Inoreader is the ideal solution for most users. Particularly those that don’t want to spend too much time fiddling with configurations and preferences to set up a reader. Just download, install, add some feeds (manually or by importing subscriptions from a file) and you’re ready to go. Simple to use without sacrificing features, it offers all the key functions (with no annoying handicaps) with its free version along with extra customization and search features in the subscription version.
Easiest to use interface
All the feeds are easily accessible, allowing for a quick access to the most relevant articles, thanks to the interface’s design: minimal and free of distracting, unnecessary elements. The subscriptions are easy to organize, making sure you won’t waste time as soon as the feeds start coming in.
A powerful rules system allows for nuanced filtering and sorting of feeds
Inoreader features an interesting rules creation option that give users the power to automate what happens to their feeds, bringing the advantages of time saving and automatic content filtering/sorting. As most things in Inoreader, the interface for creating rules is very self-explanatory and easy to use. Examples of rules include setting a tag for articles that mention a specific topic, or getting an email about a new article if it includes a video.
Some features are blocked in the free version
While Inoreader has advanced customization and search features, these are blocked or limited in the free version. This is the tradeoff for having no hindered key functions, unlike other news readers, which typically limit the maximum amount of feeds in their free versions. It’s worth noting that the cheapest subscription plan is only $15/year.
Other things to note
Users can use Inoreader’s Dashboard and the metadata it displays to optimize future use. For example, it shows what feeds aren’t active any longer or have been failing, so they can be removed. Also note that, like other news readers, Inoreader’s databases have a permanent technical limit that automatically marks articles older than a month as read. Workarounds (for example, the rules or share functions) can be used if you want to keep these articles.
Inoreader is excellent. I love the pleasant, functional and no nonsense interface.The customisable settings are also very good. It’s much better than Feedly and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for after the end of Google Reader, since both have a very similar feel.
Best social experience
Flipboard is the reader that lets users aggregate updates from social networks alongside with content from news sources and other RSS Feeds. All this is aggregated into customizable Magazines, ready to be flipped through and shared, either directly on Flipboard or on social networks.
Social network feeds can be integrated into Flipboard
Users can connect many of their social networks accounts to Flipboard, such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, SoundCloud, YouTube, Flickr and 500px. This means all of their feeds can be linked to Flipboard. Facebook was also supported, up to March 2015, but it decided to limit sharing of its content outside their own platforms, eliminating integration with Flipboard.
Allows discovering stories based on topics, not just publications, via curated feeds called Magazines
Flipboard has millions of Magazines that anyone can follow, covering various subjects. Some cover general topics like home decoration, while others are immensely specific: for example, there’s one just about technological advances that extend human lifespan. All users can create their own Magazines and share them publicly, with friends, or keep them for private use.
Excellent on tablets
The way Magazines are built makes it especially enjoyable to use on tablets: their screen size and the possibility of swiping emulates the reading of a physical magazine, an experience most can relate to. Nevertheless, Flipboard is also available on several other platforms (web, desktop and mobile).
Free, but with unremovable ads
Flipboard doesn’t offer subscription plans, having only the completely free full version. However, it does feature ads that appear between articles and there’s no way of removing this function.
Other things to note
The social aspect of this reader is very strong, and that shows. For example, social network updates are mixed with the feeds from actual news sources. There’s the risk trivial social feeds will be featured over relevant news. Consequently, it only makes sense to choose this reader if one is planning on using its social features heavily. Otherwise, going for another reader is likely more satisfying.
One of the best apps I could possibly recommend for people who like to stay up-to-date with world events, Flipboard is what keeps me informed. With the bonus of also showing me what’s happening on my social networks accounts. And the Magazines where a pleasant surprise, I created one with several topics that interest me so I can have a collection of articles for later reading, when I have more time.
Best self-hosted reader
Tiny Tiny RSS
Tiny Tiny RSS is a free, open-source news reader. Unlike Inoreader or Flipboard, it needs to be installed on a web server and configured extensively before being used. It’s extremely versatile and customizable, allowing full control of both the service and the data it stores.
The main way to customize Tiny Tiny RSS is via functionality plugins. Some come with the basic installation, but many additional ones are available from third parties. Users can also change the way information is shown, create themes or skins using CSS or download ones created by the community. All this is possible because Tiny Tiny RSS is open-source--anyone can create modifications for it and publicly share them. You just have to look out for possible bugs and security issues with user-made content.
