Google Reader is dead. We know this for certain as Google announced earlier in March that it plans to pull the plug on its RSS service on July 1, 2013.
Google’s announcement caught the good people of the Internet by surprise and left us wondering, “What next?”
“I believe the reason that Google turned its back on Reader and left its users hanging is that they were users not customers,” David wrote on his blog back in March.
Feed Wrangler relies on revenue from subscriptions to support the platform rather than growing a user base and figuring out how to maintain the service later.
While other RSS services will follow Google’s example and offer its platform at no charge, Feed Wrangler’s approach, for me, is one of its best features.
The transaction is much less ambiguous and murky when you know the terms of the deal for using the service.
Feed Wrangler trumps Google Reader with its modern approach to RSS. Rather than treating the platform like yet another inbox (We all love email, right?) with posts being pushed to you constantly, Feed Wrangler offers the necessary tools to ‘wrangle’ your RSS collection into control with a simple, useful interface.
The useful implementation of 1Password on the login screen made a great impression when I first launched Feed Wrangler. If you save a username and password in 1Password labeled ‘feedwrangler’, this button allows you to log in with a single tap of the 1Password icon.
Importing your RSS collection from Google Reader could not be easier. Simply entering your Google credentials allows you to import your entire Google Reader RSS collection without having to rebuild your entire library.
You can also add individual feeds if you prefer to reset your mangled collection of feeds and start fresh.
Feed Wrangler has a web interface primarily for managing your feeds from the desktop, but you can also use this to catch up on your feeds when you are away from iOS.
Feeds are organized into four main categories: Unread, All Feeds, Starred, and Smart Streams.
Unread features new posts in a list view showing the site title, headline, and a snippet of content if it fits.
This list features Apple’s new pull-to-refresh animation (taken from Loren Brichter), which is nice, but the magic is behind the “Wrangle” button, which when activated allows you to ‘star’ or mark individual entries as read. This view also features a Mark All Read button if you need to reset the number of new entries.
Each article features Apple’s native iOS share sheets. Sharing to Twitter or Facebook and Messages or Mail is built right in.
Although you can tap any headline to view the original article in Feed Wrangler’s built-in browser, a simple Open in Safari button is missing. Instead, you can use the Copy button to grab the URL and paste it in Safari.
Additionally, tapping and holding on a headline when reading an article allows you to add it to Safari’s Reading List.
Smart Streams, for me, really make Feed Wrangler a beautiful app and powerful service. Creating a Smart Feed is very similar to setting up a Smart Playlist in iTunes.
A Smart Stream allows you to set up a custom feed based on search terms and which feeds you choose. For example, you could set up a Smart Stream for ‘Earnings’ and limit the feed to 9to5Mac and Business Insider, creating a virtual feed of exactly what you want to read.
Traditional browsing based on a particular feed or all unread is certainly useful, but Smart Streams is invaluable for any fan of RSS.
Right down to its icon, Feed Wrangler’s design meets a brilliant medium between simplicity and polish. Personally, I’m a huge fan of its cardinal blue coat of paint and modern font choices.
Google’s announcement that it was throwing Reader out with its dirty laundry certainly caught me off guard. But I believe we are better for it with new services like Feed Wrangler demonstrating what a modern RSS should offer.
Just today, David Smith announced that he is currently working on a native Mac app, which is great as Feed Wrangler relies on its own syncing solution.
Feed Wrangler is a free app with an in-app purchase based annual subscription of $18.99. Personally, I check my RSS feed anywhere from 10 to 20 times per day, and supporting a service for less than a latte a month to ensure it isn’t pulled out from under my feet is a great feeling.
I highly recommend trying David Smith’s Feed Wrangler today before Google officially pulls the plug on Reader in the coming weeks.