Yup, we’re talking about RSS. Before you ask “what year is it?” let me stop you right there. Yes, there are great news readers out there. Everything from Flipboard to Nuzzel wants to be the “smart” way to deliver news. I get that, and I do use all those apps, but I also use RSS readers. RSS readers are important now, more than ever. We all have our favorite websites where we want to check out every single article (such as MTE). All those intelligent new readers won’t help you out there.
If you gave up on RSS in 2011 and never took it back up, here’s my top tip (and here’s a good explainer on RSS): Sign up for a free account at Feedly, and add no more than twelve of your favorite sites. Then grab one of the apps below, and instead of opening Facebook or Flipboard, go to your RSS app. You’ll find something you’re much more likely to read or send to Pocket in a couple of seconds than you would aimlessly scrolling your Facebook timeline. If you’re already an RSS geek, I don’t need to sell you on a system so wonderfully named Really Simple Syndication. Let’s talk about the apps.
1. News Reader by Feedly
Feedly is the true replacement for Google Reader, meaning it’s the RSS service that’s going to be enough for most users out there. It might not be great for pro users, and it might not have four features with the Smart prefix, but it’s solid, reliable and gets the job done.
Feedly is not just a service; they have their own apps as well, and they’re great for beginners (adding content from within the app, even for RSS newbies, is really easy). RSS geeks, stay away. The app’s UI might seem confusing to old RSS users because it’s a mix between lists and Flipboard’s flip style UI. Instead of one long list, you get top articles from each folder you have set up. If you do plan on using Feedly as your main RSS app, there are settings to switch to a compact list view. Switching to a particular folder makes the experience much better.
While the Feedly service is free to use, there’s also a Pro plan for $5/month that gives you integration with automation services, faster polling, alerts and a full feed search feature.
If Feedly is for everyone, Inoreader is for everyone including the geeks. Inoreader tries to be a reading service that’s backed by RSS instead of just being an RSS reader. And it’s built that way. You start out by choosing sources from categories you like, and Inoreader does the job of populating the feed for you.
Inoreader is free to start with, but you can upgrade to plans starting at $1.49 a month and up to $4.99.
But Inoreader’s best pull is its app itself. While not gorgeous, it’s utilitarian – clean and feature rich. Many RSS feeds are truncated, and you can’t get full-text feeds even after using hacks. In Inoreader, just swipe up and the app will show the full text. That compared with finely tuned reading/sync settings and the automation stuff makes Inoreader the perfect app for the RSS geek. If you have around 50-100 subscriptions, look into Inoreader (and the paid plans).
Play Store stats tell me gReader has 50 million installs. That’s nothing to sneeze at. gReader (from the makers of Inoreader) supports Feedly, The Old Reader and the old-fashioned local RSS system. I used it with Feedly for a couple of weeks. gReader is a feature-rich app – but as a client, not as a service. The free version has most features of the Pro version but full page ads will show up randomly at the most unsuspecting time (I hate full page ads). You can pay to make them go away or use an ad blocker.
gReader’s reading experience is strictly okay (the dark mode especially). You can double tap to switch to Readability view, us shortcuts for frequently used features at the bottom, and customize default sharing options. Such little features in gReader are abundant. I’m personally not the biggest fan of gReader’s interface, which brings me to the next entry.
Press is the only paid app on the list, but if you take your RSS reader seriously, you should consider spilling out $2.99. Press is focused on providing you a better reading experience, and it succeeds. Aesthetically speaking, it’s the best-looking RSS app for Android. It’s the app you use when you want to sit back and read instead of scrolling through the headlines. The app lets you quickly switch between the light and dark theme. And you can choose from six fonts (gReader only has three). Another reason reading in Press is a joy is how well the Readability mode works. When I run into a truncated article, I just double tap, and in a second or two the full article is right there. The important part is that it looks just like an RSS feed article in Press. There’s no funny business like with gReader.
But along with being good on the eyes, Press also has the crucial RSS features nailed down: control over syncing based on connected network, a powerful widget, double-tap for Readability view, shortcuts for read-later services and a lot more.
FeedMe: Last year, I used FeedMe a lot, but lately it has become really slow for me. I hope the issues are solved in future updates because FeedMe is a good RSS reader. It’s like gReader but with less intrusive ads and a cleaner interface, along with all the little features RSS geeks want.
Flyne: Flyne is one of the best news reading apps out there that’s designed to curate articles for offline use. And if you upgrade to the $1.99 Premium account, you can add a Feedly account to the mix as well. Flyne is a really basic reading app, though.
How Do You Read RSS?
What’s your preferred method for catching up on RSS feeds every morning? Do you use a website? An app perhaps? Share with us in the comments below.