Provides complete control over the service and data
Since this reader is open-source and self-hosted, users can have full control of the service and its data when used on a private server. This means they don’t need to rely on a third party service that can be discontinued anytime. It also ensures the cost for using the reader will not increase and it protects user privacy by not giving up personal data.
Tech-savviness and patience required
Using Tiny Tiny RSS is not as simple as creating an account on another service. Merely completing the installation procedure will take at least a few hours. Main requirements include a physical server or a web host supporting PHP and MySQL. The know-how’s also needed, but there are several guides online that explain all the steps quite well. Anyone familiar with computers, even not being an expert, who is willing to spend some hours reading and learning should be able to set up this software.
Other things to note
Tiny Tiny RSS only officially supports its web platform and its Android client. There’s also an unofficial third party iOS client. However, given that it’s open-source, anyone who’s willing can try writing a client.
Great application, very useful to get information that really interests you, uninfluenced by unknown algorithms. I also appreciate the way it runs: very smooth and fast. On the downside, it’s not nearly as user friendly as most Proprietary alternatives. I also had some trouble setting it up, ran into some unexpected problems and took me a while to find a solution, but apart from that, it wasn’t difficult.
What others are saying
How they compare
Ease of use
- Installation of Inoreader is simple and straightforward, you just need to create an account, download and run. No configuration is needed, just manually adding feeds or importing them from an external file.
- The user interface is self explanatory, minimal and orderly, and ads are limited to free plan users. On its web platform, there aren’t ads in article content at all.
- Overall, Inoreader is very user-friendly, offering a pleasant experience for all types of users that just want to stay up-to-date with their feeds.
- Flipboard’s installation is just as easy as Inoreader’s: sign up, download, run, and that’s it. Configuration takes a little more effort, because of the time it takes to connect all your social networks. This is optional, but most users that go for this solution will want to take that step.
- The layout emulating physical magazines (and swiping) works very nicely and offers an interesting and polished experience.
Tiny Tiny RSS
- Tiny Tiny RSS is complex and time-consuming to install and configure. It can also be costly. The customization features also aren't especially straightforward, given that users need to hunt and install plugins themselves.
- The user interface may feel too technical and raw or even old and ugly. It does allow for an extremely efficient ad-free use though—just not in a very aesthetically pleasant way.
- Besides its web platform, Inoreader is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. There are also companion apps for several browsers, giving users several options for daily seamless transitions between devices, such as from a desktop PC to a mobile device.
- Inoreader also has offline support, meaning previously saved articles can be read even if no internet access is temporarily available.
- Flipboard is available on several platforms: web, macOS, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows (Phone, 8 & 10). Even Apple Watch is supported. There is no official support for Linux (apart from the web platform, of course), but an unofficial port exists.
- Flipboard integrates with tablets particularly well, given that their size, combined with the fact they have touch screens, makes the Magazines feature distinctively interesting to use on these devices.
Tiny Tiny RSS
- With official support only for the web platform and Android devices, Tiny Tiny RSS does quite poorly when it comes to being multi-platform. The only things that somewhat save this are the existence of an unofficial iOS clients and the fact that being open-source means third-party clients may emerge any day.
- Inoreader lets users choose between three views: list view, card view and expanded view. In any view, a “dark mode” is available, switching the display from predominantly white to predominantly black, increasing contrast and facilitating night reading.
- Article view offers several customization options, like font size and family, disabling images for text-only article reading or things as specific as showing or not an articles source and author below the title.
- Besides these options, Inoreader’s Dashboard is also customizable via gadgets and layout options. Extra Dashboards can be created, in case there’s a need for more than one, depending on context.
Tiny Tiny RSS
- Being open-source, customization is one of Tiny Tiny RSS’s strongest points. The way information coming from different sources is presented can be personalized via CSS tweaking. Alternatively, themes can be downloaded from the user community.
- The fact that Tiny Tiny RSS is customizable using CSS is not very user-friendly, since it requires users to either spend some time tweaking with their installation (if they know CSS) to get the desired result, or to trust other people’s unofficial themes, some of which can be buggy. In this aspect, Inoreader offers a better cost/benefit ratio, even if in absolute terms it is less customizable.
- Flipboard has very weak customization features: you can change article text size and go into fullscreen mode and that’s about it. This weakness becomes more apparent when compared to the other two.
