NetNewsWire – Review

On July 16, 2008

App Type: Uncategorized

NetNewsWire – Review

Our rating:

By: NewsGator Technologies

Version #: 1

Date Released: 2008-07-06


Price: 0.00

User Rating:

RSS feeds are a huge part of how I keep up with the news these days. I love the fact that RSS keeps me up to date in real time. I love the fact that RSS means I only have to receive the news I want to read.

Yup, RSS feeds are the "Have it your way" approach to current event.

Care about entertainment news? You can get regularly updated feeds.
Don’t care about such news? Don’t get the feeds. It is as easy as that.

I care about current events, politics, the environment and technology. As a result I receive regular feeds from numerous sources on each. I don’t care particularly about entertainment or sports news, however, so you won’t find me receiving any feeds on these subjects.

Until recently I used Google’s excellent reader on my notebook, desktop and iPhone. A few months ago, however, I made the move to NetNewsWire. The reason for the move was simple- NetNewsWire offered a free desktop application for receiving and reading RSS feeds. This meant I could load up on feeds in the morning and read them on my notebook regardless of whether or not I had an available WiFi connection. Moreover, because NetNewsWire is part of the NewsGator family, I was also to access the same feeds from my iPhone. A quick sync of either and the same content was reflected on all my machines.

There was one problem with this setup, however. Since NewsGator was a web app it required a data connection. When one was available it worked just fine, even over Edge, but without a data connection it was useless.

Well, as I posted last week, since last Friday that is no longer the case and I am one happy RSS-hound.

I was thrilled to find that NetNewsWire had a free offering on the iTunes App Store and it was one of the first applications I downloaded.

The iPhone version of NetNewsWire is, for all intents and purposes, the iPhone equivalent of the Mac application. It is a resident program that employs NewsGator to keep RSS feeds up to date and in sync across multiple machines. And because it is resident on the iPhone having a data connection is no longer an issue. So long as you load your feeds when you do have a connection you can catch up on the latest news no matter where you are.

Having now used NetNewsWire for a few days I feel I can strongly recommend it. In fact, thanks to the iPhone version of NetNewsWire I find myself using my desktop/notebook version a whole lot more. The iPhone version is that good.

The setup is simple so long as you already have a NewsGator / NetNewsWire account. "Purchase" the free app, download it and fire it up. The first time you use it you are greeted by a screen asking you to input your NewsGator Username and Password.  

Log in and hit the"Switch to this Account" button. That’s all it takes to begin enjoying some RSS feed goodness. (I also love the fact that by returning to this screen you can switch to a different account. That means you could, if you so desired, have separate accounts for different types of news. Personally I have no need for that but it is nice to know it is  an option.)

The main screen shows subscribed feeds and offers just two buttons. The "Sync" button quickly updates feeds based upon the information on the NewsGator servers and the "Account" button gives the option to switch accounts and to change location name. According to this window, "Your location name should be different on each computer, iPhone and iPod where you read the news."

The sync process is relatively quick, especially over WiFi. The best thing about the iPhone resident version of NetNewsWire, though, is how easy it is to read feeds on it. The lettering of the articles is large and clear, navigation is simple and each page offers the option to open the full article in Safari. At the bottom of each page is the option to email that particular piece to someone else or jump straight to any comments that have been posted on the article.  A permanent feature on each page is a prominent "plus" sign which adds that post to your "clippings" for later access.

In every test I have performed, a clipping made on my iPhone was reflected on my notebook within seconds.

Having read the reviews over on iTunes, I got the sense I am using a different application than many others. Many are panning the app. I love it. For example….

I have a lot of feeds but unlike many of the reviewers I have not seen the app get bogged down badly.

Like others who criticize the app, I too would love the app to set a custom order for my feeds rather than alphabetize them but have long overcome that limitation be adding letters to the name of the feeds. This creates the custom order I want.

One critique offered is the lack of a "Mark As Unread" button so that it can be accessed at a different time. While there isn’t one, by adding an article to my web clippings I achieve the same end. 

Another criticism is that "there is no way to read all unread items- you have to move in and out of your various folders". That simply isn’t true. Once I have selected an unread item the large, clear button that says "Next Unread" moves right to the NEXT UNREAD item.

Finally, I have not found the app to be buggy in the least.

For me, the iPhone/iPod Touch version of NetNewsWire is as close to the desktop version as I have seen. In fact, the only feature I find truly lacking is the ability to access my clippings from my iPhone.

As I previously noted, I find myself using my desktop version a whole lot less now. It is that good. If you are a newshound NetNewsWire may be your newest friend. I highly recommend it.  

Read the Developer's Notes:
NetNewsWire is an RSS reader for iPhone— you can read news from the millions of weblogs and sites that publish RSS feeds.Because NetNewsWire syncs with all of NewsGator’s free RSS readers, if you read an item on your iPhone, you don’t have to read it again on your Macintosh or other computer. It’s automatically marked as read everywhere.You can also save items for later via the Clippings feature, and any item you clip is available on your other computers. It’s an easy way to save something to read when you have more time.
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danc has written 224 awesome app reviews.