Unread: the brief review


Unread article list dual

Unread is a new RSS reader for iPhone by Jared Sinclair, also developer of Riposte (an App.Net client) and Whisper (a group messaging app for App.Net).

Jared Sinclair begins his article Designing Unread by stating that at the time he decided to make Unread, he wasn’t using RSS anymore. I had stopped checking and reading my RSS feeds on the iPhone soon after Google shut down Google Reader and my then-favourite RSS app, Reeder, stopped working as a consequence. Then Feedly debuted, and I decided to use that service mainly because it made the transition from my previous Google Reader account very painless.

But when I resumed reading RSS feeds on iOS, it was only on the iPad, and with the Feedly iOS app itself, which I instantly liked for its Flipboard-style article presentation. On the iPhone, at first I thought about returning to Reeder after its update as Reeder 2, but I admit to not being thrilled by having to pay €4.49 for an app that had essentially regained its ability to synchronise with a RSS service, and not much else. In recent times, an interesting app — My Paper by Harry Works — brought me back to reading RSS feeds on my iPhone. It’s a free app, with a nice iOS 7 design, and there’s much to like about it. But I ultimately knew it was a temporary solution.

As soon as I heard about Jared Sinclair’s project, and read his article The Philosophy of Unread, My Forthcoming RSS App, I was sold. Considering how much I like Riposte, I knew that Unread was going to be an app made with care and attention to those details that really make an app work. I knew I would purchase it as soon as it hit the App Store.

I promised a brief review. Here it is, in the form of a list of personal highlights about Unread.

  1. The choice of typefaces is perfect. Whitney and Whitney Condensed by Hoefler & Co. They make for very pleasant reading (see image above).
  2. Gestures. In a post directed to Sinclair over at App.Net, I wrote: I usually don’t like apps whose navigation relies on gestures a lot (I am a button fan), but your apps are something different — gestures are implemented so thoughtfully it all feels very natural. And I mean every word. Perhaps the reason I like gestures in both Riposte and Unread is well explained in Sinclair’s Designing Unread: “One of the things I learned from people’s positive feelings about Riposte was the importance of using gestures solely for navigation and not mixing navigation gestures with action gestures.”
  3. The bottom bar. You always know where you are.
  4. Article summaries are not truncated.
  5. This: If an article is determined to be a Linked-List style article — i.e. the article’s URL is a link to another site and not the permalink — then the domain of the linked item’s URL is displayed at the bottom of the summary. (I’m quoting again from Sinclair’s article)
  6. The tasteful use of colours. Unread’s basic palette revolves around white, black, red and dark grey. As a result, all icons appearing in menus throughout Unread really pop. I like that.
  7. The easter eggs (hidden colour themes).
  8. Gestures. Again. You don’t have to position your thumb on a particular spot to swipe and navigate inside the app. “This helps make Unread comfortable to use with one hand, no matter what size iPhone you have or how big your hands are.” (Again quoting from Designing Unread)
  9. Unread has character. See this other quote from Sinclair: “I didn’t make it to be a feature-for-feature replacement for an app you may already be using. That would make Unread merely a thin coat of paint on old ideas.”
  10. The bottom bar in Unread’s built-in Web browser. Nothing special, you may say. I say it fits perfectly the app’s fluid navigation.
  11. Unread performs very well on an older device like my iPhone 4.
  12. There are 1.0 apps which, after purchasing them and using them for a bit, get me thinking about which features they lack. You know, when you think It would be cool if (App X) had this and/or could do that…. After purchasing Unread yesterday, I had 395 unread articles in my feeds and spent a good while reading them, enjoying Unread for a good couple hours of continued use. Never for a second did I think something was lacking or needed refinement. To me, Unread is that good. But of course it’s a matter of personal tastes and needs.

Launch price: $2.99/€2.69. It’s worth every cent.

The Author

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