Mac RSS feed reader apps are a booming software genre. Every few months a new powerful app is published, with a polished interface and lots of cool functions. I argue that feed reader apps shouldn’t be designed as if they had to cover complicated issues but that they should be tiny and neat tools giving me the information I need, as fast as possible and as easily as possible. I don’t like rocket-science, sophisticated readers, I’m looking for a really, really simple reader app which holds the balance between “too sophisticated” and “too minimalistic”, which is just functional (and beautiful).
Note: “I don’t like” is more or less equivalent to “I don’t need”.
Some things I don’t like
- I don’t like a feed reader app following the classical three-pane approach and showing a list of subscribed feeds, a list of headings of feed items and a feed item’s details at the same time. This uses up so much of my precious screen space – I use a MacBook Air with a 11-inch screen and I need every free pixel I can get.
- I really don’t like to have a list of the feeds I’m subscribed to from where I can select a feed, just give me one list of all feed items of all feeds I’m subscribed to.
- I don’t like to see images in a feed item, they’re just using too much screen space.
- I don’t like the too minimalistic approach to show just the heading of a feed item but I want also at least some part of the summary, if available. If there’s no summary text, the list entry may be smaller to save screen space.
- I don’t like to open the corresponding website inside the feed reader app if I want to read an article represented by a feed item, as I have an internet browser app for that. Open that link in my default browser for me.
- I don’t like having lots of preferences I could fiddle around with (compare, e.g., the preferences windows of Microsoft Word for Mac and Apple’s pages app to get a clue of what I mean). I don’t like having preferences at all.
- I don’t like apps having lots of view options, other options or options at all. Not only that the buttons are cluttering the interface and that the commands are cluttering the menu, it also takes too much time to learn how the app behaves. Having too much choice is dangerous and distracts me of more productive things.
- I don’t like being able to update feeds myself. That should be done automatically. The same is true for deleting old feed items.
- I don’t like having to mark feed items as read or to be shown the number of unread/read/total feed items.
- I don’t like being able to import or export subscriptions or to connect my feed reading experience to social networks or other services.
- I don’t like being able to sync my subscriptions with anything, especially not with Google Reader.
In just one sentence
Feed readers show either too much information or too little information, they are too complicated and they offer too much choice. At least for me.
Things I would love about a feed reader