I’ve been using Reeder since the very beginning, since back when it was just a wee little app with no subscription management or automatic refresh.
Since that first public beta, reeder has grown from a buggy iOS port to a fully-featured, beautiful Google Reader client. There’s no shortage of Mac RSS applications, and many have developed loyal fanbases across many niches. In this crowded market, can reeder really offer something new?
Layout and Design
Reeder features a richly detailed, iOS-inspired design, with many customizable options, allowing you to browse through your articles as you please. The default layout is a typical three-column affair with columns for subscription list, article list, and preview/browser pane. You can also browse Reeder in a minimized, two-column layout, which only shows full articles when double-clicked.
You can customize the details of Reeder’s appearance, from color and texture to font size and contrast. My only minor complaint here is that the app window is dimmed when you’re customizing the appearance, so you can’t really tell what the color looks like.
Reeder’s interface is well-designed and straight-forward: the reduced layout features only the bare minimum of buttons, allowing you to view starred, unread, or all articles. By default, clicking the “mark all as read” icon (the checkmark) has a confirmation prompt, which is a little annoying, but can be removed in preferences. Reeder’s interface is customizable to the point that that you can change pretty much anything you don’t like about it to suit your own preferences.
Without a doubt my favourite feature of Reeder is the customizable multi-touch support. Without setting any preferences, the multi-touch interactions work pretty intuitively and are really a joy to use. Use three fingers to scroll through unread articles, swipe with three fingers to view an article in minimized layout, or view an article in the built-in browser in the classic layout. I have gestures set up to open an article in Chrome when I pinch open, and send to ReadItLater when I pinch closed.
“Swipe to Navigate” has to be enabled under System Preferences / Trackpad or Mouse for full multi-touch support. Full support currently only works for multi-touch trackpad, and ther is limited support (swipe left and swipe right) for Magic Mouse.
Multi-touch support is completely customizable, I have it set up so that I can browse my articles without a single click or keystroke. It feels super futuristic.
If you’d rather go the keyboard route than the multi-touch route, Reeder’s keyboard shortcuts feature even more options than gestures. Reeder uses simple keyboard shortcuts without the cmnd prefix, which will be familiar to users of Google’s web apps.
Integration with Services and Other Features
Reeder supports integration with a slew of bookmarking and offline reading services, including Readability, Instapaper, ReadItLater, Pinboard, Delicious, Zootool and Twitter. You can customize which services appear in the toolbar, and which ones are activated with specified gestures or keyboard shortcuts.
Reeder features full support for Web and Mobile web reading app Readability, which functions much like apps like Instapaper or ReadItLater, but with direct browser integration that allows you to view any article on the web in a clutter-free environment. Readability charges a monthly fee for accessing their “read it later” feature, and 70% of your fee goes to writers and publishers to compensate them for allowing content to be viewed without ads. Within Reeder, you can use Readability to filter out ads in RSS posts (though I found this feature inconsistent) and to pre-load full articles from partial-feed posts (allowing you to get around feeds that only let you read a “teaser” from your RSS reader). I found the “toggle readability” feature a bit confusing and couldn’t always tell what it was doing. You can also send articles to your reading list as you can for similar apps.
Google Reader Features
Reeder supports Google Reader features like sharing and notes, shared articles and those with notes can be viewed in the “all articles” view, and notes appear at the top of articles. After adding a note, however, I found it didn’t always show up right away.
The Little Things
Reeder excels in attention to detail, from the smoothly animated interactions to the unread article count displayed on the side of the icon. Though there may be other RSS readers with more powerful features (like more fully featured subscription management) I think the beautifully designed details more than make up for it.
Using Reeder is like interacting with the future of Mac applications, the developer has taken all the best parts of mobile development, including a gesture-based, simplified interface, and seamlessly integrated them with the power and flexibility of a desktop application. The result is an intuitive and enjoyable experience with all the functionality you need in an RSS reader.
In this crowded category, Reeder sets itself apart in a number of ways. The multi-touch interface is probably the most unique and innovative element of Reeder, but its seamless integration with all the major bookmarking services gives it a broad appeal to all types of users. Reeder’s extensive customization options allow you to read your news as you please, without having to learn a new set of keyboard shortcuts or gestures.
I had largely given up on RSS a couple months ago, using Vienna felt more like checking my email than keeping up with the latest news. As we transition away from traditional news sources like newspapers and magazines, there is room to craft a new user experience of the consumption of current media, and Reeder feels very much like a big step in this direction. Without falling back on a predictable newspaper-inspired interface, Reeder offers a truly enjoyable way to keep up with your favourite content in a way that feels engaging and new, and is not merely an attempt to replace traditional media with a close digital analog.