My feed reading habitsFor me feed reading is an online activity. I mainly read news feeds with many small items, where one frequently needs to follow up by browsing the web. Hence, the perfect user interface for me has three levels:
- Level 1: All feeds, in a tree whose inner nodes are the folders and whose leaves are the feeds.
- Level 2 (master): All of a feeds items.
- Level 3 (detail): The currently selected feed item.
Any feed reader should sync its state (subscribed feeds, read items, etc.) across devices. The best way to do so is currently to simply sync with Google Reader. That has the added advantage that one can always temporarily use Google Reader (e.g. on a desktop computer).
Web-based solutionsThe problem with web-based solutions is that they often don’t work well with the iPad. I’ve tried several ones, the most promising was Newsblur. But its structure wasn’t quite what I wanted and it doesn’t support the iPad well. I’ve heard good things about Fever, but haven’t checked it out, because I didn’t want to install server-side software (I have gotten lazy and avoid this kind of activity whenever I can).
AppsThe following iPad apps were most interesting. All of them sync with Google Reader.
- Reeder ($4.99): looks nice, but its newspaper-style user interface quickly becomes cluttered when there are many feeds with many unread items.
- NetNewsWire ($9.99): good, but does not allow me to mark an item as unread. No Retina display support.
- Feeddler (free with ads): interesting, but does not show item list and item content side by side.
- Byline (free with ads): ended up being my final choice. Nitpicks are minor (no Retina support, feed tree cannot be reordered, item list not permanently displayed in portrait mode).