I still remember the day when I spotted my ex-colleague using Silvio Rizzi’s ‘Reeder’ on the Mac for the first time. Before that, I wasn’t convinced enough to use any of the desktop news reader apps, and the only place I used to read was on Google Reader in my browser. But Reeder changed that instantly within a few minutes. Reeder’s two key strengths were the reason for it — its simplicity and speed. Reeder 2, the recently launched Universal app, stays completely true to the two original strengths of its predecessors. While most other popular news readers have attempted to bring in a heavy magazine style layout with pretty transitions, Reeder 2 still looks a lot similar to the original Reeder app, which to me is a very good thing.
On first launch, the new Reeder gives a list of gesture shortcuts, which are handy, intuitive and in-line with most iOS 7 app designs. Immediately after that, it lets you add an account from any of the four news reading and syncing services that Reeder currently supports — Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler and Fever. Reeder also supports Readability as a standalone ‘Read Later’ service. It caches all your articles just like your Readability app does, and lets you read them offline. Finally, the app also lets you read RSS locally, without any of the syncing services.
The most amazing thing about Reeder 2 is its ‘oh-my-god-its-so-smooth-and-responsive’ fluid interface. Whether it’s just after you have added an account & it’s syncing in the background, scrolling through a list of 1000+ articles from a feed source, reading a long article with large amount of images, or switching back and forth between the webview and article reader view, the app didn’t feel even in the slightest sense, laggy or sluggish. I tested it both on the iPhone 5 and on the iPad Mini and on both devices, the responsiveness was on par with each other.
On the iPad, the app has stacked sidebar layout to help you swiftly navigate all the way from accounts list to the final article through the folders/categories, feed list and article list menus. On the iPhone, the same happens except that only one view is shown at a time due to the obvious screen real estate limitations. You can move forward and backward smoothly between menus and screens with a simple edge swipe on both devices. You can ‘pull to refresh’ on any of the screens you are on, in case you don’t want to scroll all the way up in your current list, which is often the case, you can just directly pull the top navigation menu bar to do the same. Also when reading on iPad, switching from landscape to portrait orientation will let you read the article without the sidebar shown on screen, as expected.
A few other noteworthy features include, left/right swiping on the article to ‘mark as unread’ or starring it, tap-holding on an article in a list to mark either all the articles above or below it as read, which is something you will find yourself using all the time, when you hit a feed overload but still don’t prefer to just ‘mark all as read’, though you are allowed to do that too.
Reeder also lets you customize your reading experience by letting you adjust title & text attributes like alignment, font size, line height spacing and a toggle for gray-scale images. Unfortunately, there’s no option to change the typeface in here, which was disappointing, especially since I love reading with serif fonts. I also missed the ability to search in Reeder, especially since most premium services like Feed Wrangler already have this feature built into its API.
When it comes to sharing articles, Reeder supports an overwhelming list of services, all of which can be accessed with a simple ‘right-edge swipe’ on the article view. Although you can enable/disable the unwanted services from the settings menu, I had to navigate inside each of them separately to disable them. Instead, had the app allowed me to rearrange and disable/enable the sharing services from a single screen, I would have been happier.
Reeder is a pretty solid RSS app for your iPhone or iPad & is well worth a purchase. While some casual readers prefer apps like Flipboard, Reeder 2 is targeted more towards serious RSS users who like to subscribe and read through a lot of feeds. It is a Universal app & available on the AppStore for just $4.99.