For those of you who aren’t RSS dependant, I know you’re sick to death of hearing about services post Google Reader. I apologize for having yet another RSS story. For those who live and die by your RSS feeds, you may want to listen up, I have a fantastic and very versatile app called ReadKit from Hungarian developer Webin to tell you about.
Old Habits Die Hard
They say old habits die hard – this is the relationship between me and desktop RSS apps. When you’re looking through hundreds of stories and press releases per day, you have to be able to do it quickly and comfortably. Web interfaces have come a long way, but they’ll never be as fast as something native. With Google, I was using the service not for its web app but as a way to sync different apps across different platforms. Having an API independent of your software also allows you the flexibility to try out things without having to import your feeds every time. That helps when you’re like me and notoriously picky when it comes to RSS apps.
There had been a graveyard of RSS apps in my wake before I finally found one I liked, NetNewsWire by Black Pixel. It served me well. Then the apocalypse happened. I went with Feedly as my new service of choice, but for the last two weeks have been stuck on the web interface as no desktop Mac apps supported it that I knew off. Reader, whose iPhone version uses Feedly has not released a new version of their Mac App. My old, trusted NetNewsWire has a new beta version and while syncing is promised, it’s sure not there now and they don’t say what form it will take. Then an app I had never heard of, ReadKit, come across my eyes. It had just added Feedly support as part of its 2.2.0 update. The Mac App Store reviews seemed to like it, so I thought I would take a chance.
When opening up the app for the first time it will ask you to set up an account. You’ll be astounded by the amount of options you have. In addition to the aforementioned Feedly, you have Instapaper, Readability, Pocket, Pinboard, Delicious, NewsBlur, Fever, FeedBin, and Feed Wrangler. In other words, Pretty much every RSS and Reading service on the planet. If that’s not enough, it offers a local RSS option as well. Most of them are paid services and require a subscription. Feedly and Readability are free and work just fine.
If you’re looking for something profoundly different in the interface, you won’t find it here. ReadKit is your standard three-panel mail-type RSS reader. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll feel right at home. The one thing you’ll notice is how minimalist the interface is. There is no toolbar up top. It’s at the bottom, extremely thin, and is icon-only. ReadKit is unmistakably designed for reading and the developer didn’t want any distraction for that. It works as intended, since I don’t even notice the bottom toolbar unless I’m specifically looking for it. You get the standard options for search sync, search, mark as read, show/hide the panes, and tagging options. The one thing I don’t like however, is that search isn’t persistent. It’s toggleable, with off as the default setting.
So how is it working so far? That’s the big question here. For the most part, wonderfully. My perspective might be a bit skewed by by last couple weeks in a web app, but it’s very fast. I can read at over 800 words per minute. This is the first RSS reader i haven’t had to wait for. It works as fast I do. Syncing for both Feedly and Readability has been excellent for the most part. That being said, I have noticed an error a couple times that it can’t connect to Readability. This error left me unable to sync with any service and the only recourse was to restart. It’s very rare though, and I have notified the developer.
Where to Find It
Distribution is done exclusively through the Mac App Store for $4.99. That also means it’s for OS X only. There is also no iOS version. Fortunately, though Reeder has that covered pretty well. The price is very reasonable compared to the competition. Reeder for Mac is also $4.99, or at least was until they pulled it between versions. NetNewsWire is priced at $20 though you can get it for half that right now. Don’t worry about those two though unless you want a traditional toolbar.
I hadn’t heard of this app until 2.2.0 came out. The Mac App Store had 17 reviews of this version of the app, 14 five-star, 2 four-star, and 1 three-star. It didn’t take me long at all to come to the same conclusion. It’s not just the first Mac RSS app to have Feedly support, it might be the best Mac reading app out there today. At $5, it’s inexpensive. It’s fast, responsive and reliable. It’s simple, yet powerful in its organizational capability. It also works with darn near every every service out there. If you want a Mac RSS app, look no further.
– Wicked Fast
– Very Reliable (save the one bug) Syncing
– Works with most Post-Reader RSS services including Feedly (first OS X app that I know of), FeedBin, and Feed Wrangler
– Also works with top Reading services Instapaper and Readability
– Minimalist design focused on reading.
– Almost no Learning curve for those used to three-pane email apps.
– At $4.99, same price or lower than rivals Reeder and NetNewsWire
– It’s too darn good not to buy it.
– No persistant search bar
– May be too minimalist for those who want a traditional toolbar setup
– No corresponding iPhone and iPad version(s), so you’ll have to find other options there.
Update: After I submitted this review, there was a major bug that affected syncing this software when used with Feedly over the weekend. I experienced this personally late last night. The developer has said on their twitter account that is a fix on the way. Until it arrives, here are Webin’s instructions on how to reconnect ReadKit to Feedly if you experience the sync error. I’ll update again when the fix is released in the Mac App Store.
Update 2: ReadKit 2.2.1 which fixes the the Feedly sync issue has been released to the Mac App Store.