NetNewsWire has been around for a while. Before Google Reader, Flipboard or Apple News, many users who wanted to subscribe to updates from a website used RSS software. NetNewsWire was the RSS reader of choice for many Mac users, but after two acquisitions and the rise of online RSS readers, the program fell by the wayside.
But now NetNewsWire is back, with a new version released by Seattle-based Black Pixel last month for iOS and Mac, including a cloud syncing engine to keep you up to date anywhere.
The new apps bring a clean, modern look to the desktop and phone, with sections for unread and bookmarked articles, favorite sites and a “today” view for catching up with everything that’s been published during the day. And since NetNewsWire is built only for Apple devices, both apps feature tight integration with Apple’s intended gestures and functions.
The universal iOS app is pretty great for getting through your news on the go. Simple gestures let you quickly mark stories as read, bookmark for later, or share. My favorite feature is the way you can scroll between stories. Instead of going left and right, which many apps use to switch between stories and I often activate on accident, you just long-drag up or down. With a small stickiness to the end of each article, you don’t have to worry about scrolling too far, either.
The desktop app is even more at home in the Apple ecosystem. The new NetNewsWire brings the familiar icons you’re used to in native Mac apps to your RSS feed. It really looks like a native app. And with Black Pixel’s syncing engine, it’ll always match what you see on your iPhone.
With Facebook bringing an outsized portion of eyeballs to websites, and Twitter filling another big chunk of traffic, an RSS reader might not seem like an important app. But if you really want to read everything a website publishes (or at least every headline), an RSS reader is still the easiest way to do it. However, finding the RSS feed can be a little difficult.
The classic RSS button has largely been replaced with Like and Follow buttons. But NetNewsWire will find them for you; all you have to do is punch in the homepage address. And if you’re at a loss for which sites to follow, a Popular tab shows you all the best sites across a number of interests, including tech, science and sports.
NetNewsWire returned with version 4.0 last month—after nearly two years in beta—to a bunch of fanfare among the hardcore Apple blogs. Some were disappointed that Black Pixel stripped out some of the more professional features like Apple Script support and smart folders, while others were just glad an older player was back in the game.
If you’re looking to keep up with all the news on all your Apple devices, NetNewsWire is a great way to do it. The iOS app is $7.99 and the Mac app is $19.99. While that might seem steep for an RSS reader, it does include the free syncing service and supports a strong developer committed to building top-quality apps.