THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Concepts

Sketch, Note, Draw


Unread 1.5 Adds iOS 8 Share Sheet, 1Password Support

Originally created by Jared Sinclair and later acquired by Supertop, Unread is one of the few reading apps that’s been unmistakably built for the age of multitouch. By abstracting traditional UI complexities from an RSS reader to achieve a purity of text and images, Unread features an excellent reading experience on the iPhone and iPad with comfortable gestures that make the app feel natural, fresh, and useful.

As I wrote last year, lauding Unread’s use of gestures:

When taken all together, the fast transitions, large touch targets, and action menu make for a solid one-handed experience that doesn’t require me to stretch my thumb across the screen to perform actions or navigate. When I want to share or star an article, for instance, I can swipe in the middle of the screen to quickly reveal the action menu, then tap on the share/star cell – not the icon itself all the way to the right – to activate that specific action. It’s a small detail, but it makes the app faster and easier to use. Unread is a pleasure to operate because it’s fast, accessible, and clear.

And again, when Unread came to the iPad:

When reading, the iPad makes Unread feel like an Instapaper-esque read-later app: the entire screen is just words with no toolbars or other extraneous interface elements. The effect is refreshing: while many RSS readers try to get away with the larger screen by adding features and menus (and thus complexity), Sinclair stripped away as much as possible and the result is a clean, friendly reading environment. If you care about reading articles rather than quickly skimming them or creating complex sharing actions, Unread feels great on the iPad.

For the past four months, I’ve been using NewsBlur as my RSS service of choice (more on this soon), and in my transition to the service I also stopped using Unread and switched to NewsBlur’s official app. However, today’s 1.5 update to Unread, which I’ve been using for the past week, has reminded me of the app’s exquisite reading experience and use of gestures – something that I’ve been missing from NewsBlur’s utilitarian and power-user approach.

Notably, the new Unread drops the custom sharing options first built by Sinclair to adopt iOS 8’s new share sheet – a welcome step forward for sharing links and text from the app. Now, instead of having to fiddle with a proprietary sharing menu, you’ll be able to swipe left anywhere within an article and then tap ‘Share’ to view the system share sheet with all your configured extensions; you can also highlight text from an article and tap & hold links to bring up the share sheet.

As a big proponent of extensions on iOS, I can only appreciate Supertop’s decision to modernize Unread with share and action extensions. Using the share sheet sacrifices some UI consistency – Apple’s share sheet clashes with Unread’s polished interface quite a bit, unlike the old options – but, for now, it’s a trade-off worth accepting to have modern, user-controlled extensions as complements to articles. Personally, I don’t want to go back to custom sharing menus in any of my apps, and I like the comfort of Unread’s sloppy gestures to open the share sheet – which can be particularly enjoyed on the 6 Plus’ big display.

The other highlight from this release is the addition of a Readability view to fetch the full text from a truncated RSS feed. Fortunately, I’m subscribed to websites that tend to do the right thing and offer full-text articles in their feeds, but I tried Readability with a couple of sites that truncate their feeds, and it worked well, except that it stripped images from the text it loaded. That was annoying with product reviews – you want the full text and you also want the accompanying images, but you can’t have both.

I’m subscribed to about 200 feeds, and I love skimming headlines and reading long articles in Unread. The app has been cleverly designed for both experiences in mind: tasteful typographic choices make reading a focused and pleasant affair, but the option to display thumbnails and control font sizes in the article list helps those who just want to glance at headlines and move on.

In my week with the updated Unread, I remembered why I enjoy this app so much. Gestures are comfortable and useful on both the iPhone and iPad, and while I won’t be able to stop using the NewsBlur app because of native features like training and Focus mode, the nature of RSS allows me to move between apps at any time, choosing the reading environment I prefer.

Unread 1.5 is available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.