Reeder 2 for Mac Beta

I’ve been a long-time fan of Silvio Rizzi’s Reeder 2 for iOS. Reeder is an excellent RSS client, and it remains my preferred way to consume news feeds on the go.

Earlier today, Rizzi announced a public beta of Reeder 2 for Mac. Anyone who wants to try the software before it is, presumably, sold on the Mac App Store can check it out here.

I’m pretty picky about the software I use to read news feeds with, particularly since I can go through hundreds of articles a day. My current setup is Balazs Varkonyi’s ReadKit, which I’ve been enjoying for the past couple months. Nevertheless, there’s nothing I like more than when my favorite apps get competition, and the Reeder 2 for Mac beta takes some big steps towards hijacking my current workflow.

reeder for mac

If you’re familiar with the iOS client, you will feel right at home in the Mac beta. The animations, icons, and navigational hierarchy found in the iOS client have been lovingly carried over, and the Mac beta exhibits many design decisions that create a nice subdued-skeumorphism middle ground between iOS and OS X .

different reeder colors

There are five built-in color schemes available. From left to right: Reeder, Dark Reeder, Light Reeder, Standard, and Dark White. Outside of each theme, there is not a lot of customization you can do (article display options are not available with this beta), but I found the standard Reeder theme to be perfectly fine for reading.

reeder options screen

The most prominent influence from iOS comes in the Mac beta’s Preferences window. Look at the rounded toggle switches and list view. Surprisingly, iOS design conventions feel much more at home in an OS X app than I thought they would. As a growing number of consumers get an iPod, iPhone, and iPad as their first device, I wouldn’t be surprised to see future OS X interface elements borrow more heavily from their iOS counterparts.

Reeder currently supports Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, and Fever as syncing protocols. It also supports local RSS, for those who don’t use any of the aforementioned services.

minimized layout reeder

One of my favorite features in the Mac beta is the Minimized Layout view, which condenses everything down into a nice, clean layout.

minimized layout reeder with article

When you click (or arrow over) to a story, the sidebar disappears, leaving nothing but a simple window for the text. A bar at the bottom of each article lets you click to the next story, but I prefer to use the arrow keys and keyboard shortcuts to navigate within the app.

reeder vs readkit size

Left: Reeder 2 beta (400px). Right: ReadKit (760px)

At their smallest widths, Reeder 2 beta is 47% smaller than ReadKit, which is something I appreciate on my 13-inch Macbook Air. If you’re on an even smaller screen (11-inch Macbook Air or you want multiple windows open at the same time), Minimized Layout is a great way to save precious screen space without sacrificing functionality.

Overall, I’m impressed with this beta. I won’t be switching to Reeder full time, but I do plan to flip between it and ReadKit over the next week or so. It’s interesting to see the various iOS interface elements make their way into OS X, and, if Rizzi keeps them in future betas, this could become an important convention for developers to consider.

April 11

Apple WWDC Set for June 2

Exciting news. Returning to the Moscone Center in San Francisco, tickets to the week-long conference cost $1,599 a pop. In the past, attendance has been around 5,000.

One big change from last year: instead of first-come-first-serve, tickets to this year’s conference will be offered to registered applicants by random selection. Considering that WWDC 2013 sold out in under 2 minutes, this should help ensure that everyone has a fair chance at attending.

April 03

Where Every Story Looks the Same

The trend towards big and beautiful online article design is becoming more common. This past year, the New York Times went through a large redesign, focusing on bigger type and giving every article a command of the page. Just this last month, did the same, rolling out a new, bigger layout — following the same large-article trend as the Times.

Although these new layouts bode well for readability, Felix Salmon, writing for Rueters, argues that the change in design removes important visual cues that determine whether an article is important or not:

More to the point, news websites have always struggled with any one-size-fits-all approach to stories. A format which works for a 6,000-word feature is not going to work well for a 150-word brief. Web designers have known this for years, but still news sites tend to put all of their stories into exactly the same template — and increasingly that template is designed for ambitious longform storytelling. Which, of course, generally accounts for only a tiny fraction of the material on the site.

He goes on, explaining that the new design pulls a bait-and-switch on the reader, ruining expectations:

The result is a cognitive disconnect: why is the website design telling me that this short blog post is incredibly important, when in reality it’s just a blockquote and a single line of snark? […] It’s time for websites to put a lot more effort into de-emphasizing less important stories, reserving the grand presentation formats only for the pieces which deserve it.

All valid points, but I think Salmon misses the mark.

I would argue that the readers of today don’t notice, or care all that much, that all of the Times’s articles have the same layout. For a generation that has grown up getting their news on the internet, a literal smorgasbord of different layouts and designs, bigger text and full-width images doesn’t always imply importance. Where Salmon calls for the web designs to “bring back a little bit of noise and clutter” for the sake of visual hierarchy, I would rather do without.

The new designs used by the New York Times and Time may not cater to those readers who relied on visual cues to curb their reading. However, the new layouts, from what I can gather, are a strong attempt to make reading experience a priority, regardless of what piece you may be viewing.

In an world where your readers will be using hundreds of different devices to read your content, ensuring everything looks good everywhere is worth the annoyance of change.

March 31

Scratch-Off Media

Chris Bowler, with some thoughtful reflection on the effects of getting everything in real time:

But the real problem here is not the technology itself, but our perception of value. We’ve elevated the mundane to the top of our priority list and allowed the possibility of news from someone else to take precedence over our own work. That scares me.

March 31