Mr. Reader: RSS With a Mustache

Since the release of the iPad the biggest complaint has been that it is just a device to consume content. The complaint that real work cannot be done on the iPad is still present today, but it’s disappearing fast due to software updates and developers getting more creative with their apps. While the mindset that an iPad can be used to create content is changing, there is no argument that the device is great to consume content.

Content can be consumed in different ways. Some people rely on Twitter to keep them updated while others may be put all of their websites they follow into an app such as Flipboard. Although, RSS is still a great way to keep up to date with news and your favorite websites. Google Reader is a free service which syncs your RSS subscriptions and there are several apps that sync with Google Reader.

Mr. Reader is one of the apps that syncs with Google Reader and has become my RSS app of choice on my iPad. The app is a full featured RSS app with abilities to add subscriptions, manage subscriptions, and share content across several services. The app also brings in unique features such as creating themes and different ways to mark items as read to make it stand out from the crowd.


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Design

Mr. Reader will have a familiar format to those coming from Google Reader on the web. The feeds and folders are positioned in the left hand column while the content is positioned to the right. The article table shows a preview of each item within a feed. Within the preview of each item are quick action shortcuts including marking an item as read, starring an item, tagging an item, and access to the sharing menu. Items can be organized chronologically or by feed.

Personally, I organize my feeds chronologically with my oldest feeds appearing at the top.

Mr. Reader Design

Mr. Reader places the feeds and folders on the left and the article table on the right.

Depending on the orientation of the iPad the article table will change behaviors. In landscape the width is a fixed width of content but in portrait mode the article table is similar to Twitter for iPad by including the ability to swipe content back across the screen to access your feeds and folders.

Mr. Reader is pre-loaded with four different themes to choose from. I tend to like a grey/darker theme when reading so I chose the New York theme. A unique feature in Mr. Reader is that users can create their own themes and upload them to this website to share with other users.

Theme choices in Mr. Reader

My preferred theme in Mr. Reader is the New York theme.

The themes can be installed directly from the iPad. This is a very unique feature. Most apps will have some type of color scheme or theme to choose between but that is where the choice ends. With Mr. Reader, if you do not like any of the themes then you have the ability to create your own theme.

Feed Management

Before I started to use Mr. Reader as my RSS app, I was using Reeder. Reeder is a great app with a unique interface but it lacks some features that I consider to be essential to an RSS app. One of the features is the ability to subscribe and unsubscribe to new sites. Within Mr. Reader subscribing to new feeds is as easy as pressing the + button in the upper left corner. This will open a search box where you can search for the feed to add. Removing a feed is easy as well. Just perform a long tap on the feed you want to be deleted and press Delete on the pop over menu.

Adding a subscription

Searching for iPad.AppStorm to add to my subscriptions.

Once you are subscribed to several feeds using folders to organize your feeds can keep things organized. Within Mr. Reader you can create folders, move feeds into folders, and delete folders. Feeds within folders can be navigated into so that only one feeds’ content will be shown.

Reading

With a name like Mr. Reader, surely it must be pleasant to read in the app – and it is. Across the top of an article lies the options to view the RSS feed, web view, or read later service view. I do wish that the read later services could be customized across the top. For example, if I only want to see the Instapaper view then I could elect to turn off Readability and Read it Later. As far as I can tell the views are going to be identical as well which does not really make sense why all three options are available at the same time.

Reading an Article

Which read later service should I choose?

The read later services option is great for sites that do not offer full length RSS feeds. For most sites the content can be pulled straight from the site and whole article is available for reading. Mr. Reader will also remember your last used view selection for each of your feeds. This is especially useful for items that you always want to view in the web view or by using a read later service view. Just open the item and instead of the RSS feed opening it will pull the web page or the preferred read later view.

When going through your RSS feeds you’re bound to encounter items that you want to share or save for reference in the future. When an item is open a toolbar will be present across the bottom of the item. This toolbar can be moved to the left, right, or bottom of the screen. The toolbar includes actions such as marking an item as read, starring an item, tagging an item, and a share button. Inside the share button is where you can share the item to different apps installed on your iPad such as, Grazing and OmniFocus.

