Google could soon integrate a basic RSS feed reader into Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
May 20, 2021
Google Chrome

Google plans to run an RSS feed reader experiment in the Android version of its Chrome web browser soon. A new announcement on the official Chromium blog reveals details on the plan. According to the announcement, Google will add an "experimental Follow feature" to Chrome Canary for Android for "some users in the US" to determine whether there is enough interest for the feature to be included in all versions of the browser.

When Google killed Google Reader in 2013, the most popular RSS feed reader at the time, many thought that this would be the end of RSS on the Internet. There were plenty of alternatives and sites did not just stop supporting RSS out of a sudden thanks to built-in support in many popular content management systems.

RSS has several advantages over solutions such as email newsletters or notifications. It is widely available, but not always displayed prominently on sites, it gives users options to read the news using a web service, desktop program, mobile app, or by using a browser extension, and its support is unmatched when compared to the other options.

google chrome follow rss experiment

Google's integration allows users to follow sites that support RSS with just two taps. Open the menu in Chrome and select the "follow" option in the menu to add it to the list of subscribed feeds. Chrome does not mention RSS in any way, nor other terms such as feed or XML.

A new "following" tab is added to Chrome's new tab page that lists posts in chronological order. Only the title, source, time of publication, and a screenshot or icon, are displayed on the following page.

Google does not reveal anything else about the new functionality; especially the management options will be interesting. Since it is bare bones, it seems likely that Google will add basic unsubscribe options but no advanced features such as support for importing or exporting a list of feeds (OPML is the standard for that).

Closing Words

Introducing RSS to a wider audience, albeit without all the technicalities, is something that could give the technology a boost. RSS is still one of the best options, in my opinion the best, when it comes to keeping an eye on the publications of a large number of sites on the Internet. Neither email newsletters nor notifications support this.

Whether Google's experiment will be a success remains to be seen. Canary users may be more likely to use RSS functionality, and it could be a good addition to browsers in general.

Now You: do you use RSS? What is your take on Google's plan?

Google could soon integrate a basic RSS feed reader into Chrome
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Google could soon integrate a basic RSS feed reader into Chrome
Google plans to run an RSS feed reader experiment in the Android version of its Chrome web browser soon.
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  1. nunof said on June 12, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    > Neither email newsletters nor notifications support this

    For newsletters I use Free and has worked fine for my newsletters in my RSS reader.

    Glad Chrome is implementing RSS into Chrome. Hopefully more sites will implement the functionality and maybe…just maybe people start curate their news sources instead of simply trust in aggregators like Google News or Facebook

  2. owl said on May 22, 2021 at 8:55 am

    I’m not interested in any services involving the greedy and evil Google, so naturally I don’t care about the topic of Google Chrome, but since the topic of RSS subscriptions seems to be progressing in “Comments”, I post an in my opinion about RSS.

    The way I get information from the web is exclusively by subscribing to RSS feeds.

    RSS allows me to automatically get new and updated information from websites that I have subscribed to, but since I can limit myself to specific sources, I can avoid the “Filter bubble” pollution that occurs when using a web browser.
    In other words, it prevents me from being misled by trivial or false information, and allows me to get the “information me want” in a rational and efficient manner.
    Specifically, I can get information from the “gHacks Tech News”, major news sites, application developer/vendor sites, and public relations for government agencies, etc.

    For web browsers, the extension “Feedbro” is useful.
    For standalone, I recommend the desktop app “QuiteRSS”.
    However, my preference is to subscribe to RSS in email client, “Thunderbird”. Also, so can also reopen it in any web browser, etc. via “BrokenURL” if necessary (for example, when I want to post to gHacks).
    How to Subscribe to News Feeds and Blogs |
    BrokenURL | The BrokenURL is a Windows URL router.

  3. ULBoom said on May 21, 2021 at 1:55 am

    Thunderbird can be used as a RSS client. I’ve never used RSS but would tend to look for a standalone way to do so.
    I can’t imagine what Google will do to this; they’ve been going down memories lane lately. If anyone can gum up the past, they can. :)

  4. Mo said on May 21, 2021 at 12:04 am

    Love using Live Marks in Firefox. Puts all my favorite websites in the bookmark toolbar, and I can easily keep on top of them.

  5. Anonymous said on May 20, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    What a confusing mess. I rather use a standalone program like QuiteRSS.

  6. Anonymous said on May 20, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    Yes, I use News on my Nextcloud server. RSS is the best.

    Little-known trick: for Github releases, just add .atom to the releases URL to get the feed:

  7. Tom Hawack said on May 20, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    I love and use RSS feeds extensively. So handy, at least when site webmasters understand than a feed is not a website’s front-page but an index to the site’s articles/comments : make them short.

    Here on Firefox I enjoy the ‘Feedbro’ extension which handles all ’em feeds.

    Google’s move? Maybe is the RSS making its come-back? No idea, really. I do know that if RSS followers still exist they are more in the seniors category. “RSS, what’s that?” is a question I often hear amid the juniors. Things change, some don’t, others come back. C’est la vie.

    1. Yash said on May 20, 2021 at 9:56 pm

      I was one of those ‘RSS WHAT’S THAT’ users until I *notice* Feedly on F-Droid Homepage at the start of this month. And started using it, gotta say SO FAR SO GOOD AND DEFINITELY TIME SAVING.

      1. Yash said on June 3, 2021 at 8:40 pm


  8. Dumbledalf said on May 20, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever used RSS in my life. I may have tried it just to see what it’s about and eventually found it useless.

    1. smaragdus said on May 23, 2021 at 11:00 pm

      Your comment is absolutely useless, top junk. The dumber and emptier the people the more vocal they are. In current culture ignorance is a virtue.

