The Readability bookmarking service was shut down on September 30. But Readability’s armchair icon can still be found in the Feedbin news aggregator. It’s what makes reading articles in Feedbin so simple and easy on the eye. Click on the armchair icon and you get to read the entire article from any website in a clear, easy-to-read format without having to go to the website itself.
I am not saying Feedbin is the best news aggregator. There are more powerful aggregators. But a Porsche is more powerful than a Toyota. That doesn’t mean everyone needs a Porsche. It’s the same with aggregators. How good or useful a news aggregator is depends on what you want to use it for.
Why use a news aggregator?
A news aggregator, also called a news reader, RSS reader, feed reader, feed aggregator, or simply aggregator, is a website or an app which compiles articles, videos and podcasts from various websites so you can see them all in one place. So instead of having to check the BBC and CNN websites separately, you could check them both in a news aggregator. To read the entire article, you may still have to visit the BBC or CNN website, but the aggregator will give you at least the headline and the summary and a link to the complete article.
News aggregators are useful because they
- give you a news roundup,
- provide the news or information that you want (you can choose what kind of news you want – politics, business, sports, etc – and from which sources – BBC, CNN, etc),
- save the news till you read it. Stories tend to get buried in quickly updated websites like the BBC, but they will stay in your news reader.
News aggregators come in various forms these days. For example, News Republic delivers breaking news on the phone from various sources. SmartNews delivers news on the phone that can be read offline.
Flipboard presents content on phones, tablets and online in a beautiful magazine format. You can create your own Flipboard magazines, compiling, say, articles on travel in one magazine, and those on music in another. You can make your magazines private or public.
There are other powerful news aggregators.
Feedly and Inoreader not only bring you stories, videos and podcasts from blogs and websites of your choice. They will also give you news and information based on any keyword you choose. Say you are interested in the singer Bob Dylan. Feedly and Inoreader will give you all the information on Bob Dylan from Google News.
You can even read newsletters on the news aggregator, NewsBlur. Why should anyone forward newsletters to a news aggregator? To keep the inbox clean!
News aggregators: Views and differences
Flipboard, Feedly, Feedbin, Inoreader and NewsBlur can be read on the World Wide Web as well as on apps made for phones and tablets. Feedly, Inoreader and NewsBlur are available as standalone apps and can also be accessed through third-party apps. Flipboard is available as a standalone app and Feedbin on third-party apps.
So, there are many things news aggregators can do. NewsBlur, for example, offers four different views: The “original” view showing the entire original website, the “feed” view showing the plain RSS feed from the website, the “text” view showing the text of the article, and the “story” view, showing the story as presented on the website.
Feedly and Inoreader also offer a choice of views. You can see the stories first as headlines only or as pictures accompanied by short summaries as in a magazine or a card in Feedly. You have the same choice in Inoreader.
Feedly and Inoreader also let you read the whole story straight away. But there is one difference.
Websites like the BBC, CNN and the Guardian have only partial feeds. So, you can’t read their stories in full on Feedly. After a point, you must click on a link that takes you to the website where the story was published. So, if it’s a BBC story, you end up on the BBC website.
But one can read the entire story – even from a website with a partial feed like the BBC – on Inoreader and NewsBlur. On NewsBlur, one can read the entire story by switching to the “text” view. To read the whole story on Inoreader, you must click on a little cup icon. Clicking on the cup delivers what Inoreader calls “mobilized content”.
Feedbin does it even better. It delivers complete stories – even from websites with partial feeds like the BBC – in clear type that’s easy on the eye. Just click on the armchair Readability icon in Feedbin and you can read the whole story without eye strain. The type is smaller, more scrunched in the “text” view of NewsBlur and the “mobilized content” of Inoreader. Press and Reeder, the news reader apps for phones and tablets, also feature the Readability icon – and they are also easy to read.
Stories are easy to read in Feedbin, but it’s not as powerful as Feedly and Inoreader.
Inoreader calls itself “the content reader for power users who want to save time”. It has various features such as “active search”, “rules”, “filters” ostensibly to make it quicker and easier for you to get the information you want, but there’s a learning curve.
Feedly may not have as many features as Inoreader, but it is fast, powerful, well integrated with various other apps from Pocket to Evernote, Dropbox to WordPress (so is Inoreader) and there is no learning curve. It’s good from the get-go.