Use new RSS power tools to read your news feeds like the cool kids
In an era of social hyperconnectivity, even careful curators can find their Facebook and Twitter feeds bulging under the weight of trolls, clickbait artists and the occasional irate relative. Quality news sources are often left to muscle their way into view against an imperfect algorithm, all while new links are being discovered between depression and social media use.
One of the remedies can be a return to classic RSS, one of the internet's earlier feed-fetching technologies. A relative newcomer to RSS, Inoreader has some qualities that can help you Marie-Kondo your news feeds. With versions for both web and mobile, the app is available on iOS and Android, averaging 4.7 stars in the App Store and 4.3 stars on the Google Play Store, where more than 7,400 users have weighed in.
No more social squalor
Don't let RSS readers' retro status among media aggregators fool you. They're fast, flexible and most of your favorite news outlets still maintain RSS feeds. Most importantly, nearly anything can be turned into a feed these days, and the reader apps are more functional than ever.
With a customizable interface, tiered pricing to allow unlimited feeds and a third-party tool to create RSS feeds for pages that have none, Inoreader goes beyond the traditional news aggregators you may have been using a decade ago. It's a research tool, intelligence briefing portal and social media filtration system. Its range of automated task triggers and ability to chain multiple rules together while integrating with IFTTT turn Inoreader into a tool for news power users.
For those facing social media burnout, Inoreader can parse Twitter feeds, multireddits and Facebook pages into RSS items, filter out keywords, and combine them into a single social feed, neatly preserving pictures and most media. Why endure a constant stream of creepily accurate advertisements and the fevered rage-posts of former acquaintances when you can get the proverbial milk for free? Inoreader's pro-level options even provide a way to convert email to RSS, finally allowing you to unburden your inbox of all those unread newsletters. In a traditional RSS client, the trade-off in switching from social is the lack of message amplification. But optional settings in Inoreader allow you to broadcast feeds and follow others', creating the potential to develop a responsive audience who can subscribe to your channel and "like" your feeds in a less invasive environment than Facebook.
You can also collaborate with group feeds. And this social scalability makes it an ideal research assistant for teams, equipped with an intuitive tagging system to fine tune keyword-snaring functions.
Inoreader's primary competitor Feedly offers a suite of content-sharing options via its $18 monthly Teams package. Slack and Microsoft Team integration combine with shared boards, feeds, notes and highlights to offer a slicker interface than Inoreader for groups looking to minimize learning curves. Feedly also has a free option, but to get rid of ads, connect to IFTTT and increase the feed refresh rate, you can pay $5.41 monthly for the Pro package.
Inoreader's team-level pricing is as customizable as its features, topping out at $250 monthly for a team of 50 users with custom quotes available for larger teams. Inoreader's upgraded accounts begin at $20 annually for its Supporter package. Its Pro package is $4.99 monthly and comes with a maximum guaranteed refresh interval of 60 minutes.
The joy of privacy
While RSS readers don't remove all threats to internet browsing privacy, they can put some distance between you and most publishers' user-tracking capacity thanks to feed caching.
The downside? Without algorithms serving up analytically perfect suggestions, discovering new RSS feeds means actively seeking them out. While Inoreader and others are making strides in this arena via built-in search features, most face the same user on-boarding hurdles in 2019 as they did back in 2013.
For those looking to cut through social media noise without needing extensive customization, The Old Reader can do the trick. A throwback to Google Reader that enjoys a wide user base, The Old Reader presents the easiest and most familiar on-boarding experience among current readers while still offering an algorithm-free news experience.
But if trainable algorithms are your bag, NewsBlur is one solution to RSS clients' longstanding lack of content prioritization. Tiered pricing, a polished look on both desktop and mobile, and a friendly approach to third-party app integration make NewsBlur competitive.
Work with the space you have
While a growing number of social media feeds and advertisers are fighting for your attention, their websites and apps are fighting for your bandwidth. For a growing segment of mobile-only internet users -- especially for those caught in the ever-widening digital divide -- superfluous design elements, autoplay videos and pop-ups can push readers away from the news when mobile devices and connection speeds can't handle the excessive baggage. RSS clients cut down load times by stripping content down to naked text, often without sacrificing embedded media from players like SoundCloud and YouTube. Inoreader's aesthetic likewise lends itself to easier loading. This app isn't trying to babysit your attention span. The minimalist look is a callback to the mechanical feel of early web design, and reflects the no-nonsense purpose of RSS as a protocol.
And yeah, there's a dark mode.
If RSS is so great, where did it go?
In truth, RSS never went away. The shuttering of Google Reader represented what most considered the death knell of browser-based and desktop RSS readers in 2013. But diehard fans of the early-internet tech have continued their near-monthly calls for its return ever since.
It was during this RSS outcry that Inoreader first emerged to rave reviews, joining the ranks of its RSS alternative peers. Despite the fall of Google Reader and the shift toward news consumption via social media, RSS has also maintained something of a cult following, especially among tech enthusiasts and developers.
Why? Because it's the never-say-die dream of those who refuse to surrender to algorithms, siloed news sources and social media echo chambers. And because this form of news reading, as Kondo might say, still sparks joy.