  9. Dumb Wolf said on May 20, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Ah yes, kill your awesome RSS feed reader and then integrate another RSS feed reader into your browser…

    1. Lemegeton said on May 20, 2021 at 2:02 pm

      From their (business) point of view, that’s right: they used to have to bear the server costs (Google Reader). With the current realisation, everything works on the client side (that is, your local resources are consumed, not their server resources).
      However, as I wrote above, I don’t think this will be Google’s long-term solution. RSS is not profitable for their main business. It almost directly interferes with it. And that will be a key point in making the final decision, just as it eventually did with Google Reader.

  10. randomnamehere said on May 20, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Brilliant. RSS it the best feature web 2.0 had to offer.

    It’s funny that Firefox removed RSS to be like Chrome and now, when Chrome is bringing it back, Mozilla will probably do so too. Mozilla needs to collapse so that innovative browsers like Vivaldi or Opera have more room to grow.

  11. Gideon van Melle said on May 20, 2021 at 11:19 am

    I continued using RSS with Inoreader. I would love to see a google rss reader.

  12. Luzandro said on May 20, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Do you use RSS? Are there people, who don’t come to this site via RSS?

    1. Dumb Wolf said on May 20, 2021 at 12:03 pm

      I was really disappointed when they killed Reader, so I moved to Feedly and I’m now a happy paying customer for Inoreader.

      1. Orhan said on May 20, 2021 at 4:30 pm

        Same here. avid google reader user once. Tried feedly for a while, settled with Inoreader as a pro user.

  13. Firefox said on May 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

    And maybe Firefox will do the same :D

  14. Lemegeton said on May 20, 2021 at 10:58 am

    > Now You: do you use RSS? What is your take on Google’s plan?
    I’ve been using it for years: at the moment it’s the best way to keep up-to-date on topics and sites you’re interested in, and it saves you time (if a site supports RSS).

    The news is generally good because, as the article says, it can increase the use of this technology on the Internet, however, I’m a little skeptical about its final appearance in Chrome (not as an experiment):
    “browsing sites” this way (by subscribing and reading RSS) goes against Google’s business model (show you ads on pages and as many as possible). I believe that’s why Google Reader was killed in its time: it did not make money on its own (did not provide monetization), while harming Google’s core business – advertising (users who use RSS less visit pages, and if they do, then only when they really want information there – it reduces views of ad).

    And therefore the appearance of this technology built into the most popular browser can also harm their core business in exactly the same way.
    So the reasons for this feature not appearing (or appearing with subsequent removal after some time) may be the same.

    1. Ross Presser said on May 20, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      Obviously they plan to inject ads into the RSS experience eventually.

  15. anona said on May 20, 2021 at 10:28 am

    LOL now Mozilla (Firefox) and Microsoft (IE -> Edge) must feel silly to have dropped RSS from their browsers! As far as I know only Opera and (more limited:) Brave still support RSS.

    1. Lemegeton said on May 20, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Not only. Vivaldi laso support RSS.

  16. Paul(us) said on May 20, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Why burden a browser with RSS feeds when there are plenty of stand-alone RSS readers who work like a charm, without Google.
    Why make the browser less responsive and more vulnerable ( More fragile even) this makes no sense?

    Does Google now try for the second time to kill RSS feeds?
    Does Google maybe have an alternative ( Google reader 2.0) to who the consumers are going to have to pay?

    1. Ross Presser said on May 20, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      Reading RSS with a web application makes sense if you ever happen to use more than one device to read stuff.

      Building a half-assed RSS thing into Chrome at this late date? Does not make sense.

  17. Steve said on May 20, 2021 at 10:09 am

    If you eventually want to be hacked, keep on using RSS.

    You don’t have to take my word for it, just google it. RSS feed exploit injection.

    1. Anonymous said on May 21, 2021 at 2:38 am

      I found nothing, only about some SQL injection because of the feeds?

    2. Ross Presser said on May 20, 2021 at 5:23 pm

      Literally zero Google hits for “RSS feed expolit injection” with quotes. Without quotes, nothing jumps out at me. If you’re serious about your warning, provide at least one link.

      1. Steve said on May 22, 2021 at 9:11 am
      2. Anonymous said on May 23, 2021 at 3:11 am

        “In most modern browsers this code is correctly ignored and HTML gets correctly rendered. However, in QuiteRSS 0.19.4 with JavaScript enabled the code gets executed”

        This is QuiteRSS problem not RSS problem.

        The next one also Tiny RSS problem not limited to RSS problem. SQL injection is common in web not only RSS. Search ‘XSS vulnerability’ for more information

      3. Steve said on May 23, 2021 at 2:07 pm

        Well, I did not said the RSS specification was broken.
        The thing is that if you use QuiteRSS for your RSS feeds, it should concern you.
        Same thing if you have a server with Tiny Tiny.

      4. Anonymous said on May 24, 2021 at 2:59 am

        Isn’t it different from your first post? You specifically said RSS that gives exploit, user will get exploit if still using RSS?

        RSS is using XML as main distribution format, but there is RSS in json format which is much safer but not quite popular(feedly already supported it).

      5. Steve said on May 24, 2021 at 1:54 pm

        I guess my first message was too brief to be understood as I intended. Nonetheless, the point is RSS needs RSS readers. So, you cannot separate one thing from the other. Otherwise, if I go your way, I can take a JavaScript exploit, open the file in Notepad and say, see nothing happens, code is not malicious. In other words, most of the time the problem is the parser (e.g. QuiteRSS, Tiny, Chrome, etc.)

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