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Staying In The Loop: Feed Readers

Often the lunch conversation at work turns to books. Many of my coworkers are avid readers. I, on the other hand, NEVER read books! I can’t remember the last time I’ve read an actual book. I spend most of my “reading time” reading blog post after blog post on a quest to learn as much as possible. It’s actually turning into quite a time-consuming hobby of mine. According to Google Reader Trends, I read approximately 600 blog posts each month. While that might seem like a lot (it is), only a fraction of the blogs I track are even read in Google Reader. I also use Apple Mail, Twitter, and the good ol’ website approach to keep up with the news.

The major topics that I follow are general technology news, mobile news, web/internet news, and Apple news. This includes blogs like TechCrunch, AppleInsider, Daring Fireball, The Google Blog, and Twitter news sources. I’m fascinated with technology and absolutely love to read about the future and how the web is evolving. I think this is a testament to the fact that I picked the perfect career. Not only am I learning a ridiculous amount of stuff about technology, but I’ve also noticed that my writing has been improving as a result of all this reading. I’m always looking to streamline my method for consuming all this news, and I’ve found a few tools that work great.

Some of my feeds are in Apple Mail. This used to be my primary reader.

Apple Mail is my mail client on my Mac. I use it for my IMAP email accounts and I also use it to track a few of my news feeds. Mail is a great app for tracking feeds if you 1) are always on the same computer, 2) don’t require sharing capabilities, and 3) don’t care about syncing with other devices. I use Mail to track my friends’ blogs who update infrequently and those blogs which I’m not in a big hurry to read.

Google Reader has become my primary feed reader recently. The main reason I switched over to Google Reader from Apple Mail was my desire to keep track of feeds from multiple devices. I use 2 different laptops on a daily basis and I needed a centralized place to track my feeds. Also, Google Reader is really good at syncing with mobile devices like my iPhone. Now I can read a post on my phone and it will show up as read on the Google Reader website. This is analogous to using the IMAP protocol for email. Finally, Google Reader allows you to have “friends” and share interesting posts with them. I don’t use this feature much right now, but it’s handy to have.

Newstand is a feed reader application for the iPhone. One of it’s major selling points is keeping itself in sync with my Google Reader account. It also offers offline support so you can download posts you’d like to read before your internet-less flight.  Newsstand is available for $4.99 in the Apple App Store (iTunes link). I highly recommend it for anyone who is heavily reliant on feeds. Here are a few screenshots:

A fancy feed view for Newsstand.

My preferred home screen for tracking feeds.

What feed readers do you use? Have you found a better method for consuming feeds? I’d love to hear it!


Comment from Patrick Mueller
Time November 24, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Google Reader for iPod Touch and desktop. iPod version could be better, a bunch of little warts, and desktop has it’s own warts. Generally, I find both to be pretty good. Having them both in sync is of course awesome. The holy grail of the mobile experience. Biggest thing I’d like to see for mobile is offline mode – download the messages so I can read them disconnected, then sync back up when I’m online again. Wouldn’t be perfect, but would be useful for trips.

IBM-internal feeds I read with Very low traffic. Couldn’t say how well it would work for a lot of traffic.

I also still use NNTP for some mailing lists I follow from gmane (gmane is a blessing and a curse). For that, Thunderbird.

Comment from tayfun
Time November 26, 2009 at 8:19 am

Vienna on the Mac’s, Thunderbird on the Linux and for everything else Google Reader.

I’m also tracking a lot of blogs/streams etc. and trying to find a way to sift through them rapidly. Maybe I should enroll to a rapid reading class :)

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