RSSify your iPhone with Newsify

My iPhone isn’t my go-to for reading anything. I really think the screen is too small and there are so many products on the market that have reading wrapped up. But sometimes I still find myself with a few minutes to spare and want to catch up on my Google Reader RSS feeds, with only my iPhone in sight. What to do?

Luckily, Newsify has come to my aid, with an elegant and dead simple app that has made my iPhone a reading destination for me, not just a last resort when I’ve got nothing better to do and no better e-reader on hand. Read on to find out why I’m so enthusiastic about this little app.

Starting It Up

When you open Newsify for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter your Google account information. Newsify will begin syncing all of your RSS feeds, including the accompanying images, a process that will take a while if you’re subscribed to a lot of feeds or have a lot of unread articles in Google Reader. When sync has completed, you’ll see all of your feeds and folders in the main Newsify screen, with your unread counts off to the side.

The main screen of Newsify on the left, and viewing the newspaper layout in a folder on the right.

The main screen of Newsify on the left, and viewing the newspaper layout in a folder on the right.

If you’ve organized your RSS feeds into folders, you can tap each folder and read all of those feeds in a single, pretty sexy, newspaper layout. If you just want to read the RSS feed from a single site though, tap the arrow to the right of the folder. This will bring you to a little submenu for the folder, where you can choose to read everything in that folder (organized by date), read just the starred items in the folder, or read only a specific site’s articles.

Your Personalized Newspaper

Once you’re inside a folder or single newsfeed and Newsify has laid your articles out in print newspaper-like fashion, you have a few options. You can read something, but that just seems so obvious, so we’ll come back to that. First, tapping the ellipsis in the top right corner brings up a short menu. From here you can mark things as read, show only unread articles, or switch your view to list the articles by date. This closely resembles Google Reader’s web app, though it looks loads prettier than Google ever did. Tap the ellipsis and “switch view” if you want to return to the newspaper layout. Dragging the screen downward updates your current view, which will take more or less time depending on how many new articles you have to update and how picture heavy they are.

Reading an article on the left, and viewing an RSS feed in list mode on the right.

Reading an article on the left, and viewing an RSS feed in list mode on the right.

When you’re ready to read, tapping an article title and blurb brings the article up into fullscreen. Once you’ve read through the text of the article itself, it’s easy to keep swiping and move to the article previous or prior, turning RSS reading into one sleek, continuous experience. A lot of RSS feeds provide only an excerpt, so if you’re not lucky enough to have the full text of the article available, tap the globe icon at the top of the screen to view the original article on the web.

Sharing and Subscribing

There are also a few icons at the bottom of the screen that help you navigate. The eyeball marks articles as read and unread, while the star will, unsurprisingly, star and unstar articles. The next and back arrows allow you to move quickly among the articles without having to swipe all the way through.

A fifth icon is there to let you share on social networks, email, and really, just about anywhere. When you tap the Share icon, the first three shareables that pop up are Twitter, Facebook and Pocket. Tapping for more brings up a much longer list, including Delicious, Evernote, Instapaper and Tumblr.

Back in the main screen, Newsify allows to subscribe and unsubscribe from feeds right there in the app. Tap the Plus sign in the upper right to get the subscribe screen. Don’t worry if you don’t know the feed URL, the search function is pretty much perfect. I tried and failed to stump Newsify’s search, and it always came back with the feed I was looking for. When you find the feed you want to add, Newsify will allow you to add it to a folder or even create a new folder.

Editing the Settings

If in your misguided attempt to become informed on the world you’ve now added more feeds than you can possibly ever keep up with, it’s easy enough to remove them. Just tap Edit in the main screen and select whatever folders or feeds you want to delete. While editing in the main screen, tap the arrow next to the folder, and you’ll be taken to a rename screen. If you want to delete the individual feeds inside your folders, tap Done to get out of Edit mode, and tap the arrow next to the folder you want to edit. The Edit button is strangely on the opposite side of the screen inside folders, but it does the same thing, and will allow you to delete individual feeds here, too.

Working inside the settings, and an alternate view of an RSS feed.

Working inside the settings, and an alternate view of an RSS feed.

The gear at the bottom of the main screen allows you to fiddle with your settings, and there are quite a few settings with which to fiddle. You can sign in and out or update your password if it’s changed. You can also change what font is used and size everything up a bit if you need to. This is where you choose how your feeds are arranged, whether you’d like to read in landscape view and if you want an unread count badge on Newsify’s icon on the home screen.

Sync settings allow you to adjust how much you want to download to your iPhone with every sync and how long you want to keep all of that there. Newsify gives you the option of turning off image sync when you’re not on Wi-Fi, and let’s you decide how many total items Newsify can download at any one time. These are all really important settings to have, especially with full-text, image-rich feeds that can really fill up a chunk of your iPhone’s memory.

Conclusion

I can’t say enough about the design of Newsify. It has a similar sleek feel to that of (previously reviewed) Flipboard while being 100% its own app. Newsify is incredibly easy to move around in and really intuitive, and my myopic eyes had no trouble reading the articles inside the app — something that has been a problem for me with other iOS readers.

The ease of use and quality of design make this one a winner. It’s incredibly customizable and manages to do everything the Google Reader webapp does on your iPhone, while looking ten times better doing it. If you haven’t found the right iOS feed reader for you or are looking for something new, definitely give Newsify a look.


Summary

A sleek, smart Google RSS reader.

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