Easier RSS with Feedly

Reading on your iPhone can be a chore, mostly because your iPhone is so small and words can be so big, especially when writers make them into sentences and then paragraphs. From there, people start writing blogs, and everything just goes downhill — unless you have a great RSS app to help you keep all that reading in check. Feedly is making reading on the iPhone that much more enjoyable though, even if you do still have to contend with all those words and sentences and things.

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Feedly and Google Reader

You don’t technically need to login to Google Reader to use Feedly, because you can browse around and read whatever you like without a login. However, you can’t save any new subscriptions or access your old ones on Google Reader until you’ve logged in. Once you’re in, all of your RSS feeds should appear, and if you’ve organized them into folders in Google Reader, that’s how they’ll appear in Feedly. Tap any folder or RSS title to load the contents in a sort of magazine format.

Feedly lists your RSS feeds and folders or lets you subscribe to a new feed.

Feedly lists your RSS feeds and folders or lets you subscribe to a new feed.

Tapping the compass star in the top left of an RSS feed or folder view will give you a list of lots of different sites to which you can subscribe. You can also do a search for anything you don’t see listed. Once you’ve found something you like, give it a tap to add it to your subscriptions. You can add it to any of your current folders, create a new category for it or leave it uncategorized. I was happy to see the ability to not only add subscriptions but file them away like I would in Google Reader.

When you find something you really like, you can share it a few different ways.

When you find something you really like, you can share it a few different ways.

There are the usual sharing options. You can post to Facebook, though you have to give Feedly permission to access your Facebook account. You can also share to Twitter, tweeting from within Feedly without giving away any extra Twitter permissions. If you try to email the post, though, Feedly copies the entire contents of the post, images and all, into a new email. The option of just sending a link to the original website, even with a shout out to Feedly included somewhere, would have been much preferred.

Reading How You Want

There are a few different ways you can choose to present your RSS feeds, and those are all accessible within the feeds or folders themselves by tapping the gear in the top right. The default layout, list view, will give you a sort of cover page headline of the newest post. Swipe to the left, and the next four or five pages will be a list of the most recent posts, with a cover page thrown in.

Mosaic view is similar to list view in that you’ll see the single cover story followed by pages of lists, but you’ll also have a grid of RSS posts interspersed among the lists and cover pages. It doesn’t add a lot of utility, but mosaic sure does look nice. The third view is cards view, which does away with lists of posts altogether and presents all of your subscriptions as single page previews. Each post will get its own “cover,” but it will take a while to browse through a large feed of unread posts.

A couple of the different Feedly views.

A couple of the different Feedly views.

To read anything within a feed, just give its preview a tap. Feedly will bring up the full text of the post, including all images. Scroll to the end of the post to view it on the website within Feedly. Tap the compass in either the top menubar or in the dropdown to the right to open the post in your preferred browser. The curious and unidentified circle in the right dropdown will mark the post as unread, which I discovered only through trial and error.

Feedly’s Preferences

Back in the RSS list screen, under More, you’ll find lots of options. You can change the theme from the default light to dark, but I didn’t enjoy reading light text on a black background and switched back to the default pretty quickly. You can also edit your content, which I hoped meant I could reorganize my folders but just meant I could delete feeds. Still, that’s pretty useful if I don’t want to login to Google Reader to ditch the things I’m not reading anymore.

In the Settings, you can adjust your start page, though you can’t choose a specific RSS feed. I was able to turn off the function that automatically marks posts as read, however, making me very happy. I could also choose which browser links opened up in, which was even better, as I don’t necessarily want everything going to Safari.

Looking at the settings in Feedly.

Looking at the settings in Feedly.

You can edit the font if the default isn’t as readable as you like or if you just don’t like the cut of Helvetica’s jib. I bumped up the font size, because reading on an iPhone makes me feel like an old person with all the squinting I do, and this way I can at least preserve the illusion of youth. Settings is where you’ll also sign into those good places such as Pocket or Instapaper.

Conclusion

Feedly has a beautiful look and feel, and I was reminded more than a little of Flipboard, the wildly popular social news aggregator. What sets Feedly apart, though, is what it doesn’t have. It’s not integrated with all of your social networks and YouTube, and you’re not going to stumble upon a lot of content you wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s simply a Google Reader app on your iPhone.

What Feedly does do is present your subscriptions in a beautiful and accessible way. It’s easy to get what you want to read quickly without sifting through a lot of other stuff. At the same time, you can search for and subscribe to new RSS feeds right from the Feedly app without having to bounce over to Google Reader in your browser. And if you’ve had too much of a subscription? Delete it, right there in Feedly.

Feedly is just enough app without bogging me down with more than I need. It’s easy to get to my RSS feeds and find what I want, and I don’t see a lot of extra stories that I’m not interested in. With the ability to adjust the font and text size for readability and the ease of opening links in browsers that don’t happen to be Safari, Feedly is a great RSS app to try.


Summary

A nice looking Google Reader app with lots of settings so you can make it your own.

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