RSS Apocalypse Update: Newsify

I've been using the Newsify iPad/iPhone reader app today and it's pretty good! It uses the Feedly servers but is much better than the Feedly app.

Good:

  • Lets me use light text on a dark background.
  • Has preferences for fonts and font size.
  • Lets me display things oldest-first.
  • The "Unread" button is visible and on-screen all the time.
  • Hasn't crashed yet.

Bad:

  • The "Next" button is tiny and on the bottom not-even-all-the-way right.
  • No way to zoom in on images.
  • The icons that the "Unread" button uses for read versus unread are the same color and almost identical looking. I don't remember which is which.
  • "Mail" sends the whole HTML of the article instead of just the link. And the link goes at the bottom of the mail.
  • Still no OSX app.

You can also set it up so that swipe-right does "Next" but that doesn't work any better here than it does in the Feedly app.

Why don't designers of readers realize that "Next" is the single most important command in the UI? Why do they always make it hard to execute?

The "Next" button should be the easiest target on the screen to hit, and without having to visually search for it, and it should be accessible from either side, so you can fat-thumb the damned thing no matter which hand you're holding your sandwich in. Clickable nav areas should be huge, like this:

Prev
Body
Prev
Next
Next


Update: Having used it for almost a week, here are the things about Newsify that drive me crazy.

  • The "Next" button, obviously.
  • When you click Next, it takes nearly a full second running an animation that slides the new page in. I'm tired of waiting for that noise. Just show me the next article already.

  • You can't click Next until that animation has completed and the next article has fully loaded. If I click Next three times fast, I expect it to advance 3 pages, not 1.

I see that the iPhone (but not iPad) version of Reeder has been updated to support Feedly. Once he gets the iPad and desktop versions of that working again, I may switch back to that. Until then, though, Newsify seems to be the best opton.


Previously.

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22 Responses:

  1. lairdb says:

    Honestly, give Mr. Reader a try. The Next button is prominent and configurable, and also implemented as a swipe inward from anywhere on either edge of the screen.

    I believe everything else on your Good and Bad lists is present (except for an OSX app), either as simple options, or via the theme editor for intricate styling.

    • Edouard says:

      I second Mr. Reader. Very business like feed reader. Will allow using third party sources any day now...

    • crowding says:

      I tried Mr. Reader and it fails miserably at putting the 'next' button in a sensible place. Sure there is one; you can even move it from side to side; but it's always in the center of a side, not the corner, too close to the 'prev' and what's more it's never on the edge of the screen but offset by a stupid 1/2 inch margin.

      Touching the margin, BTW, acts to dismiss the article view and go back to the list. Yeah, the 'back to list' button responds to a 10x more effective target than the 'next'. It's as though they never heard of Fitts' law.

      The alternative swipe-in-from-the side behavior, is even worse from an RSI standpoint.

      Maybe there's a "theme" that corrects these problems but fuck themes; just get things sensible.

      • jwz says:

        For the record, the Digg Reader app has no Next button at all. The only way to advance is to scroll all the way to the bottom of the article and swipe up. Hope that article wasn't long, or that you really did want to read the whole thing.

      • lairdb says:

        If it weren't that you mentioned the swipe-in, I'd think you were using a different product than I.

        I don't think I've customized it much or at all, but for me touching the margin doesn't do anything, the next button is squarely in the corner (and all the way to the edges), and the swiping is versatile enough that I don't experience any RSI.

        YMMV; best of luck finding a better alternative.

  2. Friedel says:

    Weird. I don't see a problem with swipe left/right for prev/next article, as it works very reliably for me in the Feedly app on Android.

    However it's a big turnoff that they change the ui in ominous and unforseen ways.

    I like your idea of simply putting a .newsrc into the cloud. Somebody (not you or me) should sit down and implement it. ;)

  3. Matt says:

    I have not yet found a privacy statement/policy for Feedly. They seem extremely hesitant to broach the subject. This has put me off it, for whatever that’s worth.

  4. GDorn says:

    One of the best features from the Android Google Reader client is the use of volume keys for navigation. Screw all of this swiping and hidden on-screen nav, I want a hardware key to push to go to the next article.

  5. halcy says:

    Maybe one day, UI designers at places that are not google and apple will also start doing things like "trying out user interfaces with actual users and learning from the results" instead of taking a "mostly guess at what is happening and refuse to budge for changes that don't instantly look cool" approach. Maybe one day.

  6. Other Jamie says:

    I went with Feedbin, at least temporarily. Works with Reeder on IOS/OSX and charges $2/mo., which to me is actually a feature.

    It needs search in the http UI. Any other warts are client-UI side, thus Reeder's fault. (I personally think Reeder works really well.

    Still waiting for someone to build an open source news aggregator that clones the Google API, so I can host it myself. (What, me write it? Don't be silly.)

    • Unless there's been an update to the Mac desktop version in the last couple of days, only the iPhone version of Reeder supports Feedbin.

      • Other Jamie says:

        Whoops, you're right. Shows how much I've been using it on the desktop.

        Odd how iThinees and RSS have replaced braindead novels for me for waiting for BART or food or whatever.

  7. lairdb says:

    FYI, Feedly seems to be dropping some posts on high-velocity feeds.

    In fact, I'm running GReader, Feedly, and BazQux in parallel, and only BazQux is successfully collecting everything out of one particular fast feed I'm using as a benchmark.

  8. FYI, I'm told Reeder just updated to support Feedly's servers. (Haven't had the chance to download for myself yet to try it out.) Maybe it's not as good as supporting a config file in Dropbox, but might just be better than all the alternatives.

    • Ok, just tried the new Reeder. The only version available right now is the iPhone version (he's still working on the others) but even using that at double size on my iPad is still a better experience than either Feedly or Newsify.

    • jwz says:

      This is great news. I'll wait for the iPad update before switching back, though.

  9. Eric Will says:

    What's wrong with Reeder again? It syncs with Feedly just fine. I replaced Google a week ago with Feedly and I use Reeder on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

    • jwz says:

      Uh, as far as I'm aware, only the iPhone (not iPad or OSX) version of Reeder can talk to Feedly at all. So says the web site, and my experience. So I don't know what you're running...

      • Eric Will says:

        Apparently I'm somehow running an unstable version on my Mac and I hadn't opened it on my iPad yet. My apologies. From what I understand this will soon be the case though.

  10. Marie says:

    I really like http://silverreader.com which is free and ultra fast.