Who said RSS was dead?

RSS puzzle

RSS has been around for more than a decade now, however, many people have long forgotten its original usefulness. Ever since Google announced the removal of their RSS reader from the market, the focus has once again fallen on RSS and how it helps you syndicate your news more effectively and get up-to-date more quickly.

For those of you who need a refresher, RSS is a set of web feeds of frequently updated sites such as news sites or blogs. These so-called RSS feeds are viewed in what is called an RSS reader which can be desktop-based, cloud-based (viewed over the web) or an extension of one’s Internet browser. We have gathered a few of the top contenders but there are so many out there to choose from and it all comes down to personal preference.

MyAlltop

This is a web-based reader that creates something similar a personal magazine with your favourite websites and blogs displayed, as well as articles that other people view as being worthwhile to read.

You start off by selecting from a myriad of topics already available like, for example, Microsoft, education, citizen journalism, art, advertising and many more. These topics already contain the most well-liked articles that pertain to that particular topic. Along with this you can also go to the “hot topic” page for sites and blogs that are popular and add them to your feed. You can also use the search box to search for the topics that you are interested in. If you feel that your site has a great combination of feeds, you can share it with others via your profile URL. The articles themselves have a few introductory paragraphs with images and to read more you have to click through to the original site.

Alltop

This site is great since there is very little effort that goes into choosing the sites that you think will provide you with the best news. However, the downside of this reader is the fact that you some sites that you may follow on other feeds are not present on this reader and the sheer amount of articles you can sift through can be overwhelming. But there is an advantage to following sites and topics that others have already laboriously searched through since you know you will get the best of the best. The number of articles that this reader provides is enormous and you will definitely find the niche that you feel most comfortable with.

Pulse News (for Android)

Pulse News

This reader is very similar to the Flipboard concept (for those familiar with that app). It focuses its attention on the user interface, and look and feel of the app more than mere functionality. It is great for any phone that is highly reliant on its touchscreen and looks beautiful on a tablet. It provides you with sliders that you can pull from right to left to view the latest articles, with the newest articles displayed first. To refresh, you simply pull a slider to the right and it automatically refreshes the page.

When clicking on an article it shows you a cleaned-up version of the original article or blog post with the option of viewing the original on the web. There are separate categories with sites and blogs (the most popular ones) already loaded onto your feed to which you can add extra content and then organise it in one of the categories. In terms of personalisation, one can edit the preset categories to your liking as well as add one’s that may have been forgotten as well as change the font and colour of the articles displayed.

One can also save articles for later reading and you can add friends to your network to view what they have been reading or what content they are adding. It takes awhile to get used to the layout of Pulse (such as when you want to add or edit categories, or remove content) but once you get the hang of it, it is a fun little app for users that aren’t too serious about their news.

NetNewsWire (for iOS)

NetNewsWire for Mac

This reader is specifically developed for the iOS system and has apps for Mac, iPad and iPhone. It supports both RSS and Atom, and you have the option of adding podcasts as well.

Feeds that you add to NetNewsWire are organised into folders and uses Spotlight to search easily for items in your stream. These folders are also organised according to the type of news you frequently open, which ones you do not read and so forth. The app is displayed in your Dock and shows you the amount of new items that are unread, almost the same as an email provider would.

One can also specify how long particular items from a specific feed will be kept in your feed so as not to clutter your space and you can clip articles to store them for later reading (this links to Instapaper). You can also organise your feeds according to specific searches and tags in blogs and other sites. The app adds feeds according to your previous specifications and you can then decide whether you want to keep them or not.

For those missing Google Reader, remember that you can sync existing feeds from it with NetNewsWire so as to not lose out on what you’ve built up over time.

Similar : Pulp for Mac

Browser or web-based RSS readers

For those of you who like to have your news feed at the tip of your fingers at all time, in-browser extensions are the way to go. Each unique browser will have their own extensions for news feeds.

Firefox has Brief, an add-on for the Mozilla browser. The add-on is unfortunately not so user-friendly and has you engaging in a long process in order to get the feeds that you want. It is also quite disorganized and there is no way of removing articles that you have already read.

For Chrome there is RSS Feed Reader and Feedly. Both of these are worthwhile to get if this browser is your top choice. RSS Feed Reader is tiny and does not take up a separate page in your browser. You simply click on the extension in the top right-hand corner and a pop-up appears on your screen. This is great for quick reference and checking of news.

Readers built into your email program

For those using Microsoft’s Outlook as their preferred e-mail provider, you also have the option of adding an RSS feed that you can view while checking your e-mail. One of the more popular ones to use is Newsgator Inbox for Outlook. It organizes your RSS feeds in a river of news while displaying any unread articles or posts according to subscriptions. It provides your Outlook inbox with a great search tool to look for articles according to the author, date, topic or keyword. One can also save articles and view them offline. Along with this you can link Windows Live Writer to Outlook and post to your blog from there. Also link to the Newsgator Online Services for news that are only available to Newsgator and Outlook users.

Other RSS feed readers that are aimed specifically at the Windows operating system  include Newzcrawler, Omea Reader, Sharpreader, Blog Navigator and Awasu Personal Edition.