I suppose that bit comes in a little early for a typical review, but there it is. Not that there's much wrong with Silvio Rizzi's Reeder, but that app, while aesthetically pleasing, has faced an onslaught of challengers over the years, and so on various platforms I've grudgingly replaced it with uglier but more workflow friendly options, first on the Mac with ReadKit, and more recently with Mr. Reader on the iPad. Were Mr. Reader a universal app it might be on my iPhone too, but it isn't, and so Reeder 2 had remained on my home screen.
Enter Unread. Jared Sinclair has strong feelings on app and software design. Follow his twitter or read his blog and you'll hear his thoughts on the matter frequently and loudly. His passion for design shows in Unread, it's undeniably handsome, though in a quiet, understated kind of way. The typography is right on, featuring the oh-so-easy-on-the-eyes Whitney font, Unread is both a pleasure to read and to look at, which outside of Reeder can't generally be said about most RSS clients. Unread also feels good (minus one nitpick - more on that in a moment), with easy swipes and scrolls navigating most of its largely button and toolbar free UI.
Another nice touch, Unread's ample “sharing” options. Of course the basics are there like Twitter and Facebook, but Unread also sports more “advanced” choices like App.net, Pinboard, “read it later” services, even “copy quote” and “copy url”. Unread also integrates with the excellent Drafts app using that app's URL scheme to pull over selected text, article title, website, and link URL. Though not exactly formatted to my liking, it's a nice workflow touch for those who use Drafts as a gateway to send text to other applications.
Despite what must seem like a love affair at the moment, there's a number of things Unread does or doesn't do that irk me. The oddest one is Unread's inability to scroll from one article to another. Whether an oversight or design choice, I don't know, but in practice it means you need tap to read an article, swipe back to get the article list, then tap the next article. I know via Twitter that a fix for this is on Sinclair's to do list, so for the moment I'm happy to patiently wait for it.
That nitpick comment from earlier? Well, for me the right to left edge swipe that reveals Unread's contextual options (like sharing) is a bit too sticky, more of an “edge pull” than an “edge swipe”. I assume it's to prevent accidental implementation but I don't like what feels like extra effort to bring those options over. Next up, Unread's browser. Great that one is included, and its history navigation is a nice touch, but page loads tend to be painfully slow and the design of its navigation bar looks awkwardly out of place. Other quibbles include Evernote not being included in the share options, the inability to add or delete feeds from the app, and more selfishly - Sinclair's devilish way of unlocking “easter egg” bonus color themes. Outside of what I'd call a “missing” article advance feature, none of my complaints are deal breakers, though here's to hoping some if not all can be addressed in future updates. Unread isn't perfect, but I'm confident Sinclair will guide Unread closer to that goal over time, and for the moment the pro to con ratio is tipped handily to the pro side.
So back to where I started: Unread has replaced Reeder 2 on my home screen and has rekindled my interest in reading RSS on the iPhone. The app is beautiful, background refresh is brilliant, the reading experience relaxing, and the sharing options almost perfect. It isn't the workflow dynamo that Mr. Reader is, and should that app ever make it to iPhone, Unread would definitely be tested. Until then I recommend settling in with Sinclair's Unread… you're just not going to find a better looking, smoother feeling, easier reading RSS reader for your iPhone.
Unread - An RSS Reader by Nice Boy LLC is $4.99 and is available for iPhone. Unread supports Feedwrangler, Feedbin, and Feedly.