I’ve been using Brent Simmons’s NetNewsWire for the Mac for just about as long as I’ve been publishing Daring Fireball. The iPhone version is one of the apps I’ve been most anticipating, ever since the iPhone shipped a year ago. It doesn’t disappoint, but it’s far from perfect. On the plus side, I’ve found it to be far superior to any web-based feed reading option for the iPhone. And, because it’s backed by your (free) NewsGator account, it syncs your subscriptions and read/unread status with the Mac version of NetNewsWire (as well as other NewsGator clients like FeedDemon for Windows).
But synching has its downsides. The main one for me is that I have a lot of feed subscriptions in NetNewsWire — and most of them are things I have no interest in reading from my iPhone. What I’d prefer is to have the option of synching just a subset of my feed subscriptions through NewsGator — just the ones I’m interested in the most.
My other complaint is the built-in web browser. In theory it’s a lot like Twitterrific’s — when you tap a link while reading a feed item, NetNewsWire displays the web page in a built-in browser, so that you don’t have to quit NetNewsWire to switch to Safari every time you follow a link from a feed. But unlike Twitterrific’s, NetNewsWire’s browser replaces the current item view, rather than appearing on top of it. When you go “back”, you go back to the list of feed items, not to the item you were reading. This makes it a pain to follow multiple links from the same feed item: tap link, read web page, back to the list, tap the same item again, tap the next link.
Those complaints aside, in the week or so that I’ve been using it, NetNewsWire for the iPhone has proven to be very satisfying for “standing in line at the grocery store, wish I had something good to read for a minute or two” situations. And don’t miss the Clippings feature — tap the “+” button to add any item to your NewsGator “clippings”, which sync across clients just like your subscriptions do. A perfect feature for flagging items you want to come back to on your Mac.
★ Thursday, 10 July 2008