I tried an experiment a few years ago where I used Twitter in lieu of RSS. The idea was to try and get my news and online interactions in a single platform. I kept the number of people I followed to a minimum, but I focused on creating different lists to suit different types of interests (long reads, tech news, photography, etc.). I deemed the experiment a failure after a few weeks because using Twitter like that made me feel like I could never make any progress in my news feed. Thatâ€™s one of the addicting things about RSS for me: itâ€™s an inbox that I can actually conquer.
Iâ€™ve tried quite a number of different RSS apps over the years, and the ones Iâ€™ve stuck with the longest have been Unread and Reeder for iPhone. I tend to use Reeder more often, but Iâ€™ll download Unread every few months just for a change of pace.
Unread has a very particular pace in mind for your RSS reading. You know those delicious hipster shots on Instagram of someone enjoying coffee and also catching up on the news on their phone? That person is probably using Unread (and with good reason). I use Feedly for syncing my RSS feeds across devices, but Unread also supports these services:
Unread does a great job of providing room for content to breathe on the screen. Thereâ€™s a lot of empty space between each headline in my news feed, which makes me pay more attention to posts, instead of judging them simply based on their headlines. I can tap on posts to view them in full screen, and thereâ€™s a great gesture (swipe left) to pull up contextual options while reading.
My issue with Unread is that it can be tougher to skim because it does give content so much space. I can only see a maximum of three headlines and previews on a single page, and Iâ€™m using an iPhone 6S Plus. If Iâ€™m in the mood for quick skimming of headlines so that I can mark the articles I really want to read, I tend to use Reeder.
Reederâ€™s main list screen shows me three times as much content as Unread does: I can see nine headlines, each of which has a single line preview of the post. The app was definitely designed to handle a large amount of content at a time, and it makes it easy to handle a set of 250â€“300 unread posts in a single session. A lot of the sites I follow can post similar news articles, and Reeder has a few smart features for handling posts in bulk:
- Swiping on an individual post can star it in Feedly, or mark it as unread.
- Tapping and holding on a post lets me mark all posts above or below that post as read.
- Force pressing on a post will let me preview it (which is fairly standard behaviour, but that isnâ€™t present in Unread).
I tend to treat my RSS feeds as an inbox to conquer, and Iâ€™ll save the articles I really like to something like Instapaper, or star them for later reading. Reederâ€™s more headline-centric approach works wonders for me. It feels like an app thatâ€™s built to work at my speed, with plenty of little shortcuts to help me manage media a little bit faster.
I donâ€™t think one of these readers is clearly better than the other, but Reeder is the one that I end up coming back to time and time again. Itâ€™s updated fairly often, has a solid iOS and Mac presence, and it probably works with the RSS service you already use. Unread is a little easier to get into because you can download it for free and then unlock other features, but I think Reeder makes for a very easy purchase at just $4.99 USD.