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The loss of Google Reader and the dawn of Flipboard-style news apps have tested the resolve of many RSS fans, but at least one champion for the medium hopes to change the way we read news on our iPhone with "a little peace each day through quiet, careful reading." That’s the lofty philosophy behind Unread, an RSS-based reader app that promises to "surprise and delight" users. Unfortunately, the first part of that equation came with the realization that there is no native iPad support – a shame considering that’s where the bulk of my reading is done, aside from perusing a few headlines while on the go.
Setting aside that head-scratcher, Unread is an otherwise capable solution for consuming RSS feeds in the palm of your hand. The app does require syncing via Feedly, FeedWrangler, or Feedbin — there’s no support for standalone feeds, although the developer promises additional service options with future updates. Feeds are presented in unread, all, or saved article views, as well as category and subscription groups — a nice touch when you want to quickly jump into a specific item. Individual entries appear with the full headline and a preview of the first paragraph, which can be handy for skimming, but Unread doesn’t offer a list view for rapid-fire consumption — a reading style the app clearly wasn’t designed for in the first place.
While full-screen reading makes a big difference on the small screen, the gesture-based navigation sometimes makes simple tasks more cumbersome than necessary. While there’s an option to mark articles read as they’re opened, doing so with an entire list of feeds requires an awkward swipe left to access Mark All As Read. Unread does hold promise with features like background sync, extensive sharing options, and day or night (my own favorite) reading themes, and the inclusion of a built-in web browser that retains its own history is also a nice touch.
The bottom line. While Unread checks off most of the required features for any good RSS reader, some awkward navigation and the lack of a native iPad version make it a cautious recommendation for now.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 7.0 or later
Full-screen article view. Super-fast background sync. Can quickly jump straight into specific feeds from account view. Wide variety of customization options.
No native iPad support. Clumsy navigation for frequently used tasks like Mark All As Read. Requires RSS sync account (no standalone feeds). No way to add or edit feeds.