Digg Reader Beta is not yet ready for prime time

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 28, 2013

I received my Digg Reader invite earlier this day and immediately went to the website to check it out. First thing that you need to do is link Reader with your Google Account to import your Google Reader feed list. It is not clear what users do that do not use Google Reader, but I suppose they will have to do the same but end up with 0 imported feeds after the process.

This in itself can be problematic as you cannot import opml files into Digg Reader at the moment. While it is possible to add individual feed urls or browse curated categories such as Internet, Technology or Sports to add one or more of the suggested feeds to your reading list, it is not as comfortable as it could be.

Feed Management

If you have used Google Reader before you will notice that all of your feeds are listed on the left sidebar. Digg for whatever reason decided to display root folder feeds first before any folder that you may have created. What this means is that you may end up with a large list of uncategorized feeds at the top that take up valuable space.

In my particular case it means to scroll down dozens of pages before I reach my folder structure that I can work with. Since there is no "Go to end" option it is not really usable at the time of writing.

An option to manage feeds is missing as well which could help overcome the issue. Just move all root feeds into a folder and be done with them. There is however no option to do so comfortably. While it is possible to create a new folder and use drag and drop to move feeds into it, it needs to be done for each feed individually. I do have more than 1000 feeds in the root folder which would mean that I would spend the better half of the day dragging and dropping feeds around.

There is also no option to hide feeds or folders with no new contents which should really be introduced as well as soon as possible by the team.


The reading pane displays feeds one per line resembling how Google Reader displayed feeds in its interface. The name of the publisher, title of the article and time it has been published are all listed here. Depending on how much screen space you have, you may also see the first words of the article itself listed here.

You can switch to expanded view right away which displays all feeds in their entirety on the screen. This can be useful if you plan to read every news item in a particular folder or of a site you are interested in. If you prefer to get a quick overview over what is new and hot, then this is probably not the best option though.

Readability of articles displayed in Digg Reader is great on the other hand. Articles are displayed inline and not as pop-outs as on several other RSS reading services.

Once you have opened an article is is marked read automatically in the reader, but articles are not marked read if you scroll by them so that you need to take care of that manually for now. You can use the mark read button for that for instance.

Articles can be saved to the account, shared on Twitter or Facebook, or voted for using the company's Digg service.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Digg Reader supports keyboard shortcuts, many of which are copied over from Google Reader so that you do not have to learn new shortcuts to get started. There is however no help file or onscreen help available at the time of writing that highlights the shortcuts and their functionality.

  • j go to next article in line, open it and mark it as read.
  • k go to previous article in line, open it and mark it as read.
  • r refresh
  • n go down to the next article in line without opening it.
  • p go up to the previous article in line without opening it.
  • space go to next article in line
  • o or enter expand or close the current article.
  • v load the source page in a new tab.
  • e email
  • d digg
  • s save to saved section


Digg Reader lacks other features like a search option to search your feeds. That's probably one of the biggest features missing right now but not the only one. There is no option yet to create filters for example and also no sort options, for example to sort by oldest entry instead of newest first in the listing.

A mobile version of the application is available for Apple's iOS operating system. A version for Android should be ready at the end of July according to Digg.


Digg Reader is in beta right now and it is very likely that it will improve over time. While it may prove to be sufficient for the feed reading needs of some users, most power-users, and the majority of Google Reader users certainly fall into that category, may feel that it lacks too many features to be a suitable alternative at the time of writing.

The idea to mix a feed reader with a news aggregation service such as Digg makes sense on the other hand, as both services can certainly benefit from the other.


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