I’m not even going to start with the “who needs yet another RSS reader?” lead in question to this article. Of course we need as much innovation as we can possibly get. iOS is a nascent platform, and we’re just getting started in terms of the user interfaces that will later define touch based devices.
Max Rudberg is a talented designer, known for his creative work in the jailbreak community. He’s been creating themes — Glasklart is the most famous one I think — as well as icons and wallpapers, all for free. But while free has been the mantra through most of his online shares, I did not expect him (rather, the team at Ocean Observations) to release their first iPad application, The Feed, for free. Intrigued? Read on.
RSS on the iPad has been a sensitive topic, for me at least. I’m very picky when it comes to RSS, staying away from mechanical interfaces, instead choosing more organic approaches. I had so far settled on using River of News because I never had to look at any list whatsoever. The Feed kind of takes what River of News had to offer in its free flowing wall of text, and combines it with the slender pixel offerings of Reeder.
The Feed plugs into your Google Reader account and begins pulling all unread articles. Your primary action, is to scroll. Once you launch the app, that’s all you have to do — scroll baby, scroll — whether in landscape or portrait. Of course, it’s showing you an uncategorised All Items view, so you might want to narrow down your view to specific folders. Unlike almost every other app out there, The Feed brings a fresh new way of browsing your feeds. A slick tray shows you your available folders. Tap on any folder and it not only narrows it down to that category, but it also springs another tray right above, if you want to narrow it down further. I remember there was an extremely skeuomorphic app for the iPhone, which had newspaper trays and animations — this is not that kind of user interface. The thumbnails are very touch friendly, and don’t in any way slow down the process of getting to your feeds.
The Feed is meant to be looked at in portrait mode. You can either scroll through the articles, or use the buttons to move to the next or previous one in the list. If you want to get a broader overview of your articles, which would otherwise equate to a mail-like list view, just pinch out. The Feed will show you a zoomed out view, with just the excerpts showing. In this view you can quickly pin or star articles you want to read up on, making it an excellent way to gather relevant news.
The Feed has some minor performance and stability issues, but considering it’s the very first version of the app, I won’t hold that against it. It’s a fantastically designed app, and would be too good to pass up even if it weren’t free. But it is free, so you’re out of excuses.