Before algorithms turned the web into an annoying, non-chronological mess of predictive and addictive content, people used simple RSS feeds to keep up with their favorite websites. Google shut down its wonderful Reader RSS platform nearly a decade ago, but the company is now experimenting with a new RSS system baked directly in Chrome.
The experimental feature is only available to some Chrome Canary users on Android in the United States … but it looks really cool in pictures! If a website supports RSS, you can follow it from the Chrome browser menu. Then, new content from the site will automatically appear in a “Following” tab on your browser’s homepage (so you can swipe between algorithmic “For You” content and hand-picked RSS content).
We’ve heard it loud and clear: Discovery & distribution is lacking on the open web, and RSS hasn’t been ‘mainstream consumer’ friendly.
— Paul Bakaus (@pbakaus) May 19, 2021
Should Google decide to stick with this feature, it will be a major turning point for RSS. People who have never used RSS will be able to curate a personal feed of new content for the first time in their lives, and old RSS fans will finally have a clean and modern feed system baked into their browser.
Of course, Google’s experimental feed system probably won’t replace Feedly and other platforms, which are highly customizable and have huge learning curve. Instead, it will fill the gap left by dozens of now-dead services, which helped average internet users manage a feed of sites that they cared about. That is, unless Google abandons the idea, which is entirely possible.