This hoo-ha over Google Reader’s impending demise has concentrated many minds on alternatives. Yesterday I said I was very happy with Feed Wrangler as a replacement for Google Reader. Now I want to talk about ReadKit. For a couple of years I have been using Reeder as a front-end for Google Reader on all my devices, Mac and iOS. I was happy with it, but currently Reeder is lagging behind in support for alternatives to Google Reader. As on my iPad and iPhone, the main use for Reeder was to browse feeds and tag anything of interest to be sent to Instapaper. Mr. Reader has filled the gap on the iPad and I am still relying on Feed Wrangler’s own app for the iPhone. On both I have an Instapaper app to help with my workflow.
On the Mac it is different. Instapaper does not have a native app for OS X so I have been using ReadKit to synchronise with Instapaper and have been extremely happy with the reading experience on the Mac. Yesterday ReadKit expanded its facilities and added my new aggregator of choice, Feed Wrangler, to the list of services it supports. At first I was a little doubtful. How could I use one application to sort out my RSS feeds and, at the same time, handle my Instapaper account?
It turns out to be incredibly easy. I set up Feed Wrangler in ReadKit’s Accounts tab and the app synchronised immediately. My new FW Smart Streams are shown at the top of the Feed Wrangler folder, followed by a list of feeds. So, instead of just seeing Instapaper in the sidebar I now have a choice of Instapaper or Feed Wrangler. Both services can be collapsed to a simple one-liner to avoid clutter.
This is one big improvement. I realise I no longer need two apps, one for browing and one for syncing with Instapaper. At the moment the implementation of FeedWrangler in ReadKit isn’t perfect. For instance, there is no quick way to send stuff to Instapaper from Feed Wrangler. The only current option is to drag and drop an article from the FW section to the Instapaper Read Later folder. It works, but it is cumbersome. I spoke to Balazs Verkonyi of Webin, the ReadKit developer, and he acknowledges the problem. As you can imagine, he is snowed under with work this week as a result of the mass exodus from Google Reader but he promises that the sharing/bookmarking implementation in ReadKit will be improved soon. We will also be getting keyboard navigation. Sounds good to me. With these improvements ReadKit will be the reader of choice for Mac users.
With all this sudden new activity and resulting plethora of choice, it looks as though Google could have done us all a favour by withdrawing from the scene. For years we have all been cruising along complacently. Google’s sudden announcement has concentrated a lot of minds and we are now seeing real advances in RSS services which, only a few months ago, had been written off as outdated and no longer relevant.