED GARDEN AOL has been quick to jump into a niche that Google abandoned by unveiling its own RSS Reader service on Monday.
The service is available in a beta release ahead of its production release next Monday, the same day that Google will retire Google Reader.
The INQUIRER managed to get access to the beta service, though we're not entirely sure how we managed it. Still, now we're in, we can tell you that AOL Reader offers a slick and nippy - if a little confusing at first - alternative to Google's Reader service.
AOL Reader lets users import Subscriptions from Google Reader, and improving on its soon to be gone rival lets users browse news in List, Card, Full and Pane view, in a dark or light theme. We opted for the Card view, which gives each story Star, Mark as Unread and Share buttons, which means you can share stories straight to Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google+ or via email.
AOL has developed the service with a bunch of shortcuts. Hitting 'r' for example will refresh Reader, while hitting 'a' will open a box for users to add a new subscription. While these shortcuts might take a while to get used to, we found they made browsing more enjoyable than on Google's alternative. We also found it was faster to use than Google Reader, as an added bonus.
While AOL might have promptly pushed out a decent Google Reader alternative, it looks set to face some stiff competition.
Facebook apparently is planning to release Facebook Reader, its own take on Flipboard's magazine style app. Digg is also set to launch its stab at Google Reader this week, which will be available in both web and mobile versions. µ