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Summary:

As a tech writer, I read far more than I write. And most of my reading is through RSS feeds on a computer, be it a netbook or a notebook. I used to read feeds on smaller devices, but the experience was generally sub-par for me. […]

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As a tech writer, I read far more than I write. And most of my reading is through RSS feeds on a computer, be it a netbook or a notebook. I used to read feeds on smaller devices, but the experience was generally sub-par for me. The new NetNewsWire app for iPhone has changed that perception in a big way. I downloaded the free version of the app a few days ago and I’m totally enjoying it. I’m not keen on the advertisements in the free version, mainly because they take up a bit too much space when in landscape mode, so I’m dropping the $1.99 to get the ad-free version. The app is slated for a price increase to $4.99 in October, so hurry up and try the free version if you’re remotely interested.

netnewswire-iphone-feedsYou’ll need to have or create a Google Reader account to use the application, but I’ve been addicted to Google Reader for a few years now. It meets my needs in terms of features and since it’s web based, I can use it on any device I have. For a while, I used the mobile version on different phones, but again, it just wasn’t the best experience for me.

Once NetNewsWire is installed on your iPhone or iPod touch, you sign in with your Google Reader credentials. Synchronization fires up and my few thousand feeds were all pulled down in under three minutes over Wi-Fi. Once you’ve synced your feeds, you can take your device offline and read at your leisure, although you’ll miss out on link tapping and other features that require connectivity.

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The app starts up with all of your feed folders and unread counts showing — simply tap one to expand or collapse it to view the feeds. Tapping any feed provides a list of unread articles in chronological order, from newest to oldest by default. You can reverse that order in the settings if your a FIFO kind of person. Each article shows the title, publication time and the first 40 or so characters of the article. Between that tidbit and the title, I know if I want to tap and read it. I don’t see a way to mark an article as read from this view, although there is a “mark all as read” button for each feed.

Tapping an article brings up a beautiful, easy to read view of the full article as well as any images. From here, you can star it, tap the next unread button, or move up and down through the other articles. A “send to” button at the bottom left offers four additional options: email article, post to Twitter, send to Instapaper, and open in browser. I’m finding that there’s little need for the “open in browser” button. Tapping the article title or any link in the post slides the RSS bit to the left and opens a Safari-like experience for the real deal. All of the Safari controls are in the feed reader: pinch and zoom, cut, copy, paste, etc…

netnewswire-iphone-sendtoI can’t say that I’ve looked at every RSS reader for the iPhone, but NetNewsWire has me reading feeds with my handset on the go again. And that’s something I haven’t done for at least six months. The performance is solid and the experience is enjoyable. If you use Google Reader and own either an iPhone or iPod Touch, I consider this app a “must-try.”

  1. Strange that all the recent reviews on the app store are for ZERO stars, apparently an update has broken everything?

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    1. I can’t speak to the reviews or the update. I got the current version to use, so I have no old version to compare to. Not sure what the issue is, but I’m not seeing it.

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  2. Should try News Feed, too

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    1. Unless I’m reading the description wrong, News Feed isn’t an RSS feed reader. Looks to be pre-populated with 145 mainstream type sources. Can I add my own feeds and does it work with Google Reader? If not, it’s not of any value to Google Reader users.

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  3. I haven’t tried The new version of NetNewsWire, but I have been using Byline for the past few months and it is excellent – my best app purchase by far!

    Byline syncs with Google Reader, provides offline reading support including a download of the full web-page. The developer realty did a good job on it’s usability.

    It has become my primary news reader. I prefer reading my RSS feeds on Byline over the desktop version of Google Reader because I can get through my feeds much quicker.

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  4. For firefox users, try feedly. I never open up google reader again. just for the reorganization of the feeds it pays off.
    I know this is a iphone post. But seriously try feedly.

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  5. Heard if they are doing a Pre version? Pre really needs a good reader & that syncs with google. I am already using their windows desktop client FeedDemon.

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  6. Byline wipes the floor with NNW 2.0. Much easier to read and handy offline caching. Funny that the desktop version’s switch to google only syncing forced me into using Byline. Having tried NNW 2.0, which frankly seems rushed to keep up with newsgator’s plans, I won’t be going back.

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  7. Funny, I just deleted NetNewsWire from the Mac now that I’m forced to sync with Google. I’m actually fine with that, but I’m not fine that their FAQ doesn’t explain how the Google password works. Does NNW have access to it on their servers, is it protected (locally or there) and how? Considering how many Google apps we all use, I’m a little reluctant to share my creds.

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  8. I’d be careful with giving NewsGator my money.

    I purchased NetNewsWire for Mac a few years back. About a year after I purchased it, they switched it to free. Now they’re relaunched NNW for Mac with Google Reader support and want previous paying customers to pay again to remove ads.

    What’s stopping them from doing this to the iPhone app? Or for the 2nd time on the mac?

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  9. I installed NNW on my iphone and while it is promising, I won’t continue using the current version. At the end of the day, I really can’t see why I would prefer to use it instead of the mobile version of google reader in safari. Also, when you star items you can’t tell if they are starred or not. I would only find it useful if I was away from a 3G or wifi connection, which is not often.

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  10. I tried NNW free just to see how it compares to Newsstand 2.1.

    I only got a few minutes to try it out though. I set it to read my Google Reader account and I think I looked at one article. I then saw an advertisement I was curious about and clicked on it. After I was done, I went back to NNW. It never opened again. It would automatically shut down every time. Rebooted the phone. Still no good.

    Oh well, that was a short lived effort. Deleted.

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