The internet is filled with information that can easily overload consumers. Even when you plan to read featured articles and watch trending videos, it is hard to accomplish that as well. Basically, it is challenging to stay informed and up-to-date.
If you consume a lot of content on a daily basis – read news, check blogs, view YouTube hits – you don’t need to keep opening the websites every hour to find updates. RSS readers curate content automatically, pulling the most relevant content into an organized, user-friendly interface that is easy to read, sort, share, favorite, and download for offline reading.
What is RSS?
Apparently, there is no clear definition for the acronym, though it is believed to stand for (in order of popularity):
- Really Simple Syndication
- Rich Site Summary
- RDF Site Summary (RDF = Resource Description Framework)
The advantages of RSS are simple: rather than visiting multiple websites and browsing for updated content, RSS delivers new website content directly to you. So, if you have 15 favorite websites, RSS allows you to automatically gather new content from those sites without having to visit them.
To enjoy the convenience of RSS, you should follow two steps: first, find a good RSS reader for your platform (iOS, Android, Chrome, etc.); and second, subscribe to the RSS feed from your favorite sites and add them to the reader.
An RSS reader, also known as an aggregator, is a software application that allows you to read sites and blogs that publish RSS feeds. It converts the XML code to a readable format. Readers can be web-based, browser-based, or in the form of a downloadable app. The choice depends on how you want to access the feeds.Here are some of the best RSS readers for most major platforms including iOS, Android Mac & PC Click To Tweet
Typically, RSS readers download text and images from articles for you to read offline, and they’re listed in chronological order. Many also include tools to help you discover other websites that provide your favorite topics, and allow you to save your favorite articles for later reference.
There are two primary types of RSS readers:
Online RSS Services
Run in the background automatically finding new content as soon as it gets published. These readers allow you to access the content online, or sync articles with apps for your PC or mobile device, which are made by that RSS service or third-party developers.
Native RSS apps
These sync RSS feeds directly on your computer or phone, and only work with the popular RSS services.
Google Reader (RIP)
Google Reader was considered the gold standard for RSS readers until July 2013 when Google brought the decade-plus success of the tool to an abrupt end in order to focus on other products. This was a major upset, but it also gave rise to hundreds of great RSS apps competing for the previously Google Reader users.
Many of these tools are polished feed readers that allow you to follow your favorite sites.
RSS Readers for iOS (iPhone/iPad)
1 Feed Wrangler – iOS, Web
This is a distraction-free RSS reader that is claimed to offer the cleanest interface among all RSS tools. With its user-friendly interface, you can easily manage feeds, follow your favorite websites, or even use its podcast stream to join podcasts.
The tool uses streams to keep your podcast and site subscriptions organized. These streams can be assigned specific subscriptions or topics, as per your liking. You can also empty your reading queue to start afresh when you feel overwhelmed with content.
Feed Wrangler is a reading-only tool with no social media integrations. However, you can move articles you want to read later to Pinboard, Pocket, or Instapaper with one click. The tool costs $19 per year.
2 Reeder – iOS, Mac
Reeder is available for both iOS and Mac devices, though it is more commonly used in desktops due the convenience of keyboard support, subscription management, and the option to open links in the background of your browser.
Still, the tool syncs flawlessly with other RSS readers including Feed Wrangler, Feedly, and Feedbin, pulling in unread items depending on their state with the respective readers. For instance, if you mark an item as “read” on Feedly, it won’t appear in Reeder. The tool is fast, considering that it can sync with a Feedly account containing 4,500 unread items.
RSS Readers for Android (phone/tablet)
1 Feedly for Android, iOS, Web
This app gained a massive 3 million new users in less than one month after Google Reader was discontinued. It is arguably the most popular RSS reader today, considering that it is accessible via iOS devices, as well as Android and Web platforms.
It is characterized by clean and simple, user-friendly interface that makes it ideal for casual readers looking to browse through their favorite websites in a single place.
The best feature in Feedly is its unique design that allows the user to create their own newsfeed comprising only the topics they’re interested in. You can perform searches for website names or topics to view content. The reader also curates “starter kits” of articles in specific topics, which makes it easier to discover new sites with your favorite content.
Feedly integrates well with many social media apps so you can easily share content. The Pro version (for $5.41 per month or $65 per year) offers extra features such as automatic backups to Dropbox and keyword-based search.
2 NewsBlur – Android, iOS, Web
As with many other top RSS readers, NewsBlur allows the user to subscribe to multiple sites and organize content into folders. It has a unique reading mode that allows you to either view a simplified form of the article, or view the original content from its source website.
The best feature in NewsBlur is its elaborate filtering that automatically highlights or hides content based on your habits. Depending on the filters you use on a regular basis, the system learns your preferences and attempts to surface the content that appeals to you the most. This is a great feature since you can subscribe to many websites and continue to enjoy reading content that is meaningful to you.
The app allows you to create a “blurblog” comprising your favorite stories; find other NewsBlur users with similar interests and follow their blurblogs; and share your favorite content within the app or on social media.
The app is free if you subscribe to less than 64 websites. But for unlimited subscriptions, saved searches, and other features, you will have to pay for a Premium account at $24 per year.
