I’ve always been a fan of RSS readers. Right back when XML was starting out and RSS feeds became the norm on blogs & websites, I would use an RSS reader to aggregate the posts from my favourite sites & blogs. Back then I’d access them for offline viewing on my palm pilot or O2 XDA (well before smart phones we had palm tops such as the XDA and companies like Palm who provided me with the Palm IIIc where huge). The advantage of RSS was the fact that posts could be pulled in from loads of different sources, without the need to go checking each individual site. For people like me, who are obsessed with the latest information, this was a game changer. Also, back then, most RSS feeds consisted off the full text of the article, including pictures, making it easy to aggregate blog posts and news posts for viewing offline. This was the days of extremely limited GPRS access which was extremely slow & costly. So syncing for offline viewing was the norm.
Then came iPhones, smartphones, tablets and smart watches. All relying on a 3G or 4G signal and constantly connected to the internet. People stopped syncing content to their devices and started relying on mobile connectivity. For many reasons, this was the prefered business model for all hardware and software vendors. It meant services like Spotify could rent music to you without ownership ever being offered. People could stream from Netflix and Amazon prime without ever owning their content. The media software companies had a lucrative never-ending revenue stream and the mobile network vendors had endless data usage to keep them in cash. Nirvana for those who would rather lease content than own it.
Having been born in the early eighties & being interested in tech since the ZX spectrum, I’ve always approached things differently. I prefer ownership, I really dislike streaming anywhere other than on a solid broadband connection, I like to have content which is available offline. I travel a lot, I like my MP3’s to be stored on my iPod, my ebooks stored on my kindle and my laptop to be stuffed with movies that are available offline. I like ownership of my content. No chance of changing terms and conditions, and access anywhere on the planet regardless of connectivity.
So we bring it back to RSS. With my web content I’d moved more towards the Spotify model. I would visit websites as & when I remembered, but I’d only have access to that content while online, so often I failed to even check websites from one month to the next. I forgot about many of the gems I used to read daily with RSS. The blog posts I’d read on my XDA or my Palm IIIc while traveling (because the wider internet & social media weren’t available on the go, so I’d actually read real in-depth content). I had become a 140 character junkie, only ever reading a synopsis or an extract. I became aware of a lot of subjects but an expert in non of them. It was time to find a new RSS reader & start reading full length content again.
I searched high & low for a decent RSS reader & I finally settled on Reeder for OSX and OS Sierra. I also have the same app for my iPhone, but I’ll review that separately. Reeder is a fully featured RSS reader. It can show standard RSS feeds, but it can also download full articles, even when the RSS feed is extract only. I guess it does this by visiting the websites canonical link and downloading the full article. Reeder displays your RSS feeds much like an email client. You get all of your post titles/headlines in the left pane and you get the article text in the right pane.
The advantage of an RSS reader like Reeder is that it strips out formatting and presents text in an easy to read format, complete with pictures. It does strip out adverts from content which can be a plus, especially when saving bandwidth & from a privacy standpoint.
With regards features, one of the features I most use is the integration with Feedly. To save me setting up my RSS feeds on every machine I use, I setup a free feedly account and added all of my RSS feeds to the one account. Then, using your feedly credentials in Reeder, you can sync your feedly account and view all of your RSS feeds in the reeder app. Reeder downloads all of your RSS articles for offline viewing & can be set to sync at intervals of your choice. Articles can be set to disappear when read, enabling you to concentrate on fresh content. The built-in mercury reader is ideal for displaying richer full text articles & the reading themes, much like you get in an e-book app or within a reading extension like reader view in Firefox allow you to set the page and text colour and adjust font size and style for easier reading. I find a larger font on a black background allows me to read a lot of content without fatigue. I do like the formatting controls available.
The benefit of RSS is that I don’t have to remember to check websites for new articles. The content is aggregated, sorted and formatted for me to read. I rarely miss an important story in my field now & I’m generally more informed than I have been for years. I always relied on RSS during my university studies to stay current and at the bleeding edge. I’m disappointed that I let this habit of reading RSS be replaced by individual apps and a generally bloated reading experience & would recommend RSS to anyone wanting to regain control of their informative content.
Reeder has a ton of features which I’ve probably not even come across yet. My favourite so far is the Mercury reader. If an RSS feed is just a post extract, asking you to click to read more, simply pressing the G key on your keyboard will fetch the full text from the website & format it in seconds, without the need to visit the website.
Reeder also has extensive sharing features, so if you are an influencer or expert on social media, it’s a great way to find & share relevant articles with your peers. Sharing to services such as Evernote, Twitter, Facebook and Buffer are baked right into the application and allow you to share an article in seconds. Great for growing your online reputation as an influencer.
Reeder supports a lot of RSS feed services such as Feedly, Feedbin, feed wrangler and Feed HQ, and also allows integration into services such as Instapaper for read later functionality. If you prefer to manage your RSS feeds yourself, either for privacy or maybe you only use a single device, than you can add any RSS feed locally without the need for third-party support.
Overall, Reeder has completely changed my information retrieval habits. It’s a flashback to 10 years ago for me as I’ve strayed more and more into individual apps for news and neglected a lot of the awesome blogs & news sites I used to frequently read through RSS.
If you are new to RSS I highly recommend you check it out. The modern web can mean we are bombarded with information. Information overload can lead to people switching off completely from website content and just sticking to their social feeds, but I guarantee if you find bloggers & websites who write about subjects you are passionate about, you will benefit greatly from reading full text articles over tweets and snippets.
Reeder is the perfect choice for those already interest in RSS or those wanting to streamline their information consumption. Offline availability is vital to me. My feeds may provide 1000 articles a day, 100 of which I may read. Now that I can get them offline I can read them on the go. I can remain offline and read without distractions, I can catch up on them on the plane or train. If I’m delayed in an airport, I can read offline content rather than paying for overpriced wi-fi to access sub par apps and tweets.
Please do check out this app. It is a premium product for Mac OS and does carry a £9.99 price tag in the apple app store for Mac OS, but it’s a worthy investment and will radically change how you consume information.
Remember, you can always subscribe to this site via RSS, might be your first subscription 🙂
Now some pictures of Reeder in use.