It's the Reading Experience

I have been a big fan of Reeder on all my platforms for a long time now. The app is rock-solid and gets updated on a constant, albeit sometimes slow pace.

I use Reeder every single day, it is easily one of the most-frequently apps I have used in the last several years.

This makes it very hard for competitors to even come close to the experience I get from Reeder. And still, from time to time, I’ll try one to see how it works out.

On iOS, The most prominent candidate in this category is Unread. Unread is an app that’s highly polished with respect to the appearance and also the user interaction, which boils down to fluid sequences of swipes that seem very natural and appealing.

One aspect, however, drives me away from Unread every single time I give it a try. The app has a limited preset of font sizes between wich you can select. Personally1, I prefer the lower end of the font size but unfortunately the difference between the smallest font (“atomic”) and the second-smallest (“tiny”) is uncomfortably big.

This means that “tiny” is way to large for my preferences and “atomic” is way too small. That really kills it. Undeniably, a lot of thought went into the design of Unread but the reading experience, which is essentially the point if the app, fails to deliver the same amount of polish. It’s tragic.

Reeder, on the other hand, may overall not be as pretty as Unread with respect to the app design. But boy, does it rule when it comes to customizing the article view, which is arguably the part of the app that is used the most.

You can not only control the font size, but also the font face and the density of lines of text. There’s really not much room for improvement left.

This strange relation between Reeder and Unread is mirrored by two other apps that address a very similar prominence for my personal app portfolio: read later services.

I guess it is safe to say that the two major apps in this domain are Pocket and Instapaper.

Frankly, only one of the two mentioned apps/services, Instapaper, delivers a reading experience that is on par2 with Reeder.

Nevertheless, both Pocket and Unread have a fan base of considerable size. Even though this seems weird to me there are certainly reasons. And furthermore: a lot of products arguably fail to deliver on their supposed core competency, but are still quite successful in their respective domain.

Cars, TVs, headphones, you name it.

  1. despite the need to wear glasses

  2. if not even more advanced