Unread — This Is It

Unread — This Is It

Sure Google Reader is dead and many folks stopped bothering with RSS after that. Twitter may seem like a place to consume news and in many cases it is the best place to see news break in real time. Having been late to the Google Reader party, Reeder was the app that got me into RSS feeds and the backend didn’t really matter as long as it worked. When Google announced the impending death of Reader, I had to look elsewhere for a sync solution. Reeder development seemed to be dormant as well at that time. A lot of people turned to Feedly. Having learnt my lesson with relying on free services, I decided to try Feedbin, Fever and Feed Wrangler. On iPad, Mr Reader is basically the cream of the crop. Nothing comes close to it. On iPhone, I’ve been using Ashes, Reeder, Fiery among others. Most good RSS apps across platforms support the three services I listed above and also Feedly. Most people are content with Reeder for iPhone, but I have been waiting for something I really like for a while. That wait is over.

When Jared Sinclair of Riposte fame told me he was developing an RSS reader for iPhone, I instantly needed to have it. Riposte for iPhone has an insanely great feel to it with its best in class singled handed gesticular navigation implementation. Unread, like Riposte, has a great feel to it.

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It relies heavily on gestures and boasts excellent typography. Unread uses the font family Whitney from H&FJ. It comes with 2 themes (and there are 5 hidden themes). The first thing you will notice about the app and its two themes is how the status bar isn’t unified with the navigation bar like almost every iOS 7 app. There’s also a bar at the bottom of the same colour as the status bar that shows you your position or path in the app. Unread does not use buttons in its interface for the most part and relies on a swipe from right to left to give you options. You can go back to the previous view or page in the app by swiping from left to right and unlike iOS 7 that needs an edge swipe which is sometimes hard to do, Unread allows swiping from any part of the screen. I really wish the OS allowed this but I know many apps would break. It just feels right.

Swiping to the left has a pull to refresh style animation that follows your swipe and slides in the actions in addition to a Back To Browser button that is there on every action sheet. You can change the app theme at any time with this swipe. Out of the two themes available from the get go, I like the night theme a lot more than the day theme. The share button is available in the action sheet and it uses OvershareKit by Jared and Justin so there is a wealth of services and apps you can share your articles to from within Unread. The animations used in the app are subtle but meaningful because they really add that small bit of liveliness to the app. Articles have beautiful full screen reading modes and both bars recede to bring the content to the forefront. The reading experience is amazing. I only wish you could navigate to the next article without having to swipe back.

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The in-app settings in the extras allow you to set sync options, how unread counts are displayed, display options, sharing accounts, and the share sheet actions. Jared also has explained his philosophy behind his decisions regarding the app here and inside the app.

In its current public state, Unread is my favourite RSS reader for iPhone. It has a few visual bugs and issues that have been thankfully fixed for an upcoming release. There are a few things like being able to switch between articles quickly, more sync service options like Fever that hold it back from getting a perfect score from me. It does however outclass the other apps with its gorgeous looks and typography and overall feel. Unread was supposed to be an app that lets you peacefully read through a few feeds but I still enjoy using it with hundreds of subscriptions. Unread is available on the App Store for $2.99.

Mikhail Madnani is the acting Editor-in-Chief of Beautiful Pixels. He’s usually the one making sure so many weather apps get reviewed when he isn’t playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or Hearthstone.