In the wake, RSS is seeing another revival of sorts. We believe curling up to your RSS feeds should be much like curling up to a good book, so Unread is our pick in this regard. Find Out More…. I found it depressing whenever anyone suggested that RSS was dying because I honestly think it is one of the greatest inventions in the history of reading.
What is the RSS feed?
You get to hand-pick a series of feeds that will then send you articles to read, and instead of piling up around you, like magazines and newspapers of yore, the articles magically disappear after you read them, replaced by a fresh batch. The execution of that concept took a while to find its proper form.
In retrospect, making RSS feeds look like email was a terrible idea. Email comes from work, creates obligation, and makes you feel guilty. I was working as a journalist when I first started using Google Reader, and I subscribed to a wide variety of feeds that I thought would make me more well-informed.
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Instead, every time I opened the app, I felt overwhelmed with the massive volume of my inadequacy. RSS is an amazing service for finding new things to read, but it can also be overwhelming. No matter how good the iPad may be for reading, or how good the iPhone is at processing long lists of feeds, having the right app makes moving through countless RSS items easy and efficient. It was incredibly fast at the time, and with its trademark, slightly textured off-white paper-themed design, it made RSS feel like the rough-cut pages of an old hardback book.
The design of Reeder has changed a bit over the years. The developer completely rewrote the app after the demise of Google Reader in the summer of and brought it in line with iOS 7 conventions. The result is an app that has a few more features and a bit less personality. Among the features gained over the years are the ability to add RSS subscriptions and reorganize subscriptions from within the app. Gone are the speckled paper fiber textures. Instead, you can choose one of a few fairly neutral themes. The latest true black theme for the iPhone X, for instance, was introduced shortly after the iPhone X launched.
One of the standout features of the app is what you can do with a swipe. From the main reading view, if you swipe from right to left, Reeder will immediately load the webpage in a browser. Swipe left to right and you return to the RSS version. The swipe also has special powers in the list view. While scrolling through the list of items in your feed, you can swipe across an item to take action on it, and the actions you take are user-configurable. Sliding right or sliding left across an item can be configured to either mark the item as read, mark it as starred, or send it to a number of different services, Instapaper, Pocket, Reading List, etc.
You can also take these actions upon the item itself from the article view, but doing so through the list view speeds up the process dramatically. When Unread was originally developed, then-owner Jared Sinclair discussed how he wanted an RSS app for the iPhone that could be used top-to-bottom with one hand, as he often had to nurse a baby at night and wanted to catch up on news at that time of the day. The list view is confined to such a small space that none of the individual items have room to breathe, and if you select one of those items while remaining in the list view, the item itself gets cut off on the right hand side, which just feels cluttered.
Ultimately, the only space in which I enjoy using Reeder on the iPad is the article view, which feels confining and seems like a wasted opportunity on the iPad. Aside from the sliding panes and somewhat cramped interface, the biggest area of concern we have for Reeder is its development schedule. Updates do come out to support the latest screen sizes and RSS service providers, but the last major update to Reeder for iPhone and iPad was version 3.
Most RSS apps are patterned after email. Noisy parades of dots, dates, and tags trample over their screens. Their source lists look like overflowing inboxes instead of stately tables of contents. Toolbars bristling with options obscure the text. Putting it bluntly, using these apps feels like work…I made Unread because I wanted to get back to a more deliberate style of reading. I designed it for times of quiet focus. With warm typography and a sparse interface, it invites me to return to the way I used to read before I fell into the bad habit of skimming and forgetting. But, as good as Unread is on the iPhone, I prefer reading on my tablet, and Unread shines on the bigger screen.
There are no buttons inviting you to mark the item, star the item, or send the item elsewhere, or even to move to the next item. Going from Reeder to Unread, I felt as if I was getting slightly more oxygen through the clarity of the interface. The app includes two settings that make this process even easier. Then, if you want to read an item, you can tap on it. If you tap and hold an item, you have the option of going straight to the web to read it. This is especially nice for feeds that only offer partial articles.
The end result is that you can scroll through a relatively large number of items and consciously select those you actually want to read. Unread then gives you an ideal reading environment in which to do just that. When you upgrade to the full-featured Unread app, you gain access to the full library of all 13 themes.