RSS Readers for the Web
1 Feedbin – Web only
This is a very popular RSS app that features a tagging system for organizing content into categories. The design is clutter-free for easy reading, plus it integrates with most of the popular social media and Read Later apps for easy sharing. You can also add custom sharing services to share content via non-supported apps.
The best feature in Feedbin is its advanced search function that allows you to search content by keyword and save your search criteria, as well. With this feature, you can set up a folder that produces a fast overview of specific topics, and use the saved search API for more options than just viewing it in the reader.
The app, however, requires a subscription at $3 per month.
2 Inoreader – Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone
The greatest feature in the Inoreader tool is its “Discovery Mode” that helps you to find and follow trending items and specific topics. It is a great tool for those who don’t know where to start with RSS feeds, plus it allows you to group feeds in folders and tag individual articles as you read them for better organization. The tool also allows you to write more sophisticated rules to sort content automatically.
With Inoreader, you can subscribe to Google+ and Twitter users or searches so you don’t have to access the feeds separately; share your favorite content within Inoreader (with your followers) or on social networks; and store content that you have read permanently. Unlike other RSS tools that cache content temporarily, Inoreader offers unlimited archives.
For a customizable dashboard and ad free reading, consider getting the Starter Plan at $14.99 per year.
RSS Readers for Mac (Native RSS)
1 Newsbar – Mac, iOS
The most outstanding feature on the Newsbar is the ability to add a news ticker on your Mac or iOS device that is similar to those on the bottom of TV news stations. When installed, Newsbar shows the newest headlines on the side of your Mac’s display or in a dedicated app on your iOS mobile device.
The tool also allows you to hover over a seemingly interesting headline to view the entire post; or to set up notifications for certain keywords and conceal the Newsbar so it only alerts you when there is new content about your preferred topics.
It is a great way to stay updated when working on your Mac desktop, though you will need to part with $4.99 for Mac and $3.99 for iOS.
2 ReadKit – Mac
This popular RSS reader app automatically syncs feeds and integrates with the most popular RSS reading later tools and other services on Mac desktops. ReadKit can sync your Feed Wrangler, NewsBlur, Feedbin, Fever, or Feedly feeds to your Mac, as well as any articles you have saved to Pocket or Instapaper.
The tool features an elaborate search and sort function that lets you create custom rules to save articles in the right folders. You can also personalize the user interface with typefaces and themes, and store articles offline for access when you don’t have an internet connection.
The app comes with a 14-day trial period, after which you pay $4.99.
RSS Readers for PC (Windows, Linux)
1 RSSOwl – Mac, PC (Windows, Linux)
RSSOwl is a great desktop RSS app that allows for exceptional customization. The app syncs RSS feeds automatically, allowing you to maintain a local database of your favorite articles on your PC. You can then access the topics you want using its search feature.
RSSOwls search function allows you to use logic expressions to find anything in the articles. You can save the searches to create dynamic feeds for finding articles in the future, or use the “News Filter” option to receive automated alerts when certain criteria are met.
You can save and organize your favorite articles by moving them to the archive folder or using the “News Bin” feature.
As its name suggests, this PC reader focuses on providing the user with technical options whilst keeping the interface simple and clean. It has a user-friendly interface, as well as lots of great features including notifications for feed updates, search function, and the option to filter your feeds
How to subscribe to RSS Feeds
If a blog or website offers RSS feeds, it typically displays an orange icon, or some other clickable icon with the words “RSS”, “XML”, “Feed”, or “Subscribe”.
Clicking on the icon should display the XML code. To subscribe to the feed, right-click (long press for mobile devices) the icon and select “copy link location” or “copy shortcut”. Next, go to your reader and find the option to “add feed” so you can paste the URL you just copied. You are done!
Once the blog or website publishes new content, it will be delivered to your reader.
Build your own RSS reader for sites that don’t include RSS feeds
With so many RSS readers for different devices, you should be able to find one that suits you perfectly. But if you’re not satisfied, you can make use of tools like “Zapier” to create a personalized reader.
Zapier RSS integrations give you a simple means to subscribe to RSS feeds when:
- You just want to see the newest articles from your favorite site without using an app to keep track of them
- Need a more robust way to log the articles published
- You need a customized RSS feed with filters
- Your favorite sites and apps don’t include RSS feeds
In other words, Zapier can help to transform nearly every app’s notifications into a stream of RSS feeds.
Over-subscribing will defeat the merits of RSS. Like email, RSS can also become overloaded. So, start small with just a few feeds of the sites you are really interested in, and then grow your subscription list gradually.
Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite/best RSS Reader, we’d love to hear from you
Feedbro RSS feed reader is also really awesome. It has built-in Rule engine that allows you to filter out stuff you don’t care about, highlight words/border etc. It also has built-in Readability style engine that let’s you see full text of the article instead of some short summary provided by the feed. It’s really fast.
Check it out at http://nodetics.com/feedbro
Why not include Leaf?
Sanu Soman says
Hi Daniel, would you please consider reviewing our app, its called PaperOak. Its available on the Web and on Android. Please consider adding it to your list based on your review. Here are the links to our website, app and blog.