Google Reader is unarguably an extremely popular RSS news reader with a very good mobile interface for the iPhone. But as good as the mobile interface is, for me well done native applications will always beat an in-browser experience. A good iPhone app that synchronizes with Google Reader already exists by the name of Byline ($4.99, iTunes link), but a new one has just been released that is worth your attention.
I used Byline for a few months before finally tiring of not having the ability to unsubscribe from feeds that I'd lost interest in. In fact, I switched to NetNewsWire (free, iTunes link) on the Newsgator platform for just that reason. But this new RSS reader has come along with not only the ability to synchronize with Google Reader, but also the ability to manage my Google Reader subscriptions right on my iPhone. This new (to me, anyway) app is called Feeds ($2.99, iTunes link).
It's almost impossible not to draw a direct comparison between Byline and Feeds, since they both are accomplishing the same essential task. The aforementioned feed management in Feeds is fairly comprehensive: you can subscribe to new feeds, unsubscribe from existing feeds, rename feeds, and manage feed "categories", which map to your Google Reader tags. In terms of other things Feeds does better than Byline, speed of synchronization would be high on the list, app responsiveness is better while synchronizing, the main buttons to switch between posts are in the middle of the screen so lefties like me can just as easily use them, and Feeds offers 4 different color themes (default green, blue, black, and orange). Byline has Feeds beat in one areas: it supports the Notes feature in Google Reader that allows you to share items with annotations.
Along with the lack of Google Reader Notes support, I have a couple gripes about Feeds. The Category feature forces you to choose one category per feed, rather than working like tags in Google Reader, where a feed can belong to multiple tags. Also, in my testing not all of the posts showed up in some of my feeds, particularly the older ones. For example, the unread stamp for the feed might read 13, but only one or two posts (and sometimes none at all) actually appear, even with all of the settings completely maxed out. This could be a bug, or just me not fully understanding just what is or isn't downloaded by the program.
Notwithstanding those gripes, I'm going to give Feeds a first-page spot on my iPhone, and use it as my default reader. There is a lot to like about it, and the developer's blog is active with details about updates and dialog with users in the comments.
What's your favorite iPhone RSS reader, and why?
[via Steve Rubel]