AOL has been building AOL Reader for the last few weeks as Google prepares to shutdown Google Reader on July 1st. The AOL Reader service will allow users to subscribe to their favorite RSS feeds and is going to present content in an aesthetic way. AOL Reader will be able to be accessed from the web, smartphones, and tablets. So what are AOL’s plans for getting into the RSS game?
AOL acknowledged that they have a “unique perspective on RSS readers and content aggregation apps because we are a publisher of content as well. Our goal is to create the best possible experience for users who want to read the best content on their phone, tablet, or desktop computer, whenever and wherever they want.” AOL said that current RSS readers present a trade-offs between user experience and revenue for the publisher (i.e. full text feeds vs. snippets of content that make you link out to read the full story). AOL said that they are working on ways to help publishers continue producing great content while still offering a better experience for their users.
AOL owns several content powerhouses including AOL.com, The Huffington Post, Engadget, Gdgt, and TechCrunch. Being able to present advertisements in a new form for these properties through AOL Reader will be an essential part of the product.
AOL Reader will not be entirely free. AOL said that even though they will keep the core RSS reading functionality free for they users, they are going to charge for certain functions. “Other advanced features (e.g. search) may be available for a fee as we evolve the Reader,” stated AOL on the company blog. Even though Google Reader hardly ever evolved since launching, the service always remained free for Google’s users.
AOL Reader will have expected features like the ability to subscribe to any RSS feed, the ability to save and share articles, and the ability to organize feeds. AOL Reader will also have an API for developers and third party apps. You will be able to sign in to AOL Reader using your AOL, Google, Facebook, and Twitter account. Some of the features that are coming soon are native iOS and Android apps, the ability to export feeds to OPML, sharing within AOL Reader, third party integration, search, and notifications.
It’s All About The Data!
AOL writes a lot of content. Being able to track what type of content that readers engage with from other publishers can be a serious advantage. Let’s say that a lot of AOL Reader users are reading about a new 3D printer on the Yahoo! News RSS feed through the AOL Reader RSS feeds, I could imagine AOL’s top brass telling their writers at Engadget and TechCrunch to seriously focus on that same product. This could prove to be a serious advantage for the content giant and would be great for their SEO.