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Now With 3 Million New Users, Google Reader’s Heir Apparent Feedly Relaunches On iOS & Android, Reveals How It Plans To Make Money
Feedly, the RSS feed-reading client that is rapidly becoming the one to beat following the planned Google Reader shutdown, is today launching new versions of its Feedly Mobile client for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android phones and tablets. This update, built-in response to user feedback, is focused on improving search, productivity, discovery and sharing. But the feature, which is likely to appeal to ex-Google Reader users the most is the new “title only” mode, designed to make headline scanning more efficient.
The startup says it has now seen 3 million new users sign up for its service in the wake of Google’s announcement that it’s shuttering Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Prior to this, Feedly had grown its own user base organically to 4 million users since its founding in 2008, to give you some perspective on how rapid this growth has been.
“We are thankful that so many Reader refugees have selected Feedly as their new home, and we will strive to make it the best home we can for them,” says co-founder Cyril Moutran. “Our main priorities over the next 90 days are to keep the service up, listen to new users for suggestions, and keep adding smaller features weekly.”
Feedly has been moving quickly to capitalize on the attention Google’s announcement brought the company, which has benefitted Feedly in terms of app store domination in particular, where its native clients have been topping the charts. The company has also been reassuring users that not only did it expect the Google Reader shutdown, it already had a transition plan in place: all you have to do is sign up for Feedly before Reader is gone, and you’ll be set.
Clearly, many people have followed that advice. But today’s changes are more about keeping those users around for the long haul.
For starters, Feedly has revamped its search and discovery engines, a mostly under-the-hood improvement which improves the speed of searching, and brings over 50 million RSS feeds to the search engine’s index. A “smart topic completion” feature helps you find new feeds faster on mobile’s small-screened interface, as it means less typing is involved. Meanwhile, Feedly is now tapping into its community’s behavior to improve its search algorithms – recommending feeds based on popularity. This feature is designed to improve over time, the company says, noting that the more you use Feedly to search, categorize, follow and favorite feeds, the better the feature becomes.
Another new section called “Must Reads” allows you to track your most-watched feeds without the need for special folders. This now appears in the sidebar navigation next to the “Today” and “Saved for Later” sections. Moutran clarifies that, for now, this section is meant for personal organization purposes only – it’s a way to have quick access to the feeds you “absolutely want to see all updates from,” he says. However, he adds that Feedly might use this data in the future for search engine relevance improvements, but only in aggregate; it won’t show others which posts you’ve indicated are “Must Reads,” that is.
Sharing improvements have also been introduced, with support for Google+, and settings that let you pick which sharing options (including Pocket and Buffer, too) will appear as a shortcut on the main toolbar.
The company says it tested the beta of this new mobile release with more than 500 users over the past 10 weeks, giving a special shout-out to Squarespace founder and CEO Anthony Casalena, who has offered his own feedback, as well.
As noted above, the biggest benefit to Google Reader users, who are just looking to duplicate their same Reader experience elsewhere, is the more compact title-only view. Feedly has already been working to make it easier on those transitioning to its web client, and this is the continuation of those efforts.
Feedly’s Biz Model: Freemium
Most importantly, perhaps, Feedly is finally talking publicly about its business model. And yes, it will ask some users to pay.
“We’ve been asked the question of Feedly’s viability a lot recently,” Moutran says. “We have heard from a significant proportion of our users that they would be willing to pay for Feedly. They love and depend on our service, and want to make sure Feedly will be there in the future,” he tells us. “We have also heard from our power users that they would like deeper integration with other services they use and pay for, like Evernote and Dropbox. We intend to launch a premium version of Feedly this year on a subscription basis that would include new features for power users.”
Moutran also notes that Feedly has been working with publishers on efforts that would allow its users to discover, purchase and access premium content, such as those behind “paywalls,” or only available on a subscription basis, for example.
The updated Feedly mobile apps are appearing in their respective app stores as of 9 AM PT, or you can download them from here.