Reeder 2: It’s Reeder, Remastered

The original Reeder was widely regarded as the best feed reader on the iPhone, something we wholeheartedly agreed with. Unfortunately, Google Reader was shut down earlier this year which not only forced its users to find a replacement platform but also had developers scrambling to update their apps.

Silvio Rizzi, the developer of Reeder, wanted to ensure that any update to one of the most popular RSS apps wasn’t just a rush job, taking the decision to release one last update for the iPhone version to provide support for services such as Feed Wrangler and Fever, something to tide us over until an all-new Reeder would appear.

Well, Reeder 2 is now in the App Store with an all-new app for both iPad and iPhone. Does absence really make the heart grow fonder or has Reeder been gone too long?

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Old Familiar

If you previously used Reeder then Reeder 2 will feel like you’re meeting an old friend. This is because, other than the cosmetic changes, Reeder 2’s interface hasn’t changed all that much. This is a trap that many developers fall into where changes to an app’s interface are made simply as a way of saying “look, our app is new.” Silvio Rizzi knows that Reeder’s overall layout was perfect and didn’t require any change, something I agree with.

Reeder 2's interface is a refinement of the previous version and is more at home on iOS 7.

Reeder 2’s interface is a refinement of the previous version and is more at home on iOS 7.

The colour scheme remains, though more muted, and the contoured edges and paper-effect backgrounds have been removed to better suit the overall appearance in iOS 7. Even dialog boxes within Reeder 2 are updated with iOS 7 in mind and there were none of the traditional blue iOS dialog boxes in my use of the app, all replaced with flatter designs.

Feed Support

Reeder 2 support the following RSS feed services:

  • Feedbin
  • Feedly
  • Feed Wrangler
  • Fever
  • Local RSS only (no syncing)

You can add multiple feed services should you need to, making Reeder 2 useful for any power users out there. New to Reeder 2 is the ability to handle Feed Wrangler’s Smart Streams. Unlike many other feed services, Feed Wrangler eschews traditional folders in favour of smart folders that can be configured to filter content based upon search terms. Previously, Reeder didn’t support Smart Streams and only provided the ability to view individual feeds.

Browsing

Reeder 2 is still the same multi-column layout that Reeder users will be familiar with, letting you move from folder to feed. New gestures replace the arrow button and swiping left will display all feed items without pecking on your iPhone screen too many times. If necessary, this behaviour can be swapped. Oddly, I found that the explanation for the function within the settings mostly missing as it was wither incomplete or a bug within the app.

Browsing feeds in Reeder 2is similar to Reeder, though enhanced gesture support makes it easier to do so one-handed.

Browsing feeds in Reeder 2is similar to Reeder, though enhanced gesture support makes it easier to do so one-handed.

Browsing through feeds is simple to do and the app supports swiping from the left or right edge to control your navigation and access previous columns.

The Refresh button has gone, replaced in favour of a pull-to-refresh option that is available by swiping down and pulling any of the columns.

There’s no subtle animations when navigating between folders and feeds that the iPad version has, which is a shame, as they made the app feel more fluid. My guess is that as Reeder 2 avoids unnecessary animations to preserve battery life.

Reading

Reeder’s crowning glory has always been the way it’s so easy to consume content. Reeder 2 builds on this and its flatter design seems to actually feel less distracting, despite it never really being a distraction before.

Again, Reeder 2’s interface has barely changed though gradients that appeared under article titles have now gone.

Reeder takes advantage of the iPhone's narrow screen with full edge-to-edge images.

Reeder takes advantage of the iPhone’s narrow screen with full edge-to-edge images.

We still have the standard assortment of buttons along the bottom-edge of the article view, allowing us to mark the current article as unread or starred and navigate between articles. The Share button still remains and Reeder 2’s still supports a dizzying array of services to send articles to, from App.net to Zootool.

Reeder 2 allows for greater control of the article view’s layout, providing not only the options for font size and line height but also the ability to align or adjust the title’s text – useful if you’re browsing feeds that have long titles.

Images within Reeder 2’s article view are also now full width should they be of an appropriate size, and I don’t know if I’m a fan. It’s definitely great to see the images displayed at as high a resolution as possible that fits the content area and, aesthetically, it works much better on the narrower screen of the iPhone than the iPad.

Settings

Reeder 2’s settings appear to be unchanged from Reeder, providing you with some level of customisation when it comes to opening articles on the web or how Reeder 2’s in-app browser functions. Other than configuring services, Reeder features very few settings. Power users who switched to apps such as Mr. Reader might feel like Reeder 2 is a step back and, in some ways, it would be.

Reeder 2 supports a number of feed services. Its settings are just as sparse as Reeder's.

Reeder 2 supports a number of feed services. Its settings are just as sparse as Reeder’s.

Conclusion

On the surface, Reeder 2 doesn’t offer much more than Reeder. Unlike the iPad version which never had third-party services support, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Reeder 2 is not much of an upgrade at all. In fact, Reeder is, at time of writing, still available on the App Store.

Is it worth upgrading to Reeder 2? If you have an iPad and you’ve missed Reeder then absolutely, since purchasing it will give you an iPhone version as well. For iPhone-only users however, this all depends on how your experience with Reeder has been. There’s nothing truly compelling that makes Reeder 2 an instant buy, though if you’re a Feed Wrangler user then you’ll finally be able to use Smart Streams, one of the biggest features of the service.

Perhaps the biggest reason would be that the future of Reeder is with Reeder 2. At just $4.99 for a Universal app, it’s priced aggressively and the future of Reeder is with Reeder 2. It’s unlikely the original Reeder will be maintained so future service disruptions or new features will remain within

Reeder 2 is the Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Reeder’s Mac OS X Leopard. An incremental upgrade that focuses more on refining and distilling the features that made it so great, rather than getting caught up with the paint job. Silvio Rizzi pretty much nailed it with Reeder’s original design so by sticking to the very features and interface that made Reeder so popular, he’s avoided releasing a troubled second album and, instead, brought us what can be considered to be Reeder’s greatest hits, digitally remastered.


Summary

Despite being more evolutionary than revolutionary, Reeder 2 is still the gold standard for RSS readers on the iPhone.

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