No matter where you find yourself wanting to read your RSS feeds, Unread has a theme that fits. In order to avoid surrounding the interface with buttons, Unread relies on a number of gestures. Swiping left to right follows the now conventional action of returning you to your previous screen, but swiping right to left calls up a number of possible new actions, which are different based on the context. In the list view, swiping right to left gives you options such as refreshing the feed or marking everything in the feed as read.
Swiping right to left in the article view gives you options such as marking the item as read, viewing it on the web, or sharing it to one of any number of services.
The 10 Best Free RSS Reader Apps in 2018
In the web view, you can also swipe to call up the option for sharing or using the Readability view, and since some webpages have unswipeable mobile webviews, Unread gives you two little swipeable areas at the bottom of the screen. You also have the ability to call up certain actions with long taps. Long tapping an item in the list view brings up options to save it, share it, or mark it as read. Long tapping an image in an article gives you the option to view in fullscreen, share the image, save to camera roll, or copy the image URL. Keeping the buttons out of sight also forces you to be slightly more intentional about using them.
Perhaps the biggest feature missing from Unread is the ability to manage your feeds. This means users will need to visit their RSS service of choice on the web to add or change subscription information.
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While this is not a deal-breaker, it can be annoying on an iPad. I also quibble with the text size in the app. Unread does not give you the option of changing the font, but you can change the size of the text in any of the different views. And yet, they all feel a little too big to me. I love the way the retina screen displays tiny text, so I want truly tiny. Processing and discovering great content for reading is still done in a more efficient manner in apps like Reeder and Fiery Feeds.
For anyone who purchased the previous version of Unread, you can unlock the new version for free. Fiery Feeds is a relatively new player on the RSS block that provides many of the latest features from RSS providers in a fast, well-designed app. Fiery Feeds has been used by power users for many years thanks to its custom functionality to share articles with other apps. With the launch of Fiery Feeds 2, developer Lukas Burgstaller modernized the app to feel more at home on iOS 11, the iPhone X, and the iPad Pro, and also introduced a premium subscription service for users who want more from their RSS app.
Fiery Feeds is, first and foremost, a power user app, full of advanced and custom functionality for processing RSS feeds. When Burgstaller updated the app to version 2. When I first discovered Fiery Feeds, I was surprised to find the main list view and navigational menus on the right side of the iPad screen. It completely caught me off guard and felt a bit odd, until I realized that I hold the iPad with my right hand most of the time and having the menu on the right side allowed for easier navigation through the app.
Now, I actually prefer having the menu on the right side. However, you can always move the menu over to the left side if you want. There are a multitude of buttons in Fiery Feeds, potentially introducing an overwhelming first impression. Each featured app is either completely free, or it offers a free plan that rivals the features of most premium plans on the market. Web apps: This is opposed to native RSS apps that sync feeds directly to your device. The apps featured below are all web apps—though some notable native apps are included in sidebars when relevant.
A traditional RSS reader app does two things: We excluded any apps that use an algorithm to determine the order in which posts are displayed e. But for sites that have elected to show full-text, RSS readers should display the entire article, unless not having full text is a specific feature that provides value to users e. We eliminated any apps that placed access to full-text—when made available by the publisher—behind a premium plan paywall. One of the major goals of using an RSS reader app is to simplify the process of seeing content from multiple sites.
The apps we chose make it easy to perform basic RSS app functions like following your favorite sites, organizing your feeds into meaningful categories, saving articles, and marking articles as read. Feedly is one of the first RSS reader apps you'll hear mentioned if you ask people how they follow sites today. It's not hard to see why—its clean and simple interface is a great solution for both casual readers who just want to see all of their websites in one place and power users who want to take advantage of every feature RSS apps have to offer. Feedly's free plan offers most of the features casual readers need.
Follow up to sources, sort the sites you follow into topical categories, watch YouTube videos, and read full-text articles when available in a distraction-free, minimalist view. Plus, Feedly offers mobile apps for Android and iOS devices, so you can access subscriptions easily both at home and on the go. But Feedly is also incredibly scalable, giving you the tools you need to do more than just curate and aggregate content.
