Why Reeder 3.0 is more than the RSS reader for iOS

When Silvio Rizzi introduced us to Reeder two years and a half ago, the iPhone was crying for a native RSS reader. Used to sluggish web-based alternatives, a proper app wasn't only more responsive, but it also did it with style. The daring UI tweaks hiding the default  status bar, the monochromatic aspect of it, the texture of worn paper and the approach to gestures are part of the DNA of the app from that first version.

Now, that same Reeder experience is available for the iPad and the Mac, preserving the same essence and iterating on new ideas for every platform. As I like to say, one of those apps raising the premium bar. My own personal experience with the app is also something worth mentioning. I was part of the original beta tester group at a time when I was happily using Byline.

Used to the very early apps that looked like prototypes using Apple's SDK, I remember being blown away at the time with this kind of app. An app that worked behind the scenes while you were performing the task — reading, bookmarking and sharing — synchronising at an impressive speed and without distraction. Weeks before it came out I was sold on the concept.

After years using the app on the iPhone and trying it on different platforms, I think it was a surprise for everyone to see such a radical version come out like that. Reeder 3.0 for iPhone isn't only a revamped version but a whole new app coded from the ground up. The new terms of use of Google Reader must have had a lot to do with it, asking users to authorise the account once again. Maybe this step also encouraged the developer to add support for the newer Fever and Readability, which help me to think of Reeder 3.0 as a more versatile, more mature app.

A whole new look

When you change something thousands of people see and use on a daily basis, you face some serious risk of rejection. With version three, the UI evokes a near past where everything feels so familiar yet very alien. In a time of mobilizers, those services that strip websites of their unnecessary clutter, Reeder wanted to join the party. The new article view learns from these experiences, adding large bold headlines on sepia background, with the option to change text size and spacing. 

The reading view looks definitely cleaner, aided by a lighter bottom menubar with the same options you are used to: moving between starred, unread and all items. Moving between articles is dead easy, having a new origami-type animation encouraging to swipe up to load the next article. Alternatively you can use the up and down triangles used as arrows. Lateral swipes are also used to move between folders, back and forward and to make item as starred or read in the article view. 

Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things in the old Reeders was the very generous sharing popover you would get across the app

Sharing gets to the next level

Just remember that Apple is going for a similar solution in iOS after years of trying to do it their way. I've always preferred disabling those services I don't really use — such a Evernote — to reduce the size of the tray. 

The new Reeder changes the popover menu to a carbon shade of black, which is a nice contrast to the prominent lighter interface menus and background. The theme is consistent with other alerts and notifications, for example, when you save an item to Instapaper.

Unfortunately for me, gone is that custom Twitter window where you could paste URL and Headline at your convenience. I loved — and I really mean it — to share stories in the format "My comment + URL + original headline". Now the app uses iOS native Twitter window that maybe for this reason beginning to detest. I'm afraid this is the cost of evolution, adapting and adopting the new standards. 

Manage feeds and add subscription

Finally on iOS devices you can add subscriptions. Until now, Reeder acted as a front end where you couldn't modify much. I believe you could hide some folders you didn't want to take with you on the iPhone though. Now you can add new subscriptions directly on it, which makes managing your feeds so much easier.

Radical changes for radical measures

While iOS users tend to complain too often about icon changes and the visual zen of their home screen, the changes here affect everything. With such radical measures it's very difficult to please everyone. I'm glad I took some time to write this review as the first update has tweaked most of the rough edges.

With the new ability to manage several accounts for different services, Reeder 3.0 emphasised a lot on the idea of telling you the account and service you are using. In the last update accounts list isn't showed anymore and doesn't display your email address on the top menu bar — which I found kind of disturbing, showing my personal email address in public when commuting.

The Readability integration contaminated the point zero release. Now that sofa icon will disappear if you choose to do so.

Reeder 3.0 surprises in the good way. There isn't anything that revolutionary that fashioned users will find awkward. If they do, they can still set it up to their preference in the abundant settings. The new additions can bring the potential to new workflow and new ways to enjoy the app. Not that anyone who reads RSS and has an iPhone is going to discover Reeder now, but the app now is ready for the reading habits of us geeks in 2012. Simplified design, quick updates and easy sharing.