I’ve been using RSS news readers for quite a long time. And I’ve probably tried at least a dozen different pieces of software for this task. And like many folks these days, I eventually settled on Google Reader.
I did not, at first, think that I would like Reader. It’s not-very-pretty, in the typical Google fashion, and until you learn some keyboard shortcuts it can be a bit clunky. Given the choice between a desktop app and a web-based app, I’ll often prefer the native Mac OS X desktop app because it’s typically faster, better designed, and integrates well with the rest of my setup. But Reader has solved virtually all of those problems for me. And while I haven’t seen any numbers, it seems to me that it went from obscurity to market dominance with almost no fanfare at all.
There are many features in Reader that would be difficult or impossible with a desktop application. I can share articles with Kandace or other friends, find out what she recommends that I read, and of course it doesn’t matter what computer I’m at – everything stays in sync automatically. And I really like their Featured Reading Lists, which let you see what other prominent writers and thinkers are reading, and subscribe to them yourself.
Finally, it has a great iPhone interface. You can do pretty much everything with your iPhone, and they keep it simple and well-designed, not to mention that it stays in sync. I personally also use an iPhone app called Newsstand, which integrates perfectly with Reader and adds its own twist to the interface, but that’s just me. I’m a sucker for those cute iPhone apps.
If you read a lot on the web, I recommend giving Google Reader a try, if you haven’t already.