I also find that every "new feature" or "improvement" doesn't really feel that way to me. The new Google Maps for example, its a step back from the outgoing version (imho). But this has nothing to do with eMail or feeds, rather just further spoils everything.
I could go on. . ., but to keep it short, Google, is in other words, the new AOL: a separate shelter from the open web, with very limited interoperability.
With that, what alternatives can I look into? Keep in mind I’m trying to pick services that are not integrated too tightly to any given provider and where there's a clear and predictable business direction.
I'm still looking around, but fastmail.fm (Opera software) looks promising? It's not free, but $5/year doesn't hurt me. IMAP and POP, no ads.
I haven't not found anything that works the way I want. I receive a TON of RSS feeds and miss the way Google RSS handled them