RSS Feed Readers. What makes a great app?

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In the market for an RSS feed reader? Good for you!

RSS feed readers are back in fashion now more than ever and have so much to offer its users in design and features. I’m here to help you choose the right RSS reader from the get-go.

RSS feed readers – simply explained

RSS feed readers are handy applications, whether web-based or available on mobile devices, for managing and organising content on the Internet. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and what that means is that you have a single dashboard (your reader) for posts from all your favourite websites. You don’t need to manually visit each site. Instead, all newly published posts come to you in order of publication.

How to choose the right RSS feed reader for us?

That’s a tough question, when you don’t know where to start. The blessing and curse of RSS feed readers right now is that there are so many out there that it’s difficult to make heads or tails. Which is the best one overall? Which dominates the market?

The question doesn’t have a definitive answer. I say it’s more about what you need to use it for. Start there and the rest will follow. Nevertheless, we’ve created a handy guide to steer you towards your ideal match.

Large collection of topics

I’m leading with content suggestions and discovery. Whatever your reason for using RSS, there’s no denying that finding new, even better sources is a good thing. RSS readers have been flirting with the idea for content discovery for quite some time and there are good options for all sorts of content discovery. 

Perhaps the best examples here are Inoreader and Feedly. Inoreader has a whole discovery zone, where users can select topics of interest and then explore sub-sections of these major topics like technology, arts and business. Couple that with great search and you have access to what’s going on in the application itself. What are people reading? What are they finding valuable? 

Feedly does something similar in that it has its own area for discovery, but the arrangement of new feeds follows a different system. You have industries at the top, which are then followed by some general trends and professional skills. At the bottom are topics on entertainment and arts.

Chance to personalise

This is where you have quite a lot to choose from. RSS readers are all invested in creating the best customer experience and this extends from something as simple as visually customising your feed reader to how you experience your feeds. Cosmetically, every reader has ways to impress. Feeder, for instance, gives you the opportunity to introduce 10 columns on your dashboard. Inoreader has the capacity for three columns and different colour themes.

Then comes such aspects as how you can filter content. Inoreader has ways to filter single feeds quite well in regards to what content comes your way. If you’re following a lot of news or outlets with a similar body of work, then you can use the Duplicate filter to remove any duplicate posts when a big story breaks. 

Feedly has similar capabilities and even provides paying users access to Leo – an AI assistant, which can be trained to anticipate your likes and dislikes and act accordingly. Leo can prioritise content based on keywords, trends, topics and articles similar to your boards. The more you interact with Leo’s suggestions such as ‘yes, I like this content’ and ‘no, I’d like to see less of it’ the more targeted your feeds will be. 

Good pricing

All this sounds swell, but what about the price tag? Yes, not everything we’ve mentioned above is free to use. You will have to shell some cash every month to get to some of the good functions like Leo and the Duplicate Filters.

RSS feed readers are mostly free to use and still provide enough features to keep users satisfied. This is more than enough for casual users and students, who just need a little bit of order in their reading. But don’t be mistaken, pro accounts don’t cost that much to use. Inoreader can be yours with extended features for as little as 5 euros, and it’s not much different from Feedly.

Now, the more you need it for business purposes – access to social media, automation, integration with other applications and team features – the more you’re going to have to spend. Nevertheless, prices are generous and small operations can afford to foot the bill. 

Support team

I would say support matters most as a decisive criterion when you’re using RSS as a business tool. Not all RSS readers are cut from the same cloth, so you have to consider how much you can rely on support for your needs. The general rule is that the more you pay to use a reader’s more powerful features, the better support is… or at least should be.

Be sure to check in with the company, if you’re interested in a long-term contract for the business plan. You can gauge how quickly they respond and what options they provide. As top performers, Feedly and Inoreader have been very transparent as to what they provide users.

With Inoreader, users can submit their issues through a formal portal. A ticket is created for every reported issue and there are designated teams for every type of bug and issue. Feedly maintains a reputation for responding to customers’ complaints within 24 hours. That’s what you should be getting on that level of performance.  

Frequent updates

An often overlooked criterion would be how often the RSS reader is updated. Why is this important in the first place?

Frequent updates mean that the service is improved overall. This doesn’t necessarily mean just the addition of new features, though that only adds value in the long run. More updates mean an overall healthier service with bugs and inefficiencies rooted out regularly.