- Existing feeds and articles can be organized into custom folders and marked with custom tags and new content is always being recommended to users. Inoreader also features an interesting content sharing feature called Bundles: they’re basically user-created agglomerates of sources that can be subscribed by other users, syncing new source additions to all of the Bundle’s subscribers.
- Rules enable automation of some aspects of content management, for example, automatically moving all articles containing a specific word into a folder.
- The Dashboard is central to content management, not only centralizing all the features mentioned above, but also showing use statistics and signalling inactive and failing feeds, so users can consider removing them.
Tiny Tiny RSS
- Tiny Tiny RSS supports custom tags and labels. It also supports custom folders, but there is very useful default Special folder with categories like Fresh Articles, Starred Articles and Recently Read.
- The content filtering tools in Tiny Tiny RSS works generally the same way rules work in Inoreader: they enable the user to set actions to be taken on content every time a preset condition is met on originating feeds. For example, automatically attribute scores to articles under certain conditions.
- There are some plugins that enhance content management options. One of them integrates Tiny Tiny RSS with Pocket, an application for marking/saving content for later reading, a feature that does not exist by default.
- Flipboard’s Magazines are its main medium of content management. The principle to apply is that each user can create (or follow) several Magazines with different content sources. So, in a way, this function can be used like folders are in Inoreader, but with more limitations.
- Topics can be followed, so that when new content with that topic appears, it is pushed into followers accounts. However, users have no control over which topis articles are tagged with.
- While the Magazine-centered philosophy of Flipboard has certain advantages, some users may feel the way it was implemented hinders content management. You may find yourself missing options that Inoreader offers.
Third-party service support
- Inoreader can pull feeds from some social networks: Twitter, Google+ and VK. It’s interesting to have this option for these three, but it’s still a shy list compared to Flipboard’s.
- Sharing content, on the other hand, is available for a long list of services: all the main ones plus some more obscure.
- There’s integration with the IFTTT service, which features several interesting widgets for Inoreader, like “A new random Wikipedia article everyday, into your Inoreader feed” or “Mark yesterday’s news as read”.
- Integration with social networks is Flipboard’s main advantage. Feeds can be pulled from a variety of social networks, such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, SoundCloud, YouTube, Flickr and 500px. Facebook was also previously supported, up to March 2015, but it decided to limit sharing of its content outside their own platforms, eliminating integration with Flipboard. All the usual social sharing options are available.
- Unfortunately, Flipboard does not have IFTTT support.
Tiny Tiny RSS
- Tiny Tiny RSS’s default social network integration is virtually non-existent, as is integration with other services like IFTTT or Pocket.
- The default absence of these features is, once again, balanced by the possibility of adding/creating plugins that add them. With these, it is currently possible to add integration with IFTTT, Pocket and several social networks.
- Flipboard is completely free. However, it should be noted it features unremovable ads.
- Inoreader’s free version doesn’t have many ads and doesn’t limit in any way the key functions, meaning many users will have no issue in permanently using this plan.
- The least expensive plan is $15/year and the most expensive one is $50/year.
- Functions that are limited in the free plan include rules, filters, active searches and Dashboard customization.
Tiny Tiny RSS
- Tiny Tiny RSS is completely free. However, there may be indirect costs in maintaining the server, whether it is physical or web-based.
What exactly are news readers?
News readers, also commonly known as news aggregators or feed aggregators/readers, are applications where content coming from several different sources is centralized. Users subscribe to sources (like online newspapers, blogs or podcasts) through the readers and every time new content appears, it is pushed across the network, allowing users to receive updates almost instantly and eliminating the need for users to individually check all the sites they want to be updated about.
What are feeds?
In basic terms, feeds are what links sources to readers. This is done through the use of web syndication technologies: once new content is made available on the source, subscriber programs are “fed” with it, hence the word feed. One of the most commonly used web syndication technologies is RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Another popular one is the Atom Syndication Format.
Can I subscribe to feeds from websites that use a paywall?
Many websites, notably online newspapers, use a paywall, meaning content is restricted for those that don’t have a paid subscription. If these websites use RSS feed technology, anyone can subscribe to those feeds, however it’s almost certain the full content will not be available through the feed. Nonetheless, those that have a paid subscription will be able to read the full content, as long as the source website recognizes they are logged in.