iOS is littered with news reader applications, ranging from the unexceptional and standard to the innovative and bizarre. Reeder takes the best of both worlds by combing a fast, beautiful and intuitive interface with several great features like Google Reader syncing and sharing support. This makes it our pick for the best news reader application for the iPhone (and the iPad too).
Platform: iOS Price: $3.99 Download Page
- Syncs with Google Reader and supports virtually all of its features (starring, sorting, share items, etc.)
- Beautiful, intuitive interface that's easy to use
- Supports several third-party sharing services like Instapaper, Delicious, Pinboard, Zootool, Twitter, Facebook and more
- Share articles via email directly from the app
- Open any article in Safari
- Send articles to Readability
- Saves the state to remember where you were last time you were using the app
- Caches images for a faster feed reading experience
Reeder excels primary in its interface, its simplicity, and its tie-ins with third-party services like Instapaper, Delicious, and Facebook. If you've seen Reeder before you know the interface is very nice but also not anything terribly new. Unlike a handful of iOS news reader apps, Reeder isn't trying to create a new paradigm for consuming RSS feeds. Instead they're taking an existing model that works, improving upon it in ways that make sense both for iOS users and people who use their RSS feeds with various other online services. This is a very Apple-esque approach that makes sense (considering the platform) and happens to have worked well for the app. It's simple so its features are designed to make things easier rather than provide endless options. It's easy to learn and understand. It's also really nice to look at. It syncs with Google Reader, which is pretty much a prerequisite these days. All around, it's just really great.
While syncing with Google Reader should work for the majority of people, some prefer to keep their feeds local and unsynchronised. Reeder won't work without an account, so anyone who wants to manage feeds without Google will have to use another app.
Although Reeder supports folders just fine, it has a strange way of supporting subfolders. Instead of browsing through one directory at a time, it simply treats each subfolder as a primary folder, prepending the primary folder's name. For example, if I have a Lifehacker folder that contains a subfolder called DIY (and I do), Reeder would display it as "Lifehacker — DIY". This might actually be preferable if you only have a few feeds, but if you have a lot (and you probably do if you have subfolders) you'll end up with a long list of stuff rather than the neatly organised set you thought you were going to get. Additionally, this also means you can't view the entire contents of one primary folder at once and you have to instead view each subfolder individually. This is definitely not a huge problem, but it can get a little annoying in some circumstances.
Also, this app is significantly better on the iPad. While it's perfectly fine on the iPhone, the smaller screen prevents it from reaching its full potential — which you'll find on the iPad. This isn't really a problem, but it may feel like the iPhone app falls short in comparison to its bigger brother (but that's only because the iPad app is really excellent).
Reeder costs $3.99, so for those of you who can't stand to spend money on apps you should grab any of the following apps.
Feedly is an elegant, minimalist feed reader that also syncs with Google Reader. Some will argue it's as good or better than Reeder, which may have a lot to do with its cross-platform support (it works in your browser and on Android, too). It's beautiful, has plenty of sharing features, and is definitely an app you should try along with Reeder. They're both excellent, and Feedly is free.
Pulse is another interesting contender that plays a little bit with the traditional interface and turns your feeds into a subject-based newspaper. It's pretty cool and free to use.
There is a lot of competition out there and obviously we can't mention it all, so if you've got a favourite we left out be sure to share it in the comments.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories. This week, we're focusing on news readers.