As a man with prejudices, I tend to separate people who use Google Reader from those who don't know what RSS stands for. As simple and widespread as it is, RSS feeds make my life much easier, helping me to keep up to date with tons of sites, but I still manage to find people who find it too cumbersome. Well, there is a world of madness with unread feeds and there is Reeder.
Since I first beta tested Reeder [iTunes Link] by Silvio Rizzi, I fell in love with it, up to the point of ditching my beloved Byline. Compared to the Google Reader browser experience (now themed with the Safari Extension by Vidal van Bergen), there is something pleasant about those recycled paper tones, font combinations and subtle transitions that made the iPhone version stand out a year ago. When I upgraded to the iPad, reading feeds was a natural use for the device and without thinking it twice, I purchased Reeder for iPad (Notice how the app is not Universal).
Reeder for iPad [iTunes Link] builds on the success of its older iPhone brother with an iPad twist. If you're not familiar with it, the killer lines of code allow this little app to sync all your feeds in a fast go and then take a bit more time downloading all the images and heavier goodies. Simple but effective for offline reading appfreaks. I believe an early design decision made Silvio Rizzi go down the road of the iPad Photos app: stuff piled on stacks to pinch and sneak but without much usability when it comes to text articles. If you like to keep your feeds organised in folders, not a bad thing. But if you have a thousand subscriptions without any sort of organization, this will be more than annoying. The system uses the favicon of the sites to show you the contents of a particular stack of feeds when you pinch it, which is a nice gimmick and a necessary step if you don't want to start reading all the feeds in the same folder mixed up.
Once you get to the contents of the folder, a very familiar selection of websites will appear with their own unread badges: an orgy of procrastination I say. Here is where Reeder for iPad starts to earn its own chevrons. Displaying your options on a grid (again, like Photos app), just feels stylish, appealing and inviting. Something like choosing one chocolate from a Godiva chocolate box. The next step, selecting your feed, brings the familiar list view that we know from the iPhone version. You can tap on an article to read of scroll down to see all the content you have missed.
The reading view is not short of options. Perhaps one of the nicest things from the Swiss developer is the amount of effort put into adding new features and services every now and then. In the current iPad version, users can add a note, send to Delicious, Pinboard, Zootool, Instapaper, ReaditLater, Twitter, Facebook, Safari, Mail it or see it Mobilizer version. I know it is bait overwhelming, but it is simply a range of services offered. Would I have liked to just add the ones I use? (thing of Ego) Yes, but at least it has been implemented in a neat way.
The last point I want to make is about its reading view, which is specific for this version.
I'm not going to make the mistake of forgetting about other iPad hits like Flipboard and Pulse but… can they actually manage the same amount of information? Can they guarantee I haven't read that already?
Despite having used borrowed ideas in the rest of the app, here is were Reeder excels. After all, you are going to spend most of the time reading. If you have seen the simple icon, the dark bar on the left has more relevance than ever. Added to the reading view, it acts as a vertical toolbar that allows you to go back to to previous pane, see that he app is synching and most notably, move to the next article. Those simple controls are present in most eBook readers, however, most iPad apps tend to use the page swipe paradigm.
I just love it. Holding the not-so-light iPad can be tiring for reading, but tapping with my left hand thumb these controls helps a lot. Maybe that's why I prefer to use the portrait mode rather than landscape, which uses the Mail app layout.
All in all, a fantastic must-have app if you are one of those information connoisseurs who can't survive without RSS feeds. If you don't use them, try Google Reader's desktop version to see if it works for you first. This one is a no brainer. I'm not going to make the mistake of forgetting about other iPad hits like Flipboard and Pulse but… can they actually manage the same amount of information? I use them all, but Reeder knows we have a daily date as part of my workflow, organise my time better and use it a lot to save good stuff to Instapaper or share via Twitter and e-mail.