I use RSS readers on a daily basis. In fact, I cannot imagine functioning without one and I haven’t found anything that could replace them in the near future. Twitter? I would need a seperate account or perhaps a carefully tailored list. Flipboard? Doesn’t suit my preferences. Anyway — I use various devices to follow the feeds I subscribe to and I spent hours customizing my lists to suit my needs, the one labeled ‘must-read’ especially.
Until now Reeder (and recently it’s second version) was my app of choice — available on both OS X and iOS [App Store links] it brought the near-perfect experience. This was one of the few tools where it lacked features that I wanted. It’s minimalistic design was gorgeous and I fell in love instantly. When Unread for iPhone came along, I didn’t quite understand it’s user interface. It wasted space unnecessarily and I quickly removed it from my SpringBoard. And then Unread for iPad came along…
Unread for iPad
Unread for iPad [App Store link] brought with it a refreshing new UI with lots of whitespace which made beautiful use of the iPad’s larger screen. Showing just three articles at a time in list view totally changed how I look at and read my feeds. Everything felt relaxed… I felt relaxed! And focused at the same time, almost as if I was lying on the beach, in a comfortable hammock while listening to the calming sound of waves lapping the shore, reading a thrilling book. This sort of experience is unquantifiable and hard to put down on paper — you have to try it out for yourself.
Unread for iPad, upon first launch, displays a short and simple tutorial to get the basics down pat. It teaches the user the available gestures — artistic flourishes even, due to the large tap targets — which help in getting around the UI. It also teaches them how to change themes. Oh, the wonderful themes… Available in Fire Red, Pure White, Mournful Grey and Contrast Glass, everyone should find something that they like. I’m not particularly fond of the last one though, and I did make all those names up, but the grey and light themes are right up my alley. The only feature that I would love to see is automatic switching between the two depending on the time of day and/or light levels.
Swiping right from the main screen takes us to the option screen, where we can choose our RSS sync services — all the major ones are supported, including Feedly and Feed Wrangler — as well as dig down into a few personalization options. The font size can be adjusted (I set it down a notch) as well as a few other things, such as automatically marking articles that we scroll by in list view as read. There’s also an option to add thumbnails to the latter, but I don’t recommend it — it doesn’t feel right and destroys the intended minimalism. The default options are very well balanced and my only gripe is in regard to the Background App Refresh toggle, which is accessed via iOS Settings — it’s switched on by default which is in contrast to Silvio Rizzi’s decision to make it an opt-in feature in Reeder 2.
Unread for iPhone
After spending a few days with Unread on the larger screen, I finally understood the philosophy behind Unread for iPhone [App Store link]. The apps are unfortunately separate purchases which is too bad — I would prefer to pay the same or even a slight premium for a universal app (then again, I am weird that way) — but their realationship can definitely be felt. Two peas in a pod, two birds of a feather — whatever you want to call them — it’s hard to use one and not the other, especially if you want to remain device agnostic. The functionaily is basically the same, though the design is tighter and not as enticing. It’s still the one of the best though — no question about that.
Whichever product or combination you go with, you can’t go wrong. I do strongly recommend trying our Unread though, especially the iPad version.