An iPad feed reader that doesn't require Google Reader to use
February 24, 2012 4:38 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend me a well-designed iPad feed reader that doesn't require Google Reader to use.

I currently use Flipboard. I love the way the app works and the clean, uncluttered design, but I no longer wish to use Google Reader. Flipboard allows the addition of non-Reader feeds, but it handles them terribly.

Thus, I'm looking for a new feed reader. I've accepted that I'm not going to find something that's essentially Flipboard minus Google, but I'm struggling to find an iPad app -- any iPad app -- that does the following:
  • allows me to subscribe/unsubscribe to feeds from within the app
  • keeps track of read and unread articles and only displays unread ones
  • combines feeds into one timeline, rather than having a separate timeline for each feed
  • ideally, supports sending to Instapaper and Pinboard, but that's not essential
Things I'm not interested in: reading or posting to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, etc.

posted by Georgina to Technology (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I love Pulse News. iPad, iPhone, and desktop; you can sync them if you like, too.
posted by mimi at 4:47 AM on February 24, 2012

Taptu seems like a good option as well. That one would give you the ability to add everything to one stream and read it all as if on one feed.

With both of these apps though, you've got a catalog of stuff that they've decided should be available. I have no idea what the criteria is for inclusion. I also don't mind using Google Reader and both apps will let you import a Reader feed if you want something they don't have.
posted by theichibun at 5:20 AM on February 24, 2012

I'm really enjoying Pulp - it's quite different from other readers in its format, but gives a lot more browsability than just a list of links and articles.

It does take a bit of getting used to and a bit of a willingness to make a paradigm shift from standard RSS readers, but to me it's been totally worth it. Much more like a newspaper that you can flick through looking for something interesting than a relentless list you feel like you have to keep up with.

It does Instapaper and it's very pretty as well. Has a companion Mac app if you're into reading from the desktop as well, and keeps everything in sync.
posted by agentmitten at 5:52 AM on February 24, 2012

another vote for Pulse. Give it a try.
posted by neilkod at 6:03 AM on February 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all for the suggestions. Pulse and Taptu are two of the apps I tried earlier today, but neither seems quite what I'm after.

With Pulse, I couldn't work out a way to combine all my feeds into one timeline (or stream, is that the correct word?). I subscribe to some feeds that only update a couple of times a month, and would prefer not to have them on the screen all the time. I also couldn't find a way in Pulse to make it only show unread articles, which is a dealbreaker for me.

In Taptu, I couldn't get it to add feeds that it didn't already know, and it didn't know any of the sites I tried. (Even ones I would expect, like Daring Fireball.) I appreciate Google Reader will solve that problem, but my goal here is to stop using Reader.

Pulp looks very promising. It's one am here, but I'm looking forward to checking it out tomorrow.
posted by Georgina at 6:04 AM on February 24, 2012

At least for Android I just hit Menu and select to Hide Read posts. Or maybe it's only show unread? I can't remember but I guess it doesn't really matter. But you're right, no combining at all.
posted by theichibun at 6:29 AM on February 24, 2012

I know you specifically said a "Feed Reader that doesn't use Google Reader" and I assume you have a reason for it, but I'm still going to recommend Mr. Reader. It does use Google Reader, but it allows you to do all of the operations through the app itself including creating a Google Reader account (so if privacy was your concern, you could technically create a semi-anonymous account and use it only through that app), renaming, categorizing, tagging, subscribing, etc.. So you never really need to visit Google's website.

It does everything you are interested in (including Instapaper and Pinboard). It will allow you to put all feeds together, but it has the option of showing each feed on the side (it will hide the feed if it doesn't have any new posts, so you wouldn't always see it). It keeps read/unread's perfectly. It also has an Offline mode which I find very useful.

Sorry if Google Reader is truly a deal breaker, but I figured i would mention it since you didn't really specify why you wanted to stay away from Google Reader.
posted by tuxster at 7:23 AM on February 24, 2012

A little more info on organizing feeds in Pulp (it took me a little bit to figure out):

I made 5 broad categories - like image-heavy feeds, reading-heavy feeds, feeds I read every day, etc - and made a page for each of those. This seems to work well for browsing purposes.

On each page you can have up to 4 columns. In each column, you can have as many feeds as you like. Pulp will automatically pull the feed with the most recent entry to the top of the column.

What I've found that works well is to sort feeds into columns by frequency of posts. So one column might have only one or two feeds in it, but they're frequently updated ones. Another column might have lots of feeds, but they only update once or twice a month. I don't have to see them when they're dormant (they sink to the bottom of the column), and when a new entry happens, it automatically comes to the top of the column.

And there's lots of options for how many entries from each feed to show, and whether it uses a thumbnail or a full image. It's fun to mess around with.

The last thing is the "magic reader" feature. It's a little spotty, but generally speaking, it tries to pull the full content in from feeds that only publish excerpts. Works better with some things than others.

Have fun with it - best advice is to go with the way it wants to work, not the way you're used to doing it.
posted by agentmitten at 9:25 AM on February 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks again for the suggestions.

I tried the trial version of Pulp for Mac, to see if I might want to buy the iPad version. It is a different way to read feeds and I think if I subscribed to a lot of heavily-updated feeds and wanted to browse through them, it would be an excellent choice, but that's not really how I use RSS. The design is gorgeous, though.

Yes, I'm closing my Google account due to privacy concerns, plus a more general philosophical objection to Google's belief that they have the right to collate so much of our personal information.

By fluke, I came across a reader today that I missed in my earlier searches: Early Edition 2. It's somewhat like a fancier version of Flipboard, and if the design isn't as cleanly minimalist, the upside is that it's much more customisable. It works either with Google Reader or as a stand-alone app. I haven't had a chance to fully put it through its paces yet, but initial impressions are positive-ish.

I'd still love further suggestions, if anybody has one.
posted by Georgina at 7:49 PM on February 24, 2012

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