The phrase, “nothing lasts forever,” is so often repeated, but there is a good reason for it. If even the mighty Google Reader, loved by millions of RSS feed subscribers, can fall, then nothing is safe. RSS is far from dead, though – in fact, the demise of Reader has sparked a new wave of great RSS apps, and here at EverythingiCafe, we’ve put together a list of the very best RSS apps for iPhone and iPad.
Available in both iPhone and iPad optimized forms, Feedly provides what is, perhaps, the most comprehensive replacement of Reader. As well as the option to choose from multiple methods of feed display, including an image-focused, magazine-style design, Feedly also provides feed syncing, which means that your feeds are always available and organized, regardless of which device you’re accessing them on.
This syncing system is utilized by a number of other apps (see below), as Google Reader was, so it makes sense to import your feeds into Feedly whether you wish to use the official app or not.
Feedly also features a publisher search engine, along the same lines as Flipboard’s, which means that you don’t even need a feed or OPML file in order to add your favourite news sources.
The sharing options of Feedly are worth a mention. At the top of each article is a tweet button, along with the icon of your favourite read later service, but open up the next-door menu, and nine more options make themselves available.
As a final flourish, Feedly provides a selection of fonts to choose from, along with a dark night theme for low light news snacking.
If you’re looking for Reader by another name, Feedly probably is as close as you’re going to get.
Reeder was one of the most popular Google Reader clients on iOS, and it has now been updated to work seamlessly with the new batch of cloud RSS services, such as Feedly, Feedbin and Fever, among others.
Reeder’s strongest suit has always been its elegant, refreshingly stripped-back design. Pictures are only displayed within single articles, so the lists of subscriptions and headlines – black text on an off-white background – are very clear.
Reeder also provides very solid integration with Readability, which can be seen both in the way that posts are displayed, and in the omnipresence of the Read Later button at the top of the screen.
Not that Reeder’s sharing options stop there. If you trigger the share menu via the icon to be found at the bottom of each article, you’ll unleash a bewilderingly large selection of destinations to which you can send the post, along with the feed item’s permalink.
Reeder is probably the best choice for the text-focused RSS subscriber, although its compatibility with multiple services will also win it fans.
Given the closed shop nature of Flipboard’s feed system, I can’t really include it in this roundup. But those of you who like the magazine-style presentation of feeds need not worry – I give you the gift of Newsify.
As one of the many apps based on the Feedly cloud system, Newsify provides the now-familiar look of boxed story previews, although unlike Flipboard, navigation is achieved by interminable vertical scrolling, rather than page turning. Newsify does provide something its better known competitor doesn’t, though, in the form of a Feedly-like design, available via the top-right pop-out menu.
Another notable feature of Newsify’s design is its article navigation. Rather than flipping pages, you can simply scroll until the top or bottom of a post, and vertically drag the page further still to jump to the next story in the feed.
For those who like the browsability of Flipboard, but prefer to provide their own feeds, Newsify is definitely a good option.
Though it may be in the very earliest stages of its existence, the new iOS home of Digg sports a simple, effective design, and provides a shockingly good operating speed.
Of course, this app does require that you sign up with its web-based parent service, but with this minor chore out of the way, you’ll have online syncing available.
Articles are provided in a simple, full-width list, complete with a sentence preview and, when one is available, a featured image.
Along with your feeds, Digg on iOS also provides some of the network’s signature features. For instance, above your feeds in the navigation menu is the Top Stories tab, which provides access to Digg’s front-page tableau of the most popular recent stories. Equally, the Digging network is in place and fully functional here, allowing you to recommend stories to others, and track what you’ve Digged.
I must also mention Digg’s article view. Several of the apps in this list do not offer alternative fonts as part of their settings, and Digg is no exception to this. The font chosen by the developer, however, is (to my eyes, at least) a masterstroke, being both beautiful and highly legible.
I really like Digg, and not just because I’m already an account-holder. As an efficient, cleanly-designed way of getting to your feeds, Digg is brilliant.
As with Digg, NewsBlur’s app is an adjunct to its main, online service, but where Digg has half its focus on being a social network, NewsBlur concentrates on providing a private, high quality RSS environment.
Before I talk you through this app’s features, I must mention the subject of money. The NewsBlur service is free up to 64 feeds (if you’re willing to wait in a queue for your account to be instated), but should you wish to add more RSS goodness, you’ll need to purchase the $24/year upgrade.
Back to the app – NewsBlur’s design isn’t going to turn any heads. It’s all rather beige, grey and (shock horror) Windows 98-ish. Okay, so the last part of that description may be a little harsh, but you get my point.
Whatever NewsBlur is lacking looks-wise, is more than made up for by what’s under the hood. Along with the usual easy access to your unread stories, NewsBlur has an intelligent “Focus” mode. This tries to cherry-pick, from your feeds, the articles which are more likely to interest you, based on the authors and article keywords you mark as your favorites.
Looking at the article view provides a return to the world of unremarkable design, but NewsBlur gets the job done. The two fonts on offer are perfectly good enough for extended reading, and each article is accompanied by tags which can be tapped to “train” NewsBlur’s Focus system.
Sharing is, perhaps, NewsBlur’s weakest component. App.net fans will be happy with the Twitter alternative’s inclusion, but apart from the standard Facebook and Twitter options, there aren’t any other sharing methods natively available.
As an overall product, however, NewsBlur is certainly the real RSS deal, and RSS addicts will love its intelligent sorting of stories.
Whatever your RSS style may be, there are now plenty of apps to fill every conceivable approach to iOS feed reading. The apps above are my personal favourites, chosen for their visual appeal, their powerful feature set, or a bit of both. If you have already found your RSS app match, why not share it in the comments below?