Developer: nibiruTech, LTD.
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 2.4.2

Controls Rating: ★★★★★
iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★★
User Interface Rating: ★★★★★
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

I remember when I was first introduced to the Internets. Although my feeble mind struggled to understand the dynamics behind “interneticism,” my ignorance never stopped me from surfing the web daily, meandering my way along the information super highway, ignoring all exits, save for an eyeball break.

Eventually, I developed a list of “Favorites,” i.e. websites I visited daily. As time went on, this list continued to grow and the subsequent result was that I had accumulated so many “Favorites,” I was struggling to find the time to visit them daily/regularly. In addition, many of these sites contain ads that would make Benny Hill blush. The last thing I want to have to do is explain to my 11-year old son what “bedroom adventure gear” actually is and why, despite his penchant for adventure, he can’t have any.

Then, I had an idea to develop software that would allow it’s users to, instead of visiting each and every one of their favorite websites, essentially have the website deliver its content to them, allowing the user to use one program to view all of the updated content from their favorite websites conveniently and efficiently. I planned to call my new invention Totally Simple Stuff, or TSS, but alas, someone beat me to the punch…

Anyway, I was eventually introduced to RSS Feed Readers/Aggregators. A Feed Reader/Aggregator is a website or software application (in this case, an app, MobileRSS Pro) which allows it’s users to, instead of visiting each and every one of their favorite websites, essentially have the website deliver its content to them, allowing the user to use one program to view all of the updated content from their favorite websites conveniently and efficiently.

While there are a number of readers in the app store, this review focuses on MobileRSS Pro ($4.99) and subsequently, it’s “sister” readers, MobileRSS ($2.99) and MobileRSS Free:

photo22

All three advertise the following features:

  • The ability to sync with Google Reader (Subscriptions, Folders, Tags, Unread count, All items, Read items, Kept unread items, Starred items, Shared items, Notes, Comments).
  • Support for “Show all / New items” in settings.
  • Offline marking item as read, starred, shared, keep unread. Ability to change feed’s folder(s) while offline.
  • Share items by Email, Twitter, Facebook, ReadItLater, Instapaper and Delicious.
  • Mark these / all items as read.
  • Favicon displaying (website generated icons displayed adjacent to feeds)
  • Store items list when you’re offline, including embedded images.
  • Save images into Photos Album.
  • Share with notes.
  • Landscape screen mode with rotation lock.
  • Swipe right on item list to show in-place menu.
  • Hide / Show “Home” and “Sharing” sections.
  • Restore the state of exit upon startup.
  • Keep items unread.
  • Subscribe to feeds which are shared by your friends.
  • Support for “People you follow” and “Comment View.”
  • One tap to download all items.
  • The difference between the three is MobileRSS Free is full featured, but ad-supported and does not feature “Search and Subscribe,” which allows users to find and subscribe to new feeds using the app.

    MobileRSS is $2.99, while MobileRSS Pro is $4.99. The $2.99 version has no ads, but also lacks “Search and Subscribe.” MobileRSS Pro, the $4.99 version, contains “Search and Subscribe” and ads are removed.

    All three apps do require a Google account (free). A Google Reader account (also free) is not necessary, but I would suggest registering for one if you haven’t already done so.

    MobileRSS Pro’s feature-set is rich and impressive, especially given the amount of data it’s manipulating. In addition to the above, you can shake your iPhone while in “Article View” for a more comfortable, full-screen view. You can also custom-sort the Feed list by alphabetical order or drag and drop to your desired location.

    The app’s main menu interface is clean, linear and user-friendly:

    photo37

    Feed category folders on the main screen are named and organized by the user. Additional folders/feeds can be added by using the “+” icon.

    The “+” icon allows you to add new feeds, while the “Edit” icon allows you to show/hide and/or delete feed folders/feeds. The “Refresh/Synch” icon is located at the bottom left and the “Settings” icon is in the lower right. The “Settings” icon allows you to change the theme (there are two options: “Default” and “Black”), and adjust such options as “Items Per Page,” “Font Size,” “Sort Feed,” etc. The main screen also gives you the option of showing only updated feeds or all of them.

    As shown above, I have several categories; one of which is “News.” I have 12 individual, custom news feeds, many of which have their own iPhone “News” app. Using MobileRSS Pro allows me to receive news from these sources/agencies, while freeing precious real estate on my home/page screens.

    Once you enter a feed category folder, that folder’s feeds are listed in alphabetical order:

    photo40

    You can then tap any feed to view its articles. Tapping the “I” icon gives the user the options to edit the article’s feed. Unread articles are represented with a round dot:

    photo41

    Tapping any article brings you to the article viewing screen. In article view, the article’s number/sequence, title, date and author are listed on the header pane. Users can scroll through articles using the arrows above the pane, or they can shake the iPhone to activate the optional full-screen viewing mode (pressing the center icon returns the article to default view):

    photo44

    Users also have the option of viewing in landscape or portrait mode. Once the preferred orientation is selected, users can “lock” the screen in that orientation by simply tapping the on-screen icon.

    From the default article view screen, users can forward to the article’s webpage (in Safari) by (tapping the arrow in the white circle on the title pane), add notes to the article (using the square icon with the pencil), mark the article as “unread” (box icon), mark the article as a favorite/for future reference (star icon), mark the article for sharing (sound icon), or you can apply/use the following options (arrow icon):

    photo46

    Users can also bring up the above options by “right-swiping” on the unopened article. They also have the option of marking all articles or only specific articles, as read/not read.

    If feeds are added or removed from the app, changes will automatically synch with the user’s Google Reader account (and visa-versa).

    The only flaws I can find in the app are that, unlike its desktop counterpart, it contains no search feature and not all feeds/articles allow me to save images to my Photo Library. Sometimes, feed images don’t load at all. Also, I have had the app crash on me, but it’s only happened 3-4 times over the span of several months.

    All said, MobileRSS Pro (for Google RSS Reader) is a well-developed, feature-rich feed reader for the iPhone. I spend most of my time using it, instead of my desktop Reader. This app (as well as its “sister-versions”) is a quality, reliable, feature-rich feed reader. If you use Google Reader (or not) and are looking for a reader app, MobileRSS Pro is well worth its price. At the least, I suggest you download the free version, MobileRSS Free and give it a whirl.

    Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, News, Reviews

    Tagged with: , , , , , ,