Reeder for iPad It’s no secret that I use RSS a lot in finding things to blog for TeleRead. Using Google Reader, I follow thirty or forty feeds which pop out hundreds of articles per day, and go through and “star” likely prospects, then go back to my starred list later and write up the most interesting ones. (I also share some interesting articles that I don’t blog; anyone who wants to follow my Google Reader feed can find it here.)

When I had my iPod Touch, I at first used NetNewsWire, then I upgraded to Reeder when I read some good reviews of it. It cost $2.99, but it was worth it. I then ended up using the iPhone version of Reeder on my iPad, low-resolution and all, because I simply couldn’t find anything better suited to the way I read newsfeeds.

Recently, after the New York Times controversy over the new Pulse iPad RSS reader erupted, I thought I might as well try it out; it was only $3.99. Ironically, only a couple of days after that, the new iPad version of Reeder launched, for $4.99, so I had the opportunity to try both of these newsreaders and compare them.

My verdict: For my style of RSS reading, Reeder wins, hands-down (but Pulse may still be great for people who don’t read the way I do). Details after the jump.


Pulse home screen Graphically, Pulse is very pretty. It organizes your feeds into rows of squares, each row representing one feed and each square representing one article with a thumbnail of the article illustration, or the first couple lines of text. You can touch-scroll vertically through feeds, or horizontally through the articles on any one feed. Tap an article and it expands to a reading panel that fills much of (expandable to all of) the screen.

Pulse article view I initially had high hopes for Pulse, based on this review from our sister blog Appletell. It looked like an interesting format for RSS reading, representing the various feeds graphically. And it was (theoretically) Google Reader compatible, according to a post in the comment section.

The problem is, Pulse enforces a very different reading model than the one I need:

We love Google, but the reader continues to look like your second inbox. People are subscribed to 100+ feeds and have 5000 articles unread articles. It is cluttered with text and looks very sterile. Pulse believes in leisurely browsing news, without the stress of consuming every bit of information out there.

So Pulse allows adding up to 20 of “your favorite feeds” to the reader—that’s it, and no more. It also doesn’t allow the read/unread and favorite tracking of readers such as Reeder or NetNewsWire that do fully integrate with Google Reader.

That may be all right for people who just want to read interesting articles, but I do need to “consume”, or at least glance at the headline of, “every bit of information out there” as I’m engaged in picking the best sources to reblog on TeleRead. So it may be that my RSS reading habits are different from the average, and I’m not part of Pulse’s target audience.

But adding insult to injury, Pulse apparently doesn’t even have an offline reading mode. If I launch it without wifi, I get an empty screen. That seems to me to miss the entire point of RSS syndication—scooping up articles to review when you can’t be on-line. Not everyone is going to have the 3G iPad, after all. (Update: A subsequent update to Pulse added the missing offline reading capability.)

One of the big things I use Reeder for is spending time when I can’t be on-line (such as on the bus, or eating at a restaurant with no wifi) weeding through potential sources and picking promising ones for investigation when I have access.

Pulse may be suited for people with different reading needs than my own, but from my perspective it’s just a toy, not a tool.


Reeder article list Reeder was the best RSS reader I tried on my iPod Touch, and I used it there right up until I lost the device a couple of weeks ago. It was a lot more convenient than the iPad for reading in cramped situations. When the iPad version came out, I upgraded right away.

The iPhone and iPad versions share much of their metaphor for article browsing: articles come in lists, and the items on the list can be swiped left to toggle between read and un-read, and right to toggle between starred and unstarred. They can also be toggled from within the article view, and there are a remarkable number of sharing and reading options including Delicious, Instapaper, Twitter, email, and so on.

Reeder article view One major difference between the iPhone and iPad versions, which not everybody likes, is that in the iPhone version, the sources were arranged in a textual list just like the stories. In the iPad version, this is replaced by a thumbnail view. Some App Store reviewers have complained about the change.

In general, the format of the iPad version has been improved to take advantage of the extra space, with just a couple of minor annoyances (why is the “share” button now separated from “note and share”? Why do you have to click a confirmation button now every time you want to mark everything as read?). I find that Reeder is now better than ever for doing my article reviewing away from the computer—even when RSS feeds that don’t include the full text of the articles, I can still star them and come back to them later.

It is also very configurable, with an extremely lengthy “Settings” screen accessible from the Settings app. There is even an option to list articles in ascending or descending order, which a lot of readers who don’t like the newest-on-top default order from blogs and Gmail will appreciate.

I will say that I was highly irritated that they released a separate app for the iPad rather than upgrading the iPhone version into a “universal” app. It’s annoying to have to pay again, and to pay more, for the iPad version of an app when it’s technically feasible to combine both versions into a single program. But the cost is low enough overall that even buying both versions only comes to $8, and for my money this is the best iPhone or iPad RSS reader on the market.


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