I’m a huge news junkie. I run multiple RSS apps on my Mac, including Pulp and Reeder, each for different sets of RSS feeds that I subscribe to. In those rare moments that I get to step out of the office, whether I’m standing in line at the deli down the street or riding a bus downtown to meet up with my brother for lunch, I’m usually on my phone checking even more news feeds. Simply put, I drink heartily from the fountain of information that the Internet provides.
I recently stumbled across a somewhat unique RSS aggregator, and I wanted to show it to you today. Retickr is an app that lets you put together custom playlists of news feeds and display the top stories from them as a scrolling ticker on your screen. The idea is relatively novel and the execution is unique, but does Retickr have what it takes to become an arterial channel of information?
The first thing I noticed about Retickr is that it staunchly avoids almost every interface element that would make it blend in with OS X.
After much deliberation, I’ve concluded that this is effectively a double-edged sword. On one hand, the interface is sharp. The dark colors give it a sleek, modern feel, and browsing the news is a pleasant experience. On the other hand, however, its unique design makes it stick out amongst the other elements on your screen. Personally, I found this to be ultimately distracting while working, which forced me to shut it down rather than being able to ignore it, lest I end up on cnn.com when I should’ve been composing this review.
Admittedly, this is more my personal preference than a steadfast rule–if procrastination isn’t an issue for you, Retickr’s interface may not pose such a problem.
Aside from the protruding ticker, it seems as though Retickr does intend for you to have access to your news without distracting you too much. The built-in browser launches stories from your ticker without opening them in an external browser, which allows you to get the news you want and then get back to work, quickly.
Setting Up Retickr
When you launch Retickr for the first time, you’ll be asked to sign in. You’ll have to create an account, but the Remember Me tick box will keep you from having to log in every time you launch the app.
The dashboard (pictured in the previous section) greets you with a welcome message, some interesting statistics about feed usage, and a hand-picked “Feed of the Day”. In the right-hand sidebar is your collection of playlists, which are set to a few defaults until you edit them.
Retickr functions on this premise of the “playlist”. Each playlist can contain any number of feeds from various news sources to your social media feeds (requires you to login with Facebook and/or Twitter). The idea here is that your informational needs might change throughout the day, so you can adjust the information streaming across your screen accordingly.
To build a new playlist (or edit an existing one), you’ll need to find feeds to add. You can search by name using the search bar in the upper right corner, or you can click the “Browse” button.
From here, you can choose feeds from the Top 100 list, various categories, or your social media accounts that you’ve authorized to interact with Retickr. Once your playlist is tailored just the way you want it, simply click the play button on the playlist in the sidebar, and stories will begin scrolling along the ticker in chronological order.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a way to import your own feeds. Searching for them sometimes turns up results, but I found the less established sources to be a bit wonky. Hopefully this gets resolved in future versions.
Finally, make sure that Retickr behaves the way you want it to with the Settings menu. The ticker can be set to scroll along the top or bottom of your screen, as well as vertically on either side. The pace can be set to fast or slow, but I found the fastest speed to be almost too fast to be of any use. Lastly, if you like to stay current, you can tell Retickr to only display news of a certain age.
I think Retickr would be better suited for someone with a larger monitor or a multi-screen setup (I’m working with a 13″ MBP over here). That being said, I do enjoy using it, and it will likely find it’s way onto my desktop during my more relaxed hours of the day when I’m not in full-on work mode.
The best thing about Retickr, I think, is that it joins a small number of apps that show us that RSS feeds don’t need to be displayed in the hierarchical format that we’re so used to. And with a price tag of free, there’s no reason not to give it a shot and see what you think. Let us know if Retickr works for your feed reading needs!