UPDATE: I have moved to a new app since writing this post. Details on my new best Google Reader app here.
I am a very heavy Google Reader user and am currently subscribed to over 600 feeds/blogs. Having the ability to keep up with this fire hose of great information when I am not at my desk is one of the primary functions of my iPad (and my iPhone before it).
I used several of the major reader apps – there are many – before I discovered NewsRack (iTunes link). This is currently the best Google Reader app available for the iPad and iPhone.
The interface is simple and easy to use. Once you have installed it, simply add your Google Reader account details and synchronise. NewsRack will pull down your feeds. Once you have read one, it will also update Google Reader – keeping your account completely in sync.
First – forget about the “news rack” screen – where the feeds appear as newspapers; I don’t like cover flow in iTunes and I don’t like it here either.. completely useless. Make sure you are working with the interface as folders. If you have more than a dozen RSS feeds, then you should really be categorising them into folders in Google Reader – it will save you loads of time and help you prioritise the topics you really must keep on top of.
The app works well in both Portrait mode and Landscape mode. Here’s how each mode looks:
Note also that I always select “Hide Read Feeds” (its at the bottom of the Feeds list) – I see no point in staring at a bunch of empty folders. So the app only shows me folders that have “unread” items in it.. much better.
You can select one folder at a time – if you want to prioritise your reading. Or you can select the entire “Unread” folder. Once you have done so, you can the headlines and source for each feed. Again – if you want to scan a large list of feeds, this is a great place to do it – without having to actually view specific blog(s).
The portrait mode allows you to read the items in your feed in full screen. You can navigate to the next blog by using the arrows at the top of the screen.
The landscape mode is similar to the native iPad email app and keeps the folders/items in a sidebar on the left hand side and displays the currently selected blog in a section on the right.
This is simple and effective. It does a great job of keeping in sync with your G Reader account and allows you to scan and/or read all the items in a very intuitive way.
The final area of this app which pretty much sealed it for me when I was trying others is with how great the social/sharing functionality is.
NewsRack allows you to share items/blogs with many of your social media accounts – email, Twitter, InstaPaper, ReaditLater, Delicous, and Facebook. You can customise these and only select the channels that you actually use.
I love the email function because it actually copies the contents of the blog into the body of the email. I hate having to send just the links to great stories to friends and colleagues.
I also like the Twitter functionality. Many other iPad apps create the tweet for you or populate it with self-promoting links (I’m looking at you Zite). This app displays a window and allows you to select the aspects of the blog you want to share – title, source, etc. Then allows you to add your own notes or modify the standard behavior before you submit it. Seems prettty basic but I am always surprised how few apps deliver it in this way.
So that’s my take on a great iPad / iPhone app for Google Reader. It has an excellent and intuitive user interface. Keeps you synchronised with your Google Reader account. And allows you to share what you find in a comprehensive way.