RSS service Feedly, one of the most popular alternatives to Google Reader that quickly hit 12 million users after the shutdown of Google's service, has today started rolling out a Pro version that, starting at $5 per month, will enable search, Evernote integration, HTTPS navigation, and premium support for users. However, there's a catch: Feedly Pro's regular $5/month subscription ($45 annually) will be available publicly for everyone this Fall; today, the company has launched a $99 Feedly Pro lifetime membership that will unlock the Pro features, forever, for the first 5000 users.
As a daily Evernote user and fan of RSS apps that implement full article search, I was curious to try out the initial feature set of Feedly Pro, so I purchased the lifetime membership this morning. My first impression is that, overall, the Pro features will add value to the service for power users, but they will need several improvements and refinements. Feedly says that, in the future, Pro users will be able to directly vote for the features they want to see in the service.
Article search is based on a search bar that's accessible from the top right corner of the Feedly web app (right now, the only one to get the Pro features; third-party developers who use the Feedly API will receive access to Pro features "soon") in the All view or any category or feed page. With search, you can look for a specific keyword inside your articles, and I like how Feedly lets you look inside every feed (under All) a category (folder, e.g. "Apple blogs"), or a feed; in this way, I can run a general search that queries my entire set of feeds or one that tries to find a keyword inside a single website's stream.
My problem with the implementation of Feedly search right now is that it's limited to simple keyword search: you can't save recurring searches, there's no result highlighting, and you can't specify whether you want to look for a keyword in an article's title or body. I understand that a full-text search functionality is a challenge for a service that is still growing and adding resources, so perhaps this initial lifetime campaign will help Feedly enhance search with more flexibility and user-defined criteria before the public launch of Feedly Pro. For now, I'm going to stick with Feed Wrangler's Smart Streams, which provide a handy mix of keyword search plus website filters and can be accessed from third-party clients.
One-click Evernote integration allows you to save an article's text as a new note into an Evernote notebook of your choice. Once authorized, Feedly will present a list of Evernote notebooks in a dropdown menu, with an option to create a new notebook if you don't want to use any of the existing ones.
Again, I think Evernote integration is a nice addition for power users who also rely on Evernote, but I'd like to have more control over it. For instance, notebooks don't seem to be sorted in order of frequency of use (only alphabetical order is supported), there are no Evernote-related keyboard shortcuts in the web app, and you can't highlight text to only save that selection into Evernote (Feedly already has a special contextual menu for selected text). In spite of the aforementioned lack of more advanced options, I'm glad that Feedly decided to directly integrate with Evernote, and I like how articles are saved as rich text (with clickable links) stripped out of unnecessary elements, with a source URL pointing to the original feed entry, and not Feedly.
If you're curious to try out Feedly Pro, I'd recommend waiting until the public $5/month plan coming this Fall, as the company will likely have time to gather initial feedback and see how they can adjust the Pro features to meet more power users' needs. I think that offering a premium subscription is the right move for Feedly, but I also believe that search and Evernote integration will start showing their potential and utility only when made available through the API to apps like Reeder, ReadKit, Mr. Reader, and other third-party clients.
You can sign up for Feedly Pro's lifetime membership today here.