Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

RSS Readers and Rich Client Myths

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I installed iPhone OS 2.0 on my iPhone last Thursday, and immediately set to work pimping out my phone with every halfway decent-looking free app I could cram into its eight shiny gigabytes of flash space. This included NetNewsWire, which I used to use and love way back in the day, but dumped for Google Reader when my primary computer became a Windows machine. 

Since I’m on a Mac 100% of the time now, I decided that it was time to switch back to NNW given the availability of an all-sync’ing, all-dancing set of clients for every environment I could possibly be working in. My exaltation in this new arrangement quickly turned to annoyance and then despair as I realized that NetNewsWire for the iPhone wasn’t nearly as good as the Google Reader web app, and that (here was my real surprise) the NNW app for Mac OS X wasn’t as usable as the full version of Google Reader either!

You’d think that having access to all of that iPhone SDK goodness would make the NNW iPhone app shiny and awesome but, unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Here’s what I like best about the Google Reader iPhone web app:

  • Stream of news: I can thumb through every post in my Google Reader feed without having to fumble through different folders. NNW for iPhone doesn’t give me this ability. Instead, it makes me wade through every folder on my feed list looking for feeds that have unread items.
  • Great performance: Google Reader loads within a couple seconds, even over EDGE. NNW for iPhone takes a few seconds to boot, and I got bored with counting how long it takes to refresh my feeds after 30 seconds…over wifi. Bear in mind that Google Reader is only pulling down the 15 newest unread items at any time, but it still gives me the illusion of instantaneous performance by showing me what I want right away. (on a sidenote, NNW doesn’t even include a ‘UI boot’ Default.png file which means that my iPhone shows me a black screen until NNW finishes loading).  
  • Sharing: Google Reader lets me share items from my RSS feeds through this link. NNW provides no similar mechanism on the Mac or iPhone.

So, anyway, after about 24 hours of suffering through NNW on the Mac and iPhone, I headed back to Google Reader. Buh-bye for now, NNW.

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