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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

NetNewsWire 5 for iOS arrives as public beta

NetNewsWire app on iPad

NetNewsWire, the venerable RSS reader that returned to original creator Brent Simmons in 2018 to be revived as an open-source project that was released for the Mac in August, is now in public beta testing on iOS.

I’ve been using it this week on my iPhone and iPad, and it’s really good. (Simmons is collaborating with Maurice Parker, Kiel Gillard, Nate Weaver, Ryan Dotson [who wrote the help book], and icon designer extraordinaire Brad Ellis for this iOS version.) There’s a familiar feed-reading interface and a new Reader view, and the whole thing feels simple and functional and fast. On the iPad, NetNewsWire uses the same keyboard shortcuts as the Mac version.

The app has support for both Feedly and Feedbin sync services, and you can also keep your subscriptions just on your device if you want. Simmons has also announced a bit of a roadmap for 2020 for the project, including shipping a 5.0 version of the iOS app early in 2020, releasing a few Mac updates, and possibly offering feed syncing via iCloud.

That’s a great one, because while I have used a lot of RSS reader apps, I’ve never felt that the RSS syncing services fit me. (I don’t really want or need access to a web-based middleman.) I’d rather just keep NetNewsWire on all my devices and let iCloud sync my subscriptions and read states.

This is a beta of an entirely new version, of course, so there will be bugs (though I didn’t encounter any) and there are still plenty of features to be added. Among other items on Simmons’s list: custom fonts, user-created smart feeds, and a triage/queueing system.

There are several other RSS reader apps out there, most notably Reeder, which just won the MacStories Mac App of the Year award. What NetNewsWire has going for it is that it’s free and open source, has an interesting community of developers behind it, and is guided by someone has spent more time thinking about RSS than just about anyone else on the planet.

You can sign up for the NetNewsWire 5 for iOS beta via TestFlight, and NetNewsWire 5.0.3 for Mac is available now.

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