RSS Reader Write-up: Fever vs. Feed Wrangler, Unread vs. Reeder vs. NetNewsWire


In my past blog, I wrote an extensive article reviewing RSS Mac apps. My conclusion in the past was that Reeder, with its gestures and slick interface, provided the best experience.

A lot has changed since then, most notably I bought my first iPhone in November. Sync was not an issue back when I wrote the review because I was using a single device. In this post, I'll tackle my rationale behind my choices of syncing service and clients, as well as the little experiment I am conducting in the next few weeks.

Web Service

I was using a Fever instance to sync between Unread and Reeder. However, I never got used to the proper way to use Fever. Fever encourages following tons of pages, and an algorithm floats the "hottest" articles to the top. The way I use RSS goes against this philosophy. Rather than having a digest, I want to read all of the posts in my feeds. In addition, Fever's web interface is very dated and not pleasurable to use.

Feed Wrangler was a much better fit. It is a lean-and-mean paid service ($19/year) made by a great developer. I found that Feed Wrangler syncs much faster than my Fever instance.

iOS App

Once I came across Unread for iOS, I looked no further. Unread because is an amazing app. I love being able to use sloppy swiping to navigate, which makes one-handed browsing very comfortable. There is still a custom sharing menu which I really enjoy, but for heavy-lifting you can still access the native share sheet. I haven't found any app that has a more seamless interface.

Mac App

Unread is so good on my iPhone and iPad that I rarely ever go to my Mac to read RSS. However, I maintain that Reeder is the best RSS app for the Mac. Currently version 4 is in beta, which brings the interface to the Yosemite age.

Plot Twist: In comes Black Pixel...

Black Pixel just released the stable version 4 of NetNewsWire for Mac as well as a new iOS version. It took forever, but they did it! Currently the iOS app lacks an iPad counterpart as well as Pinboard sharing, which are both planned in the next release. I'm hoping they will introduce a native share sheet because their current only has a few options. As I mentioned in a past review, NetNewsWire 4 for Mac got tabbed browsing right. However, when compared to Unread and Reeder, the interfaces of the NetNewsWire suite is rather vanilla, and I really miss having gestures in the apps.

The new NetNewsWire apps have one killer feature: a free syncing service. In my testing, it has been rock-solid. In addition to syncing feeds, NetNewsWire allows for syncing of starred and bookmarked articles, and I can immediately think of situations where I will use this feature. I'm a big Black Pixel fan. They take their time with their apps, but everything they release has unparalleled polish.

So what now?

I've decided to try out the NetNewsWire ecosystem. I'm not sure it will stick because I already miss Unread and Reeder, but if I can save 19 bucks a year and have a consistent experience across apps, I might just switch for good.

UPDATE 2015-09-20

I have switched back to Unread and Reeder. NetNewsWire's iOS app has proved to be awkward compared to Unread. There's really nothing wrong with it, but Unread is more efficient and makes me look forward to reading my feeds. Also, as Ben Brooks points out, the update time for articles with NetNewsWire is much slower than clients that sync with Feed Wrangler.

UP-UP-DATE! 2015-12-03

Due to financial hardship, I have fully switched to NetNewsWire and have grown quite fond of it.