Google's Chrome browser once again has an option for the addition of an RSS extension after a "mistake" late last week removed the RSS subscription extension from the Chrome Web Store.
A note about the errant deletion of the extension was placed in the Chromium developer's Website March 19 by Finnur Thorarinsson, the developer of the extension. The RSS extension appeared to no longer be available through the Web store just as Google announced its plans March 13 to discontinue its Google Reader RSS application. That coincidence fueled a host of rumors that the extension was going the way of Reader.
The demise of Reader and the erroneous removal of the RSS extension were not related, he wrote. "It was not tied to Google Reader, per se, since you choose which feed reader to use," the post stated. Thorarinsson has, however, modified the extension to remove the option to use Google Reader to view RSS feeds since Reader will be retired as of July 1. "I've now removed the Google Reader option for new users to prevent them from getting hooked on Reader and then be disappointed in a few months' time," he explained in his post.
Thorarinsson also took the time in his post to echo the feelings of many critics who have bashed Google's plans to dump Reader. "I'm an avid user of Google Reader and am pretty unhappy about the Reader situation as well," he wrote.
Contacted via email, a Google spokesperson told eWEEK that the brief disappearance of the RSS subscription extension was "just an honest mistake."
"We’ve given an overview of our reasoning and plans on our blog posts on the Official Google Blog and the Google Reader blog, and we'll be communicating directly with our users as we make these changes," the spokesperson said about the upcoming closure of Reader. "We don't have anything more to share than what was in the posts."
The RSS subscription extension, when installed, lets Chrome browser users subscribe to RSS feeds more easily by displaying an RSS button that can be clicked when the extension determines a feed is available on a Website that is being viewed.
The Chrome browser doesn't have the ability to view RSS feeds natively, so it required an extension to gain the capability.
Google cited declining use for its decision to end Reader, but fans of the news and information aggregation service were quick to criticize Google's decision, with at least one online petition—Google: Keep Google Reader Running—collecting more than 128,000 signatures by March 18 on Change.org. Several other petitions also were created and have been gaining signatures by the hour.
The ending of Google Reader is part of an assortment of service cuts the company is making in the next few months as part of a housecleaning project it began in 2011.
Interestingly, the news of the demise of Reader was buried in the sixth paragraph of the 10-paragraph blog post, among several lesser services that also will be ending soon, including Google Building Maker, Google Cloud Connect and Google Voice App for BlackBerry.
Google said the move is being made for two key reasons, including that the use of Google Reader has declined over time and that the company is pouring all of its energy into fewer products to better serve users.
Users will be able to retain and transfer their Reader data, including subscriptions, to other services using Google Takeout.
Other replacements are out there for getting the news and blog feeds that are provided by Google Reader, but they may not satisfy users who love the simple and easy-to-use format of Reader.