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They appear to perform the same functionality... only difference I see is that Currents layout is more like a magazine. And I can import my Reader subscriptions to Currents.

What's the difference between the two? Is there any reason to use one over the other? Does Currents replace Reader?

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3 Answers

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Google Reader is a cloud-based feed reader service. On top of this service, there are many apps as a front-end to user. E.g.- Official Google Reader apps (Web, Android), Feedly (Firefox, Android) etc.

Google Currents is a front-end digital magazine/ newspaper delivery app (with cloud sync) available to Android and iOS (no web interface yet). Google Currents can read feeds, but it wasn't designed for that. Google has a vision attached with it: Real digital magazine/ newspaper delivery which is beyond normal feed reading! See the differences:

  • Feed publishers don't have control of content display in end app, but Currents publishers do have. They can divide their currents in sections, sub-sections. They can decide the layout of this digital magazine etc. Its not just nice looking magazine interface.. its more than that. Feedly, which sync with Google Reader, also provides magazine interface, but its not really a magazine. Think about your real-world magazine reading experience.

  • Currents can be premium. Current publishers can charge you which is not possible with Google Reader. While there's a concept of premium feeds (which is rare), Google Reader can only subscribe it. But, Google Currents can be marketplace for that.

Google Currents can't replace Google Reader because its different thing. If you don't have special interest in those hand-created digital publications, go for Google Reader. You can use it on web, Windows, Mac, Ubuntu etc along with tablets and smartphones (all in sync for read/unread status, starred items). You can have thousands of interface choices thanks to Google Reader API. And yes, you can always mix feeds in Google Reader to create your own feed DJ (which is not possible with Google Currents).

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Google Reader

Google Reader is a Web-based tool for gathering, reading, and sharing all the interesting blogs and websites you read on the web.

It was released by Google on October 7, 2005 and graduated from beta status on September 17, 2007. Is available on any modern web browser with JavaScript enabled.


For further information visit:


Google Currents

Google Currents is an APP that delivers beautiful magazine-like editions to your tablet and smartphone for high speed and offline reading.

It was released by Google in December 2011 is currently available for Android and iOS devices.


For further information visit:


To answer your questions

What's the difference between the two?

R: The major difference is that Google Currents is an APP to be installed on your tablet or smartphone, while the Google Reader is a web-based application.

Is there any reason to use one over the other?

R: The major reason is that Google Current is currently available for tablet and smartphones, while the Google Reader, being a web-based application can be used on every device with an JavaScript ready web browser.

Does Currents replace Reader?

R: Haven't found any indication that Google Currents came to replace Google Reader. Actually the opposite seems to be happening, as the Google Currents can accept your feeds from your Google Reader account. Think of Google Currents as a more flexible way of reading feeds without the need of a web browser.


Reader APP vs Currents APP

You've mentioned on the comment for this answer that there's a Currents app and a Reader app. Yes, it does exists and I didn't know about it.

Just installed to compare the differences:

  • Reader APP:

    Continues to be a plain old fashioned RSS feed, just with a new "face".

    From Differences between the mobile and standard web interface (Google Support)

    The mobile interface accesses the same subscriptions as the standard web interface, and items read on your mobile device will be marked as read in the standard interface as well. Similarly, items read on the web will be marked as read in the mobile interface. The only difference is that you can't set up subscriptions from your mobile device.

  • Currents app:

    Instead of adding direct RSS feeds, you can add featured sites from well over 150 publishers that Google has partnered with. They include Forbes, TechCrunch, AllThingsD, The Huffington Post, ABC News, Al Jazeera, and The Guardian.

    You can choose sites from other featured topics including Business, Design, Science & Tech, Sports, and your RSS feeds from your Google Reader account.

    Additionally, you can be a Google Producer and add your own content to Google Currents.

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Well there's a Currents app and a Reader app (and you can use the browser too like Gmail, Maps, Youtube)... both of which pretty much does the same thing. Just found it weird to have both apps from Google do the same thing though I see that Reader is more flexible since you can use it on a computer. –  Jack Jul 15 '12 at 1:54
    
@Jack I've updated my answer, refer to the Reader APP vs Currents APP section to see my clarification regarding what you've mentioned on the comment. –  Zuul Jul 15 '12 at 3:36
    
Hmm now that you mention it, I haven't thought about the "Mark as read" functionality. I guess Currents doesn't actually mark the posts as read. Reader has widget much like the Gmail and Calendar widgets while Currents doesn't. Though the Currents app does look a lot prettier (with scrolling images of new posts in your subs), you have to read it like a book by swiping side to side while Reader is traditional scrolling. Seems to be mostly UI differences though. Thanks for the answer. –  Jack Jul 15 '12 at 6:37
    
You can add new subscriptions from the reader app. As I see it currents is for people with lots of time: I can go through 200 items in 3 minutes using the reader app starring stuff to read later. –  Richard Borcsik Jul 15 '12 at 7:54
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One other important thing to add about Google Currents is that depending on how many things you subscribe to, it can add on tons of megabytes to your phone's memory. I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 and I noticed that with my subscriptions and feeds, the Currents app is currently eating up 180 mb of memory on my phone. If that is not a problem for you, then Currents is a nice format to read info that you receive from your Google reader or maybe check out some magazines even. I myself can go without the frills to save that space on my phone. I believe in the end, it all just boils down to personal preference .

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