A month and a half after throwing its hat into the news reader ring, Digg this week unveiled plans to launch the beta release of a "Google Reader alternative" app in June. Ultimately, features of the forthcoming app will include news sharing through email, Facebook and Twitter, along with support for multiple "read it later" services, according to newly available details.
Digg first went public with its app intentions in mid-March, just following Google's announcement of of a controversial decision to shut down its popular Google Reader as of July 1.
Prior to the Google announcement, Digg had privately planned to build a reader app in the second half of 2013. However, in light of Google Reader's impending demise, "we're moving the project to the top of our priority list," wrote Andrew, a Digg blogger, on March 14. "We're going to build a reader, starting today."
Digg is fashioning its reader app from the input of users who responded to two surveys, one focused on core reader and discovery features and the next on "more ancillary features" such as sharing and read later.
Sharing through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and More
In announcing plans for the beta this week, Digg also shared results from the second survey. "Nearly half of all respondents said that they never used Google Reader's social features (before the were rolled back in 2011), while just 17 percent said they used them often," according to the survey results.
"Though we may not have a robust social functionality in place for launch, ultimately we believe that social features which foster connections between readers will be an important part of the Digg experience."
The social features removed from Google Reader back in 2011 revolved around the ability to share news with others and to comment on the shared news items.
Conversely, though, despite the fact that most survey respondents had never used Google Reader's social features back then, a whopping 75 percent of this spring's survey respondents said they now share news via email. About 55 percent of the users share news through Facebook and Twitter, with users also sharing news through Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, Path, and other services. Here's the breakout -- and beneath below the chart below, Digg's commentary.
"It almost goes without saying that our reader will include seamless integration to all of these services," according to the Digg document.
Moreover, "though over one-third of respondents don't use a 'read it later' service, Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote and Readability are all popular options. Don't worry! Our goal is to support all of them."
Digg didn't specify, though, exactly how much of this integration with "read it later" and social networking services will be available in the beta edition set for June.
Some Users Would Pay, But Most Wouldn't
The survey results also showed that 40 percent of the respondents would be willing to pay for the app, whereas 60 percent would not. Without saying so directly, Digg hinted that it's ultimately envisioning a paid app.
"Free products on the Internet don't have a great track record. They tend to disappear, leaving users in a lurch. We need to build a product that people can rely on and trust will always be there for them. We're not sure how pricing might work, but we do know that we'd lik our users to be our customers, not our product," according to the document.
Digg, though, will be entering a market that's already crowded with plenty of "Google Reader alternatives" on the iOS and Android sides alike.
Existing choices range from basic RSS readers to newer slick "social magazine" platforms like Flipboard. Many of these readers are free, and few of the others cost more than a couple of dollars.
Just this week, one of the older RSS apps, Reeder, got a major update. With the update, the iOS and Android app no longer requires Google Reader on the back end. Reeder can now be used as a standalone RSS reader after a feed list is imported into the app.
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