Despite much wailing and gnashing of teeth Google Reader is finally set to go dark next week, and more than a few companies (including TechCrunch owner AOL) are shooting to fill the gap it’s going to leave behind. Digg Reader is probably the most prominent of those reader replacements, and just a few minutes ago the team officially announced on the Digg blog that the long-running project is now open to the public.
What perfect timing! After all, what better way is there to spend a Friday night than carefully setting up all your RSS feeds?
In case you haven’t been keeping tabs on the Digg Reader odyssey, the betaworks team has been slaving on this thing essentially since Google announced that its own reader would get the axe all the way back in March. The Reader project has largely been kept under lock and key since then, though betaworks has been showing it off to journalist types (see our own Sarah Perez’s impressions here) and recently opened up access to the closed Reader beta earlier this week to those who expressed interest early on.
Even though the news-hungry masses now have access to Digg Reader, it’s not completely ready for primetime yet — the team concedes this week spent conferring with early access users had made it clear that Reader is still missing a few things. Among the features they hope to implement shortly are accurate counts for unread items in users’ feeds, the ability to mark individual items as unread, and a way to view just those unread. The post doesn’t offer up a timetable on those features, but Digg GM Jake Levine confirmed on Twitter that they’ll “be ready” some time next week. All that said, Reader is now crawling some 4.5 million feeds and (at least in my experience) has been running like a charm so far — here’s hoping that it doesn’t get crushed by Google’s reader refugees over the next few days.