Following your favorite website doesn’t require checking it every hour or two for new stories. RSS readers provide one-stop websites, or applications, that gather all the posts from your favorite blogs or news portals. Several great applications exist for the Mac for organizing your RSS feeds, from Apple’s own Mail, to NewsFire, NetNewsWire and the web based Google Reader.
All of these applications (or web sites) are similar, displaying the unread stories in your feed like an e-mail inbox. However, Times provides an entirely different reading experience. Using your favorite websites, or the great set of default RSS feeds, Times formulates a digital newspaper, providing a more natural reading experience.
The first time you open up the application, it will download the latest news stories from it’s default set of feeds. The feeds are organized into five sections, Technology, World, Science, Entertainment and Sports (however these pages can be renamed or deleted).
If you’re new to the RSS world, it is very easy to add feeds: either drag the feed’s URL from your browser onto the drop zone, or add it manually. If you’re managing a lot of feeds, there is a handy search feature. Once a feed has been added, you can drag it to the section of your choosing. Times also includes both an import and export option, should you be moving from another RSS reader.
Reading and Saving
Double clicking on a story brings up the entire article, which is feature not found in most RSS readers. Because Times archives all of the articles on your computer, you can also catch up on your favorite news stories while offline, which is useful for travelers or those who aren’t always near a WiFi hotspot.
Saving articles couldn’t be easier. A handy button opens a shelf where you can drag and drop stories onto. The shelf stacks articles, one on top of the other, and is surprisingly easy to sift through, even if you have tens of stories bookmarked for later. However, there is no easy way to save multiple stories at once, requiring you to drag and drop each article onto the shelf.
Spread the News
Once you’ve found a perfect story to send to all your friends, you’re only a right click away from doing so. Times has built-in options to post the story to Twitter, e-mail to a friend, and send it to Digg, Facebook or even your blog.
It isn’t as intuitive as it could be, which may make it difficult for some users to get all the settings straight for their own account, but this connection to social networks is promising.
Newsfire and NetNewsWire are now free applications (they were previously shareware). Both offer application-wide searches for finding articles, smart folder organization options, and a dock icon that reflects the number of unread stories. NetNewsWire also offers a free iPhone compatible version, with syncing between the two devices through their News Gator service.
Google Reader is also a good alternative to Times. It offers a clean interface, ability to search for websites by name and not RSS feed URL, the ability to watch trends, and multi-platform support: viewable on a Mac, Windows computer, iPhone or just about any other web enable device.
However, none of these applications offer nearly as simple and Mac-like experience than Times.
Times is a great RSS reader, but it isn’t perfect. The intuitive layout doesn’t allow for too many RSS feeds, which may pose a problem for some users.
I enjoy using Times, which is great for checking in on the few sites I follow closely. If you’re new to RSS, Times is a great starting point, allowing you to share stories with friends through social networks and offers an easy way to save stories for later.
Times (version 1.1.3) is available now, from Acrylic Software. A single license is $30, and a 5 user family pack is available for $75.
If you got Times in the Machiest 3 bundle or have already tried it out, let me know what you think! Do you think this will beat out NetNewsWire and become the go-to RSS reader for the Mac?