Reeder 2: It’s Reeder, Remastered

The original Reeder was widely regarded as the best feed reader on the iPad, something we wholeheartedly agreed with in our Reeder for iPad review. 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 rushed job, taking the decision to pull the iPad version from the App Store until an all-new app was ready with support for multiple services. Whilst Reeder for iPhone gained some support for other services, Reeder for iPad required a complete rewrite, something that would wait until the next version.

Well, Reeder is back 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 for iPad then Reeder 2 will feel like you’re meeting an old friend. This is because, other than the cosmetic changes, the app’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 has changed little from Reeder for iPad, aside from a coat of paint.

Reeder 2‘s interface has changed little from Reeder for iPad, aside from a coat of paint.

The colour scheme has been updated to be more consistent across all of the Reeder apps, 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.

I was never a fan of the way Reeder for iPad “stacked” feeds and folders in a way similar to photo stacks in the iOS Photos app. Well the stacks have now gone, keeping instead the more traditional multi-column view that fits feed reading much more.

Feed Support

Reeder 2 support the following RSS feed services:

  • Feedbin
  • Feedly
  • Feed Wrangler
  • Fever
  • Local RSS only (no syncing)
Reeder 2 supports a number of services that can even be used simultaneously.

Reeder 2 supports a number of services that can even be used simultaneously.

You can add multiple feed services, should you need to, making Reeder 2 useful for any power users out there. New to the app 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. Reeder for iPhone, whilst supporting Feed Wrangler, didn’t support Smart Streams — something that Reeder 2 now does.

Browsing

Browsing through feeds is simple to do and there are a number of different gestures that Reeder 2 supports to get you where you need to go. A sharp swipe to the left on an open article will reveal your list of feeds and folders, though this only works on articles. I tried to use gestures in other places and was frequently marking feed items as read or starred.

Browsing through feeds and folders in Reeder 2.

Browsing through feeds and folders in Reeder 2.

The Refresh button has gone, replaced in favour of a pull-to-refresh option that is available via accounts, folder and feed columns.

There’s some subtle animations when navigating between folders and feeds, as well as switching between starred, unread and read items, that I quite like and it makes the app feel more fluid.

Reading

Reeder for iPad‘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 2 still retains the exceptional article view as well as a plethora of sharing services.

Reeder 2 still retains the exceptional article view as well as a plethora of sharing services.

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.

The app also 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.

There's greater control of the font size, line height and title alignment.

There’s greater control of the font size, line height and title alignment.

One feature I would have loved to see is the ability to specify what fonts you’d like to use in the same way Instapaper can. I prefer using a serif font when reading articles and the lack of any option to change that is a shame.

Images within Reeder 2‘s article view are also now full-width should they be of an appropriate size which I really don’t know if I’m a fan of or not. It’s definitely great to see the images displayed at as high a resolution as possible that fits the content area but it does feel like it breaks the article’s flow since all the text is beautifully justified until this large image appears to break it up.

Images are now displayed full width, something I'm not a fan of.

Images are now displayed full width, something I’m not a fan of.

Settings

Reeder 2‘s settings appear to be unchanged from Reeder for iPad, 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.

Conclusion

On the surface, Reeder 2 doesn’t offer much more than Reeder for iPad. It’s looks very much the same and there are very few additional features. There’s no doubt that Reeder for iPad needed a substantial rewrite in order to support the number of new feed services that rose out of the ashes of Google Reader and I’m sure as new services become available, Reeder 2 is in a much better position to be updated to support them as and when required.

I’d argue, however, that the familiarity of Reeder 2 is exactly what makes it so good. Silvio Rizzi pretty much nailed it with Reeder for iPad‘s original design and has distilled and refined it to be even better. By sticking to the very features and interface that made Reeder for iPad so popular, he’s avoided releasing a troubled second album and, instead, brought us what can be considered to be Reeder for iPad‘s greatest hits — digitally remastered.


Summary

A fully-fledged RSS reader for the iPad.

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