Keeping up with an RSS reader has become so boring and monotonous that many people just stopped using their usual Gruml or NetNewsWire apps a while ago. That is, until a small app called Reeder for Mac came along, bringing the beauty and simplicity of mobile apps to the RSS reader market.
The app that we are reviewing today is called Printful, and it aims to be sort of a Reeder on steroids. How well does it work? Let’s find out.
The first time that you run the app, you’ll be shown a login screen where you can use your Printful account, create a new one or sign in using your Facebook, Google or Twitter profiles. When I tried to add my Google account, the app just kept loading without really showing me any of my items. I had to log out, create an account with Printful and add all my profiles through their website. It was a bit of an annoyance, but was what I would’ve ended up doing anyway.
I then tried accessing my account through the Mac app, and after having some problems loading my feeds, it finally displayed all of my Google Reader subscriptions, but the read/unread numbers of items were really inaccurate, and it wouldn’t display my Twitter feed (not the strongest start).
Much like Reeder for Mac, this app tries to mimic the feel and simplicity of most mobile apps by getting rid of annoying text buttons and replacing them with easy to use and fast icon buttons. Also like Reeder, there are 3 panels: one where you have your feeds, one where you have the items from the selected feed, and one where the content of the selected item is displayed.
The app is based on a combination of various tones of grey and black. It looks very simple, but also kind of dull. Every item is shown with its own images and full text, there are no “Click here to read more” links. There’s also a bar on the top, where you can find buttons to share items with Twitter, Facebook, or send them to Instapaper or Read It Later, star them or launch them in your browser.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary in this app. You have the usual features of Starring and sharing links to your social networks. The starring works as its own freestanding feature in the app and there is no connection with Google Reader’s starring feature.
You can also add any new subscription by just going to the “+” sign on the bottom, where you’ll be shown a few popular feeds like Gizmodo or Techcrunch. From here you can also search whichever feed you want, or even add a news aggregator like Reddit or Digg.
Prtinful vs. Reeder: Does It Stack Up?
Of course, the field of RSS readers has been beaten to death by developers. There’s something for everyone, and it wasn’t until recently that these simplistic mobile-looking apps came to the desktop. The most relevant app like this in the market, and the one who probably started it all, was Reeder for Mac, which came out of beta a few months ago.
Printful seems like it wants to mimic what Reeder does, but while also adding a few more features like the Facebook integration. They both have mobile versions, and they both go for the same price. The thing is, Reeder is better looking and has been tested more, so there aren’t really any noticeable flaws like there are in Printful.
Printful could be a great competitor for Reeder if given enough time, but right now it feels a little like a rushed app. Perhaps switching a cheaper price point than Reeder would help it stand out against the competition.
There are problems loading the feeds, in a bunch of ways. To be fair though, I do have about 1500+ items unread, so I guess it isn’t easy loading all of them, and some are really old.
Also, based on the pictures on their App Store profile, it seems that it is supposed to load my Instapaper and Twitter accounts as feeds, but it doesn’t do that for me.
Although it works with Google Reader, I don’t really trust trust Printful to keep up with my feeds. You can read your articles just fine, but it seems like it doesn’t sync well; not when I have unread items and not when I have read an item through the app.
I would say that right now, the ideal way of using this app is not by syncing it with your Google account, but by subscribing to your favorite feeds through the app. It will work with Google Reader, but it’s not fully functional. Let’s keep in mind that the app only has a few days out and will probably get a lot of revisions in the near future.
The idea behind Printful is great. Reeder has gotten a lot of attention and could use some strong competition. I like the fact that Printful tries to integrate what made Reeder great, along with some extra useful elements like having easy access to Twitter, Facebook and Instapaper through the app.
Unfortunately, Printful just didn’t seem ready to be sold publicly. Reeder went through many betas, and most of them worked better than this. This app is almost there, it has a great interface, great ideas behind it and most of the work is already done. There are just some small, but noticeable flaws that need to be fixed. At the moment, Printful has loads of potential, and with some careful attention from the developer, it could be great.