First Look at Reeder for Mac

I first learned about RSS (Really Simple Syndication) when Apple added a built-in reader to the Safari web browser. I used that for a while, but Safari as an RSS reader was quite cumbersome. I wanted my feeds to be more centralized and, most importantly, easy to read. This was a couple years back, and one of the more popular Mac RSS readers was NewsFire.

NewsFire is an attractive reader, but is updated rarely, and lately, many of my favorite sites I subscribe to haven’t been updating properly in NewsFire. Also, with the advent of the iPad, I have found I do enjoy to casually read easily digestible bits of information, such as blog posts and news articles on it. (For long-form reading, such as a novel, I still enjoy my Kindle). There are a wealth of iPad RSS readers on the App Store, but I wanted to have one on my Mac, too, as I do enjoy casually flipping through my feeds and exploring links on my Mac, too.

I had long heard about Google Reader, but I honestly find many of Google’s web app user interfaces to be hideous and not the easiest to use. I had also thought of using a Google Reader client such as NetNewsWire, but I just didn’t care for the app. So I stuck with NewsFire.

A couple days ago, a popular iPhone and iPad Google Reader client, aptly named Reeder debuted a beta for the Mac (the developer refers to it as a Draft. Kinda classy). I have instantly fallen in love with the Mac version, even though it isn’t feature complete yet.

First off, let’s start with the icon. There are two different ways Reeder for Mac can visually notify you of new items: the first is a Mail-style badge, and the second (my preferred style) is to have the number of new items displayed as part of the icon itself. That’s just classy, right there.

Next, Reeder has an almost papyrus texture to the user interface, even in the UI chrome at the top and bottom of the window. The left sidebar is defaulted to show icons, but can be dragged wider to switch to text. I prefer the text, honestly.

If you click on a link in Reeder’s viewing pane, the left sidebar shifts out of view, and the viewer expands and becomes an in-app browser. It’s a nice touch.

Reeder also has a good deal of services available such as Instapaper (my favorite), ReadItLater, Pinboard, Delicious, Zootool, Twitter, and the ability to email a link or open the article in your favorite browser.

The first draft of Reeder is off to a great start. I’d love to see three-finger swipe gestures added to move forward and backward through your new articles, just like you can use to move among your messages in Mail. You can bet that I’ll be requesting that feature.

I can’t wait to see how Reeder develops, and I have to wonder if the developer is aiming to debut it in the Mac App Store. I think it would be worthy of an Apple Design Award.