Reeder in Review – One Newsreader to Rule Them All

I don’t know if you are as addicted to news as I am, but if you have an iPad or iPhone and find yourself checking your RSS feeds several times a day – AND you’re not using Reeder to read these words, then stop right now, go buy Reeder (for iPhone) or Reeder for iPad (or both) and finish reading this article on the app.

OK, good (whew)! I expect you’re now on Reeder and are about as delighted as you can be about using a newsreader. While you’re at it, I recommend you pick up a copy of Instapaper (paid or free) too, so you can store things indefinitely that pique your interest.

Reeder is a must-have app for anybody reading RSS and it’s ideally suited to power users who typically scan dozens of stories at a time looking for choice bits to examine in more detail. If your newsreader requirements demand:

  • fast loading and refresh
  • simple and intuitive user interface
  • efficient navigation through multiple feeds
  • crisp text and clear visuals

Reeder excels on all counts. More so, if you’re a news junkie who isn’t afraid to master and rule the glut of information you crave, then read on…

Newsreaders typically scan XML (text) files on content web sites and display what they find. When an author wants to post new information, this file or “RSS feed” is updated with the changes. You “subscribe” to a feed by adding its web address to your newsreader’s list of feeds (a task which is often automated by your web browser when you click on an orange and white RSS icon). Newsreaders remember and mark items you’ve already viewed in a manner similar to how e-mail clients handle read and unread e-mail. Most newsreaders also give you the ability to flag (or star) news items so you can reference them later.

Reeder, like many modern newsreaders, makes use of a service from Google called Google Reader which keeps track of all your feeds plus it monitors the feed items you’ve already looked at. The advantage of this service is that new and previously read items are independent of the device you use, so news items you’ve already reviewed on your laptop, smartphone or iPad are synced when you switch to another device – e.g., if you’re using Reeder on your iPhone and iPad, you won’t see the same items marked “unread” on your iPad if you looked at them earlier on your iPhone.

Reeder for iPhone

Reading all one’s newsfeeds can be tedious. This is where Reeder’s user interface makes a big difference. Typically I check my feeds for any new/unread items that Reeder finds on Goodle Reader (I can also choose to display all items or just my starred items). Folders of feeds can be expanded or contracted with a simple pinch gesture. Swiping up or down scrolls the list with a nice bounce at the beginning or end.

Tapping a feed takes me to a list of its news items displayed with both a title and the first line of each article. Again scrolling the list up or down is done with a finger drag or flick. By quickly scanning these items, I can pick out anything that seems interesting, and with just a tap I get an expanded summary and a graphic or video if available. Finally if I want more, I can read the entire article through Reeder’s in-app web browser.

Running through feeds becomes very efficient because I get enough information at each level to know if I want to go deeper. Once I’ve finished, all it takes is a couple taps to mark the rest of the items as read and I can move on to the next feed.

Reeder on the iPad is similar to its iPhone cousin, but the iPad’s additional screen area is put to good use. The item list contains more text than on the iPhone and in landscape mode, the iPad displays both the feed items in one column and the selected summary in another (see above). In addition, a pinch gesture on a graphic will expand it to full screen.

To be clear, even though Reeder is great for navigating efficiently through all your feeds, it does not skimp on presentation. The attention to detail throughout this app includes making reading your content a real joy. In addition and as you can see below, Reeder integrates with a wealth of 3rd party services that let you share your favorite articles with others or save them for offline viewing.

The only real trouble I’ve had with Reeder is its in-app support for YouTube videos. With earlier releases, viewing YouTube would occasionally crash the app. The developer has been very active making stability improvements, however, and I rarely have this problem anymore.

To set up Reeder, you’ll need a (free) Google Reader account synced with the newsfeeds you’re reading. Reeder currently doesn’t have the capability of subscribing and adding feeds to Google Reader itself, but that’s promised in a future upgrade. Until then, most PC/Mac newsreaders will do this one-time task for you.

Reeder (for iPhone – $2.99) and Reeder for iPad ($4.99) are both must buys if you’re heavily into your newsfeeds and/or prefer a no nonsense efficient user interface. They are easily some of the best you’ll find on the App Store for staying on top of your feeds and I can’t recommend them too highly!

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App Summary
Title:Reeder
Reeder for iPad
Developer: Silvio Rizzi
Reviewed Ver:2.1 (iPhone) 1.1 (iPad)Min OS Req:3.0
Price:Reeder -$2.99
Reeder for iPad -$4.99
App Size:2.2 MB
  • Polished and intuitive user interface
  • Great Google Reader integration
  • Services support (Twitter, Instapaper, etc.)
  • No in-app ability to subscribe to newsfeeds

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Some of my favorite feeds:

  • Order of the Stick – hilarious RPG comic
  • Daring Fireball – insightful, fun and timely commentary on Apple
  • Lifehacker – interesting and useful tips and ideas about everything
  • TMA – of course
  • Fantasy Flight Games – Arkham Horror and other great boardgames

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