The Sharing Menu

Mr. Reader offers plenty of options to share content.

Also within the sharing menu lie the usual services such as Twitter and Facebook and some unique ones including Zootool and Pinboard which is nice since I use both services.

Mr. Reader supports sharing content to multiple Twitter accounts.

Mr. Reader also has a couple of features that make it stand out from the competition. One of my favorite features is the ability to mark an item as read while scrolling. As soon as an item is scrolled off the screen the item is marked as read. Some might argue that marking all items as read is easy and puts the user in more control but if I get interrupted while going through feeds, I do not want to remember where I left off. I might not be able to pick up clearing through feeds for several hours, at which I will not remember the last item I read. Also if you prefer manual control you can direct Mr. Reader to mark certain items as read.

Hold down the mark as read button in the article table and the option to mark all items above or below the item as read will appear.

Marking items as read

Mr. Reader includes several different ways to mark items as read.

Complaints

As previously mentioned the only real complaint I have with the app is the confusion of the placement of the three read later services in the article view but I do have two general complaints as well. First is the name. Mr. Reader, really? I agree it’s a unique name but when recommending apps to people I always cringe before saying Mr. Reader. The other complaint is the icon. The icon fits the name but it’s not visually appealing sitting in my dock. For some users I know these items are deal breakers but I find the functionality of the app far surpasses these minor annoyances.

Conclusion

Mr. Reader is a great app but is it right for you? Of course there is no definite answer but by looking at your current RSS subscriptions you can probably deduce an answer. If you currently only see 50 updated items through the day and very rarely add subscriptions then you might enjoy a more visually stimulated RSS app like Reeder. Mr. Reader would certainly work for a user who does not see a lot of updates during the day but I think its’ features are going to be more appreciated by the RSS power users, the users who see 200+ updates throughout the day.

Mr. Reader has become my RSS app of choice since it is a full featured RSS app with unique features. The app has multiple ways to mark items as read, supports sharing to multiple twitter accounts, includes heavy integration with read later services, and the themes are customizable which means there is no end to the design of the app.


Summary

Mr. Reader is a full featured RSS client for your iPad. The app syncs with Google Reader, supports sharing content to several services, and has unique characteristics which make it stand out from the competition.

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  • Endem

    This always reminds me of how Apple should make it possible for us to try the apps before buying them.

    RSS and google reader sync have been wildly popular among developers so now we have tons of really great apps for the purpose. Since I’m addicted to RSS I find myself struggling not to buy everything that comes out. Recently I bought The Early Edition II and I find myself not using it at all, even though it’s a perfectly decent app (lacking in some aspect and exceeding is others.

    Been wanting to try ReaderX and now I stumble on your review of Mr. Reader (that i almost forgot).

    Somehow I still stick with Reeder, even though it lacks functionality (mainly adding and deleting feeds), I find it comforting that it has iPad, iPhone and Mac versions. I’ve sent some e-mails to the developer complaining that it’s one of the rare apps that provides better user experience on the Mac than on the iPad. He tweeted recently about redesign.

  • Sivil.

    I totally agree. I love this app, but the name the icon need an update. Ok, the name can stay. I get it you have built yourself a name in the market so you can’t really change that now. But change the icon, i hate it. Your product is designed very well and is best in the market as a RSS reader. But i stayed away for months from it because the icon alone. Please update the icon.

  • Robyn

    My personal favorite RSS reader app for the iPad is Feedly. It syncs with your Google Reader account, and there’s a Firefox add-on as well that I use to keep up to date when I don’t have my hubby’s iPad.

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  • David

    Thanks for this.
    I am looking for a rss ipad app that allow private forlders or account. I would like thatsomeo of rss i read are not visible from other people whp use my ipad.
    And an app taht we can read whatever rss without subscribing to google with.

    M. Reader does this ?

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