Upgrade to the Pro plan to search your feeds, get Google Keyword Alerts alongside your subscriptions, add notes to content, and highlight important passages. This is great for professionals who want to use their RSS app as a research hub. Share feeds, boards, notes, and highlights with other members of your team so you can all collaborate to uncover interesting research and share ideas.
If you have to leave your RSS app and visit the source website to view the full text of an article, it's most likely a setting from the publisher and not a limitation set by the RSS provider. Feedly Price: Automate Feedly with Feedly's Zapier integrations. Want to look at posts from your favorite social sharers in your RSS app alongside the blogs and channels you follow? Once your feed is set up, just add it to your RSS reader app to get all of your favorite content in one place. With a free NewsBlur account, you can subscribe to up to 64 different feeds, read full-text content of those sites in its web reader, and save stories to read or access in the future.
And you don't even need to click that much while reading in NewsBlur. Just keep scrolling: Articles display one after another for action-free reading. But NewsBlur's most interesting feature is its sophisticated filtering, which can automatically highlight or hide stories based on certain criteria. If you spend some time training your filters, the system will learn your preferences and try to surface the stories that interest you most. That way, you can subscribe to as many sites as you want—even the ones that publish articles a day—and still only see the content you're interested in.
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NewsBlur also lets you share your favorite stories, either on social networks or inside of NewsBlur. Within the app, you can add stories that you read and like to your personal "blurblog," or find people with similar interests and follow their blurblogs as well. Or, you can run NewsBlur on your own server for free.
NewsBlur Price: Want offline access to your feeds? Inoreader is one of the most feature-packed free RSS readers on this list. Without paying a cent, you can follow an unlimited number of feeds, and you can even search within your subscriptions without paying for a premium plan.
And while most RSS apps only cache content for the short-term, Inoreader doesn't have limited time archives. Your content—even the stuff you've already read—is stored permanently. To stay organized, you can group your feeds in folders and use tags to separate out individual articles as you read them. This makes Inoreader a great tool for power users, but it's very accessible for beginners as well.
After signing up, you're guided through a tutorial that shows you how to use the app's major features, making it easy to get up and running even if you have no previous RSS experience. If you upgrade to one of Inoreader's premium plans, you get even more features. Inoreader Price: If you and your friends all enjoy reading the same types of content, The Old Reader makes it easy to share your recommendations with each other. Just connect your Facebook or Google account, follow friends who also have accounts, and The Old Reader will show you content recommended by your friends.
This is a great way to discover new blogs, sites, and channels to follow—as well as share your favorites with your friends. And even if you don't have any friends using The Old Reader to connect with, you can check out the content in its "Trending" tab to see a list of the pieces that have received the most recent likes from other people who use The Old Reader. View full-text articles when available, read all posts in reverse chronological order, and subscribe to as many as feeds.
But if you want full-text search functionality, need to follow more than feeds, or prefer to use the app without ads, you'll need to upgrade to Premium. The Old Reader Price: Bloglovin' is the Pinterest of RSS reader apps. While it lets you follow your favorite blogs and publications like every other app on this list, it's designed much more like a social media site than some of the other featured RSS readers.
It has a clean, image-focused design, "love" and comment buttons on every post, and a card layout that makes the app feel very modern. You can even use Bloglovin' to publish your own blog directly on the platform and share your ideas with others. Like Pinterest, Bloglovin' also lets you create your own personal collections of content. If you're planning a wedding, redesigning your house, or just looking for new crafting ideas, create a collection in Bloglovin' and add any relevant content you find to that collection.
Then, when you need inspiration or are looking for ideas, head to your collections to see all of the content you've saved. Like all of the other tools on this list, Netvibes is an RSS app that lets you follow your favorite publications and view their posts in reverse chronological order.
Potions are custom workflows with triggers and actions. But with a Netvibes Potion, you can get even more granular. For example, create a feed that only shows mentions of your brand, or get a feed of all posts that use a specific hashtag. Netvibes supports more than 38 trigger apps currently, including sites like Twitter, Medium, Reddit, and Slack.
Just set the trigger to monitor the specific site and action you're interested in, then set your RSS feed as your action. When you're finished, all of the mentions that meet your trigger criteria show up in your feed alongside any publications you're following. The end result: Netvibes Price: