NetNewsWire for the iPad
Until I got my hands on the iPad, I could never have imagined how much better applications look and feel than on an iPhone or iPod touch. Maybe it’s because of my increasingly poor eyesight or the hype of a new toy, but many of the larger, redesigned apps designed for the iPad are simply awesome!
Among the first iPad optimized apps that I wanted to download is NetNewsWire. As part of my weekday morning routine, I fire up NetNewsWire on my iPhone and let it update my RSS feeds. I review stories before taking my children to school, and read longer stories throughout the day. For the most part, NetNewsWire has worked fine on my iPhone. I‘m not sure if it’s the best RSS reader on the market, but I use it because it syncs with my Google Reader account.
Before I realized that NewsGator had posted its app for the iPad, I had downloaded the iPhone version to my iPad. Here’s how phone version looks on the iPad.
As I‘ve written before, iPhone applications simply do not look appealing on the iPad. They don’t of course take good advantage of the larger screen real estate of the iPad. Viewed at their regular iPhone size, they look too small to read. Enlarged, they are okay, but the pixilations of text and graphics can be a little annoying.
Like other leading app developers, NewsGator overhauled much of its application for the iPad. The new NetNewsWire interface takes great advantage of the iPad screen, which makes for a better reading experience of downloaded articles and blog posts.
With the additional screen space, the list of articles for each feed is always visible in the horizontal position of the iPad. With some feeds, the full version of an article appears in the main section of the app, which means one less click to start reading the article. Other feeds show you a summary of the selected article, and you must click again to read the full version.
The little check button on the top of the feed panel is where you click to mark all articles as read. The process requires two clicks, which I find annoying because if you have lots of feeds, you’ll no doubt be using this "mark as read" button a lot. It should be a simple one-click button as in the iPhone version.
In the vertical position, you need to click the feed button to access the list of feeds and articles. This is also a little annoying but understandable. There are arrows at the top of the menubar that navigate previous and next articles in the feed.
In both viewing positions (I find the vertical view the easiest and fastest way to navigate through feeds) you can star articles as favorites or for later reading. You can also email them, post a link to Twitter, open them in the Safari Browser, or send them to Instapaper—another excellent application that has been optimized for the iPad.
I don’t use the desktop version of NetNewsWire; instead, I use Google Reader, which syncs with the mobile app versions of NetNewsWire. So when you mark all articles as read in the mobile app, those updates are made on the Google Reader side, and vice-a-versa. The update syncing process doesn’t work instantly or automatically all the time, but this is not a huge problem.
Overall, NetNewsWire's clean interface and easy navigation will be appealing to new and existing users of the reader. However, the $10 price tag may make some customers hesitant to upgrade. Given the labor involved in developing, maintaining, and supporting applications like these, I think the price is warranted.
NetNewsWire is not a new kid on the block. It’s a stable, practical application for those of us who have a significant list of RSS feeds we check on a daily basis.