I was an avid user of Reeder before Flipboard on the iPhone came along. Reeder was, from the very beginning, one of the best (and one of the few only) apps that combined the complexity and the functionality of Google Reader, with the portability and the flexibility of the iPhone. Swiss developer, Silvio Rizzi foresaw the iPhone as a primary consumption device, and he designed Reeder to satisfy the need for that; with great aesthetics kept in mind. Reeder was ahead of the queue. And this was only just 2009.
Enter 2010, the year before ‘Lion‘— dubbed “the OS that brought iOS back to the Mac”— and the same year Rizzi released a desktop version of Reeder. Reeder’s design was undoubtedly familiar and farfetched at the time: Its user interface was simple, unique, and iOS-esque. It felt like Rizzi brought Reeder “back to the Mac”. The slick, iOS-style animations, big, clickable buttons, compared to that of the many complexities of the Mac apps before then, felt like Reeder was the beginning of the iOS-ification of (third-party) Mac apps.
I fell in love with the Reeder Mac app as soon as version 1.1 of the redesign was shipped out. 2011— the year of Lion; invisible-scrollbars, gestures, full-screen apps, iCloud, and everything in between— was the flagship year of the beginning of OS X’s slow, gradual transition to becoming iOS. Reeder’s redesign took advantage of that, minimizing the need for visible scrollbars, trackpad gestures and (as a bonus) full Readability integration. Reeder was my go-to app to start the day on my computer. It was my virtual newspaper, the void to fill-in my need for Flipboard on the Mac. Reeder was, in many ways, my most favorite desktop app ever. And, this 2012, against all the other great apps out there, Reeder still is.
Just a few short weeks ago, Silvio Rizzi released the 3rd major version of Reeder on the iPhone. Rebuilt from the ground up, Reeder 3 marks as one of the first, brand-new, major iterations of the app — include revamped features, services, full-on integration with other web apps, and it sports a whole new design.
First things first; the icon, looks new. If you remember the Reeder’s icon prior to the new redesign, Reeder’s old icon looked great nonetheless— the simplicity of the old icon’s design dictated a message that told the purpose of the app. And the old icon’s use of texture was outstanding for Retina-Display icon design.
The new icon however, sports a whole new look:
It features the app’s most single primary purpose, and that is, to be one of your most used, ‘favorite’ apps on your iPhone. The icon is ‘starred’ for the purpose of it, and the brilliant hues of orange and brown make the app stand out amongst the rest. “Reach for the star” is what I always say to myself. Reeder’s icon has a message simple enough to be said. (Well, that’s my perspective anyway).
Albeit, in short: the icon’s pretty.
If you take a look at the screen shot above, Reeder’s UI looks slightly different from its older UI-iterations. The app looks much cleaner, and brighter, and the in-app animations look much more smoother and slicker. Reeder, though, as it has been sinceˆ the very beginning, still has managed to design the complexity of RSS in a more navigable, aesthetic way.
App navigation is slightly different, too. With previous versions of Reeder, the main screen (in other words, the first thing you see when the app is launched) composes of a list of all the websites you directly grab your feeds from. In Reeder 3, the new ‘main’ screen for the app instead shows a list of where your feeds will come from:
The app features Readability and Fever° integration, aside from the standard, de facto Google Reader integration. The new main screen, as shown above, also has the option to view all your items instead, either as unread, starred, or (if you’re really crazy) all the items. The switcher at the bottom is slightly confusing however, because in previous versions of Reeder, the switcher’s state changed depending on what menu you were in, for example: if I were browsing through my list of websites, and I tap the unread icon, Reeder shifts so it only displays the websites with posts I have yet to read. After that, I click on a website to display the list of unread posts. I then tap the ‘all items’ icon to show me all the posts from that website. If I were to go back up that list of websites, the switcher would switch back to displaying the ‘unread’ list of websites:
Terribly confusing, and having habituated myself to that dilemma from previous versions of Reeder, Reeder 3 changes how the switcher works entirely. It’s confusing, to say the least, and I have to learn through this new convention all over again. Perhaps a preference setting would be great?
Reeder’s general app design is fantastic. Graphically, the details put into the app are great. There’s rounded app corners (a personal favorite), subtle textures, custom iOS modal boxes and many little icons for folders. Aside from that, there’s many little touches and fixes that the previous versions of Reeder lacked, or otherwise, needed. Out of many of these, a favorite of mine is the ability add subscriptions. (Finally!)
Now; readability. Reading through single articles in Reeder is great. The UI is ultra-clean and minimal, whilst at the same time functional and useful. However, there are three oddly-placed buttons at the top of every article: the ‘back’ arrow, the Readability read-later ‘couch’ button, and the text-adjust button. They look distracting and irrelevant at times, and albeit I use Readability all the time (for the purpose of reading them later), there’s no point as Reeder saves and caches the article internally, and Reeder comes in with Readability integration tied — with exactly the same article view. (See below.)
The buttons up the top ruin my reading experience, and they seem rather vague amidst the clean, minimal looks of Reeder’s UI design.
Another thing that’s interesting about Reeder is that the app feels really fluid, and literally, visually flexible. In terms of animation, the app feels very ‘rubbery’ and foldable. Taking cues from Clear, Reeder comes with slick animations that, during those in-between times as you pace from article to article, make you smile with beautiful folding animations and ‘elastic’ pull effects. Because of this, Reeder feels very much like a true app— where content isn’t static, where it isn’t a mockup of a printed, page, but a more fluid, dynamic medium.
In fact, the (amateurish) video below shows that in action. Please note, I didn’t add audio in the video.
I think Silvio Rizzi, once again, has foreseen the future of apps.
Reeder 3, in its totality, is an app generally focused on consumption. Amidst all other information-consumption apps out already in the App Store, and amidst its huge competitors like Flipboard, Flud, Pulse, Newsify and more, Reeder stands out to be one of the many great examples of what an app signifies: that content isn’t just static; it can be fluid, dynamic, minimal, precise, and flexible.
“Reach for the star.”
Get Reeder 3 for $3 at the App Store.