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Reeder for reading, Unread for RSS
3 min read

Reeder for reading, Unread for RSS

Let’s get this out of the way: Reeder is beautiful. It always has been. But, how anyone can use it as an RSS reader is beyond me. Why? Because, after 10+ years, it still doesn’t offer mark-as-read-on-scroll. In 2016 ago I penned “What I expect from a modern news reader,” and this is the very first thing I mention:

Mark-as-read-on-scroll (in a multi-item view) I’m always surprised when this is missing. It’s especially necessary for high-volume feeds, where without it you’d have to scroll through every unread item before being able to move on to the next feed/folder, because only then would you feel comfortable marking the feed/folder as read.

I just can’t fathom why folks go ga-ga over Reeder even though this feature is absent. Hell, it shouldn’t even be considered a feature; it’s like a book not having page numbers or something. I just don’t get it. 🤷🏼‍♂️

Reeder for reading

All of that said, a while back Reeder introduced Pocket integration, which allows you to read your Pocket queue from within Reeder. Until a recent update this feature made no sense to me; I felt Pocket’s reading environment was fine.

What changed for me though was Reeder’s support for Bionic Reading:

Bionic Reading is a reading system that supports the reading flow. The eye is guided much more effectively through the text by means of typographic markups. Through the interaction of “fixation” and “saccade”, visual stimuli can be transferred to the text, which decisively changes the typeface.

I’d heard of BR a good while back, but until its inclusion within Reeder—and Reeder’s Pocket support—it didn’t stick, because there was no good way of using it for the majority of the stuff I read.

Now, does it really make a difference? I don’t know. It feels like it does, but I can’t say definitively. At the end of the day, I just enjoy reading with it.

Another plus for using Reeder instead of the Pocket app, is that it also supports Apple’s native read-it-later service, Reading Lists. Now, I don’t send anything to my Reading List unless the friction to get it into Pocket is too great (or it's just not possible), but I do use it from time to time.

A good example of this being useful is when notifications let you save the referenced link directly from the notification itself. As it stands, the only service that works for this is Reading Lists, and so your choices end up being 1) tapping "Save for Later" in the notification and moving on with your life, or 2) tapping into the app via the notification and then pushing to Pocket from within the app. The latter is much too much friction for me. (I'm hoping Apple will open this ability up to different services in the future, especially as iOS 14 will finally allow us to define default apps for specific use-cases (e.g., web browser, mail client, etc.).)

Before Reeder, I’d have to remember to occasionally jump into my Reading List, but now that collection of links is available in the same place as my Pocket list. 👌🏼

(I plan to figure out a solution to auto-send articles from my Reading List to Pocket (as they’re added), but haven’t had time to dig into it just yet. If you’ve figured out a way to do this, please email me or reach out on Twitter. My guess is that it can be done with a Shortcut.)

UPDATE: Thomas Verschoren pointed out to me soon after publishing this piece that Reading Lists actually isn't supported by Reeder. Their new read-it-later feature is Reeder-only (and syncs with iCloud); in my cursory reading of another's Reeder review, I just assumed this meant support for Reading Lists. Tells you how much I actually use Reading Lists. Anyway, apologies for getting anyone's hopes up. 🤦🏼‍♂️

Unread for RSS

I wanted to mention Unread here because it’s gorgeous, and an absolute pleasure to use. And of course it supports mark-as-read-on-scroll, because why the fuck wouldn't an RSS client support that?!

After having used Newsify for many, many years (it’s still probably the most feature-rich of any RSS app out there), I just wanted something different. (For what it’s worth, I use Feedly for my RSS backend, and their iOS client is pretty workable if you’re a normal human being.)

One thing I particularly like about Unread is that you can have a double-tap send articles to Pocket from the article-list view; the action is completely non-blocking, so you can blaze through a lot of articles really quickly, and throw stuff to Pocket without changing your scrolling direction (i.e., don’t need to swipe left or right).

I think my only ask of Unread would be an option to change the size of article thumbnails in the list view. As it stands now, there is only size, and it appears above the article title and takes up the space of at least two article titles+, which, over time, means a lot of extra scrolling for no additional information.

Ideally, the article title would abut the thumbnail, which would sit at either edge of the title, instead of above it.

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