There are legitimate reasons to critique Google for how it chooses to track and use our data, but it does have some very helpful tools.
One that I found extremely useful was Google Reader (October 2005 – July 2013). It was a well-conceived and executed service that enabled users to subscribe to any RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed and subsequently keep up with new content on those feeds. Its popularity also meant developers were building tools to interface with that service to make it more accessible across different platforms.
Google Reader was also a de facto social sharing site — people could start discussions on items in their RSS feeds. Unfortunately, Google shut down Reader in an attempt to move users over to its fledgling social media service Google+. Instead, they killed the working social site they had and booted a community of RSS fans out of the Google ecosystem.
Following Google Reader’s announced sundown, a few different services stepped in to take up that void.
The one I went with at that time was Feedly. As a replacement, Feedly made it very easy to import my 150 RSS feeds. They were also not new to the business of helping users access RSS feeds as they had their initial release in 2008 with their big competition being Google Reader. When Google announced the plans to shut-down Google Reader, Feedly benefited from that in a big way. More than half a million new users joined the service in the two days following Google’s closure announcement for Google Reader. Over the next two weeks they had a total of 3 million users join their service. By the time Google was a couple of weeks away from their own July 1, 2013 shutdown date, Feedly had surpassed 12 million users.