AOL's new RSS news reader is now open to the public in the shape of a beta version. Featuring a nice lay-out coupled with a strong set of tools for scanning. organising RSS feeds, it is currently only available as a Web browser, but apparently, an app version is in the making. As it is, the reader does detect mobile services and gives users a good mobile-friendly experience.
Users can connect to the reader via AOL, Facebook, Google or Twitter accounts. As soon as they are logged in, they are prompted to subscribe to news feeds. Handy topics to begin with include technology, sports, movies and news. An option to search via search terms or enter source URLs is also available.
Google Reader users needing to find a new home can import their existing subscriptions as zipped files via Google Takeout. Transfer to the AOL reader should only take a couple of minutes.
After setting up the first few feeds, the reader then provides users with several options of displaying their news. Options include list view, which only offers headlines; the slightly more spread-out, multiple-column Card View and the Full View, which offers headlines complete with a brief synopsis of the content.
Alternatively, users can choose to opt for the Pane View, which vertically splits the screen. In this view, headlines are displayed on the left, while content will show in the panel to the right.
Very similar to Google Reader, Feedly and other similar services in look and functionality, AOL Reader also has a variety of other useful features. Users may, for instance, mark stories to be read later with a star. Stories can also be shared via LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. These and a variety of other possible actions can be performed via keyboard short-cuts.
While there may be nothing major new to get excited about, AOL Reader certainly offers a solid option for users looking for an alternative to the soon to be disappearing Google Reader. The lay-out is definitely nice, controls will be familiar to most and beginners will find lots of suggested content to make a start with.
Easy enough to sign-up to, user friendly and generally definitely no worse than similar options, AOL Reader is without a doubt worth looking into once Google Reader disappears for good. If nothing else, it is another addition to a line-up of potential Google Reader replacements of quality.