Unread, developed by Jared Sinclair, is my new favorite RSS reader for iPhone. Unread is on my Home screen, on the same spot that Reeder held since late 2009 when I first reviewed it. Unread provides a fantastic mix of elegant typography, intuitive gesture-based, one-handed navigation, iOS 7 features, and modern sharing tools that, in my opinion, make it the best RSS reader for iPhone today.
The Sound Of Settling
I’ve been using Reeder for over four years, and the app hasn’t changed much. It received interface refinements through the years and support for more RSS services was added after Google Reader’s demise in 2013, but it’s no secret that, for months, Reeder stagnated, with no updates to reassure users that Silvio Rizzi still had big plans for the app. Not that the lack of updates was a problem per se: Reeder was a great app and it always kept working, but seven months without updates on the iPhone and the removal of the iPad and Mac versions from the App Store didn’t suggest that Reeder was on track for major changes.
In September 2013, just a week before iOS 7, Rizzi released Reeder 2, a new app for iPhone and iPad. Reeder 2 brought a completely new UI for the iPad and an evolution of the iPhone’s one, leveraging new animations and transitions for navigation inside feeds and articles. My review wasn’t completely positive: while I lauded the app’s speed, elegance, and familiarity, I also stressed that, in the age of Mr. Reader, Reeder for iPad was too little, too late for my workflow. I concluded by saying that Reeder was a “beautiful and familiar app that could have taken bigger risks”. In spite of the fresh(ish) coat of paint, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Reeder 2 wasn’t exactly new or advancing the basics of the app in meaningful ways.
Especially if you’ve been waiting for an update to Reeder for iPad, maybe a redesigned Reeder that doesn’t go crazy with new features but that instead brings a cleaner reading and syncing experience is exactly what you wanted from Rizzi. Reeder 2 is a fine piece of software – it certainly looks and works better than the majority of RSS clients on the App Store – but my hope was that Rizzi would include new functionalities in the sharing and browsing departments. I guess that, with Reeder 2, I was expecting the same impact that Reeder 1 had in 2009, whereas what I found was a beautiful, solid, but familiar (and trite, in some areas) take on the same app.
I was hopeful that the new foundation would give Rizzi time to regroup and evaluate how Reeder could add new iOS 7 features without losing its nature in the process, but, four months and a 2.1 update later, things haven’t changed much. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – good software takes time, especially when you’re an indie developer – but, as a user, I was curious to see whether other RSS readers could satisfy my news-reading needs better.
Hence, Unread. (more…)