The Joy of RSS

On first glance this title might seem to have little to do with the iPad, but that’s simply not the case. Since owning an iPad I have become more and more enamored by RSS; it’s almost invariably the first thing I do once sat down with my breakfast, open up Reeder and peruse the latest articles and posts from my favourite sources.

There seems to be a current trend of people moving away from using RSS towards different solutions, one of the most popular being Twitter. I guess it’s a matter of personal taste but, with the iPad by my side, I’m prepared to staunchly defend and promote RSS as the best way to keep yourself in the loop.

The Difference

I want to say right now that I haven’t always been a huge fan of RSS, I never really got into reading feeds this way until I owned an iPad.

I’m not sure exactly why this was.

Perhaps it’s because reading longer articles on my Mac never felt that enjoyable, I was still sitting at my desk and scrolling with the mouse. Perhaps it’s because the first time I used Google Reader I couldn’t help but find the interface distractingly ugly and convoluted.

I tried NetNewsWire, and even the beta version of Reeder for Mac, but still I found myself loathe to actually sit down and read my feeds.

The iPad completely changed the game.

The Joy

The iPad is the perfect RSS reader. It’s beautifully portable and designed to be held or at rest in your lap; there is a vast difference between sitting at your desk in an office chair to read from the laptop screen, and sitting anywhere (preferably somewhere soft) reading from your iPad, switching article with an intuitive touch.

I love the simplicity of it.

Reeder

Reeder

It’s so good to be able to have all of your most read sources in one place, full articles available immediately – and links just a tap away! As I’ve already mentioned, Reeder is my preferred RSS reader on the iPad, but there are lots of good options. I’m loathe to admit it, but I probably open Reeder at least 15 times a day – even if it’s just a reflex following the unlocking of my iPad.

Two Pieces of Advice

Instapaper

I feel like it’s hardly worth saying, but here goes anyway. If you’re coming around to RSS, or have been using it for a while on your iPad, and don’t have Instapaper – get it!

It is, without a doubt, the best way to save longer articles for later and file away anything fascinating for use further down the line. It complements Reeder by giving you time and space to come back to an article; where Reeder marks an article as read and allows it to disappear, Instapaper looks after it for you until you need it again.

Mind Your Feeds

My second piece of advice is to mind your feeds. Don’t let your RSS feeds get on top of you, while some people can handle having 100s (or even 1000s) of unread posts, many people can find that it stresses them out.

Reading shouldn’t become a chore.

My policy is to only subscribe to feeds that post less than 10 items a day (a couple more for truly great sources). No following the main RSS feed for a huge magazine, it’s just exhausting!

It’s sometimes possible to follow a more specific magazine feed that will cut down on the overall number of items you see.

If you don’t enjoy reading a source, or don’t read it at all, then get rid of it. I will happily use Flipboard to browse interesting articles from Wired or the like, but I don’t want 100 posts a day to flood my RSS reader – that’s for the stuff that I never want to miss.

Reading articles from iPad.AppStorm.

Reading articles from iPad.AppStorm.

Final Thoughts

As I have made abundantly clear, I find the iPad to be the perfect RSS reader – and use it every day. In conjunction with a good RSS reader app and something like Instapaper it creates an unbeatable experience.

What do you think? Do you use RSS on your iPad, how do you like it? What apps are your favourites for aggregating your feeds?

Have you dropped RSS in favour of Twitter, what are the reasons? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!