Monday, June 25, 2012

RWW Recommends: The Best Mobile RSS Reader

RSS lives! Not everything is a real-time stream of status updates from Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Subscribing to an RSS feed is still the best way to closely monitor your favorite blogs and topics.

So where to check your feeds? Google Reader is the undisputed king of RSS Readers for the desktop, mostly because it's the Last One Standing. However, there is much more competition among RSS Readers for smartphones and that means there are some great options out there. In this post we give you our recommendation for best mobile RSS Reader.

RSS in a nutshell:
RSS stands for 'Really Simple Syndication' and it allows you to subscribe to the updates of a website. Look for a little orange button (see our header bar for an example), click it and then save the address into your favorite RSS Reader.

In order to make a single recommendation that will be useful to as many people as possible, we applied the following criteria:
  1. Must be cross-platform, which at minimum means it works on both iOS and Android.
  2.  Should have granularity of control, meaning you can easily access all of your feeds and folders.
  3. Even though Twitter and Facebook haven't usurped the RSS Reader, the modern mobile RSS Reader should integrate with the leading social services and help filter out their noise.
  4. Must hook into Google Reader. Since Google Reader is the dominant desktop RSS Reader, it's therefore the most common place to subscribe to feeds. Google allows mobile apps to access Google Reader subscriptions and it's become an essential feature for a modern mobile RSS Reader.
With those criteria to guide us, there was one mobile RSS Reader that stood out...

Our Recommendation: Feedly


Feedly is basically a better user interface for your Google Reader feeds. After you input your Google Reader username and password, Feedly lists out your Google Reader folders and offers a slick, intuitive way to browse them.

In addition, Feedly gives you a nifty way to subscribe to topics - through its "Essentials," a curated list of popular topics like 'Cooking' and 'Design.'
For the river of news fans, Feedly has the option to view your feeds chronologically.

Feedly integrates with Twitter and other social media, allowing you to share your finds. It also enables you to browse your Tumblr subscriptions, which is a nice touch since RSS isn't the primary way to keep track of Tumblr blogs (Tumblr promotes its own internal "follow" subscription model).

Feedly is available on both iOS and Android, as well as being a browser plugin for Chrome, Safari and Firefox. Feedly was ranked 4th in our list of the Top 10 Feed & RSS Technologies of 2011 - behind only Twitter and Facebook.


Spoiled For Choice: Other Recommendations

If you're looking for a mobile RSS Reader, we recommend you try Feedly first. That said, there are many different flavors of mobile RSS Readers and a lot of it will come down to your personal preferences. So if Feedly doesn't taste quite right to you, here are some alternatives that may satisfy your RSS appetite:


Pulse was named number 6 in our list of the Top 10 Mobile Products of 2011. The main reason was that Pulse is available over a range of platforms - more than Feedly, in fact. As Dan Rowinski noted, Pulse is "the only truly cross-platform reader that brings its full user interface, fully intact, to iOS, Android smartphones and tablets including the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Kindle Fire as well as Windows Phone 7." Pulse is a very colorful app and has similarities to Flipboard, so it may suit you if you prefer that magazine-like experience.

 Note that there is a limit to the number of feeds you can input into Pulse.
Reeder was popular in the informal poll I conducted on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. It's iOS only, so if you're an iPhone user then it may be a great option for you. Compared to Feedly and Pulse, Reeder is fairly vanilla and not very colorful. However it makes up for that with an easy-to-read interface and excellent integration with social media. Many people love Reeder (including our own Jon Mitchell), so give it a try if Feedly doesn't work out for you.

If you're an Android user, then Google Reader offers a popular app that connects very well with other Google products (like Google Reader and Google+). It's not available on iOS, however the mobile browser version of Google Reader is more than adequate - although Feedly, Reeder and other iOS apps offer a better user interface for Apple users.

Flipboard made its name as an iPad app and to this day it remains my favorite RSS Reader on that device. I also use it daily on smartphone too. It doesn't have all of my feeds, just my favorite folders in Google Reader. So it's more of a complement to Feedly, than a direct competitor. Flipboard recently became available on Android too.

Finally, if you want something a bit different, my6sense has taken a unique approach to filtering. It attempts to guess what you want to read, by automatically filtering your feeds.

We hope you find that one of these smartphone RSS Reader apps will suit your needs. Let us know in the comments what you think of our main pick, Feedly. Or if you have another personal favorite, tell us what's special about it.


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