Apps for Fever RSS
I’ve been using Shaun Inman’s Fever reader for RSS since March 2012 , and have since then tried a variety (so far every) iOS and OSX app that has been released to support Fever. I blogged about the State of Play: Fever RSS and Apps on 18/4/2013.
Given that the Fever app market now seems to be taking off, I’ve created this page with a summary of my thoughts on the various apps for iOS and OSX. It is likely to be updated regularly.
For detailed information on Fever, and setting up a Fever installation, please see the original post State of Play: Fever RSS and Apps.
Ashes – iOS Universal (A$6.49)
A month or so back, the long dormant Twitter account for Ashes was revived and the Ashes website was updated with a coming soon screen. A limited beta program was soon launched for what started as an iPhone only app, but which quickly evolved to be a universal app for iOS devices. There is an App.net account for Ashes
I’ve been on the beta program for a week or so, primarily using Ashes on my iPad – I’ve played with the iPhone version but my major need is for iPad. I have to say the dev has been making giant strides towards ensuring this is a feature rich, stable offering. As of today (14 April 2013), the developer has stated that it Ashes is feature locked, and is being prepared for release
The UI is simply beautiful, and Ashes works nicely for me, in this iteration. There are some quirks, but the dev is working hard to iron these out prior to release. Ashes supports iOS native sharing with Facebook and Twitter, and also with apps like Tweetbot, Pocket and Instapaper. Integration with services like Pinboard, Delicious and Evernote seem to be missing at this time.
While Ashes looks great, and works well, the UX (user experience) is a little clunky. When updating, there is nothing moving (the little spinny thing) to let you know it’s updating. Granted there is text telling you that, but I think we’re all used to motion. Also, when you save something to a Pocket or Instapaper, it has an interuptive dialogue box popup to tell you it has been successful. You have to click it to get rid of it. Other apps (Reeder and Sunstroke) have banners at the top of the screen to provide confirmation, that disappear themselves after a few seconds, without interupting your flow.
I have to be honest and say I am also concerned that the developer might simply stop supporting the app. The original version was released at a high price point (A$7.49), and crashed consistently. It was unusable. The dev stopped supporting, and later pulled the app from the App Store.
For these reasons, I am reluctant to recommend Ashes.
Chill Pill – OSX (A$1.99)
Chill Pill can be set as the default client for RSS in OSX. So if you click on a RSS feed link in your browser of choice, Chill Pill will launch and allow you to subscribe to the feed.
Being a standalone app means that if Chill Pill goes “wonky” (perhaps as a result of a feed with strange data), it will crash just that app, and not your other browser windows. Some browsers give you that natively, others don’t, but Chill Pill makes it easy.
Other cool stuff includes supports for custom styles, multi-touch gestures, and a built in article viewer.
I miss having an app like Reeder for OSX, but until such an app supports Fever, Chill Pill is doing a good job for me, filling an important need.
Readkit – OSX
Reeder – iPhone (A$2.99)
Reeder was quickly my favourite Google Reader app for iPhone when it was released, and took a similar mantle for its iPad and OSX versions when they were released. Since Fever support was introduced in version 3 of Reeder for iPhone, it been my go-to app for reading RSS on iPhone. Reeder’s user interface is simple, but the usability (UX) of the app is outstanding.
Reeder for iPhone has native support for Hot items, but everything else (i.e. Kindling and Sparks) seems to be clustered together under Unread. That works well for me, as I don’t tend to separate Kindling from Sparks in my reading.
Reeder is fast to use, and of the current apps supports the widest variery of inbuilt sharing, read-later and social options, including email, Evernote, Pinboard, Delicious, App.net, Twitter, Pocket, Instapaper, Readability, Buffer, etc.
Reeder is certainly the most feature rich of the offerings in this list (as of this writing), but it is iPhone only and has a “functional” UI.
Sunstroke – iOS Universal (A$5.49)
Sunstroke has a great UI and an excellent UX. It is clean, visually pleasing and highly functional. It has full support for all Fever elements, including Hot, Kindling and Sparks, and has great integration with read later services such as Instapaper, Pocket and Readability, sharing services like Delicious and Pinboard and social media apps like Twitter, Facebook and Netbot.
In my original review of Fever apps, I wanted to make Sunstroke my recommendation for iPhone, but held back for two reasons.
- It crashed occasionally. The developer reached out to me, and got crash reports from me. Subsequent releases seem to have resolved the issues.
- At A$5.49 for iPhone only, I considered it an expensive app. Now that Sunstroke is universal, the price is reasonable. To be fair, given that Fever is a relatively niche part of the overall RSS market, itself a niche, the developer needs to be able to charge a fair price.
With these two issues resolved, and the excellent support for iPad a wonderful addition, Sunstroke is my go-to Fever app, and my firm recommendation for both iPhone and iOS. Sunstroke has the best UI, great functionality and a good UX. The developer is responsive (he is @atdrendel on App.net), and the app has been supported continuously since its initial release.
Web Access for Fever – All Platforms (included)
The Fever application includes a built in web browser allowing the user to access their feeds directly. There are two versions – one for standard browsers, and one for smartphone browsers like iPhone (see image at right).
The iPhone version is quite good, but has only basic functionality. There are no options for sharing, read-later or social services. I keep a link to it on my iPhone screen and occasionally use it to reset feeds or similar. If price was an issue for apps, you could certainly “get away with” the basic app.
The web browser for desktop devices works well on iPad. I can quickly scroll through feeds with an upwards swipe gesture. I can get access to sharding and read-later services as I would on a desktop, but the links to access them are small, and I mis-click 25% or more of the time.
I’d say the browser version is fine on the desktop, and good for fast scrolling on iPad.
I hope that I will soon be able to add to the above list. I have apps for my three major devices (iPhone, iPad and Mac), but look forward to greater competition in each category, hopefully spurring each other onto greater innovation.
As of this writing, my recommendations are:
- As of July 2013 I actually moved my main RSS service over to FeedWrangler. Whilst I like the self hosted aspect of Fever, the lack of ongoing priority of development by the developer is low, and new features are not being added. I still maintain a Fever service as an environment for some specialised feed management. ↩
- The iOS app has to be installed for the sharing option to be shown. ↩
- Reeder for iPhone v3 was released on 15/6/12 (10 months ago today). At the time, the developer stated that Fever and Readability support would be added to the iPad and OSX versions in their next major release. Those releases are still pending. ↩