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iPad for Marketing App Review: Reeder

August 23, 2011

Google Reader users love Reeder for iPad, a year-old RSS feed reader. It’s clearly designed for RSS feed junkies who want to browse through all the latest news and information on topics they care about. Reeder is not a glossy, pretty magazine-style app. But I don’t think that matters much to people looking for a cleanly designed RSS feed reader. Using Reeder for iPad – and its sister Reeder for iPhone – has easily saved me an hour a week. Reeder for iPad has attracted a loyal following and garnered 4.5 stars on iPad. Here are a few reasons why.

First, it exploits iPad usability to improve the news-grazing experience. Gizmodo got it right when it said, “Its biggest accomplishment is solving the simple problem of making it easy to move through news items.” In that regard, Reeder clearly caters to hardcore RSS feed enthusiasts like me.

Arrows on the sidebar are perfectly positioned to scroll quickly through articles (the summary appears on the left third of the screen, the highlighted article displays on the other two-thirds). If you tap the article, it takes you to the source. A back arrow at the top of the screen makes it easy to return to the article list, and sidebar icons let you quickly change what you view. You can choose to show only starred items, unread items, or all items. It’s easy to group articles by date or feed, and mark all as read.

Another reason people love Reeder is that it syncs with Google Reader quickly and seamlessly. On start-up, it took under 30 seconds for Reeder to grab all my Google Reader feeds. That initial grab complete, it now syncs in about a second. If you read an article in Reeder, it’s marked as read in Google Reader and vice versa. This seamless syncing means you can consume feeds much faster. Sure, you could read RSS feeds for free by visiting via the Safari web browser or by downloading Google’s free iPad and iPad reader apps. But many people are choosing to pay $4.99 for Reeder because its caching significantly speeds the experience, especially when you’re relying on a mobile phone data network. In fact, Reeder’s popularity consistently earns it a place on the “Top Paid iPad Apps” list in the news category. And that’s no small accomplishment for an app developed for the fastest growing computing platform.

Finally, Reeder does what all good RSS readers should do: it allows for easy sharing (Facebook, Twitter, email) and bookmarking (Instapaper, Delicious, ReadItLater, Pinboard, Zootool). It takes just a few clicks to share an article virtually any way you want. 

If you’re a digital marketer, you can’t afford to ignore the proliferation of apps such as Reeder. Prospective and existing customers looking for information and news about your company will increasingly expect to access it any way they want, including from their iPads. And because more and more apps are publishing RSS content, it can insure you against device and app lock-in. You don’t have to develop content for a specific device or app; but rather provide content in the RSS format that many of the new apps utilize. Why not let the apps do the heavy lifting?

The Final Verdict

The reader experience: A-. It’s not beautiful, but it is clean and easy. RSS feed enthusiasts will appreciate how simple it is to navigate.

The publisher experience: B+. If you have an RSS feed, your customers can access it on Reeder by adding it to Google Reader. To boost its grade, Reeder would need to let users search for and add feeds directly from the app, instead of forcing them to do it through Google Reader.


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