Turning inner space into outer space

February 16, 2019

lire close to being perfect RSS feed reader for iPhone

RSS feeds are the best way to keep up with the news, and lire is the best way to wrangle them on your iPhone — with just one niggle.

It’s bizarre that anyone uses Facebook or Twitter for their news. Posts and tweets come in at random times chosen by an algorithm that is not explained to us. The sources of news might be reliable, but just as often they might be fake.

With RSS, you get to choose your news sources — everything from a local newspaper to a national TV network to a new site specializing in a topic. If you can’t can find the feed for a site, send them an email. I got a local paper to put one in that way.

There is only one thing bad about RSS feeds. Sometimes you only get a headline or a snippet of the story. If you want to read the whole thing, you have to go the site. All too often, this means having to wade through ads and trackers to get at the precious content.

Some feed readers have a third-party add-on that pulls in the story, but they can be slow and maybe not work at all.

When I found out that lire was a “full-feed” reader, I was intrigued. The description at the App Store promised I would never have to go to a website to read a story unless I wanted to.

The reviews were good, and I liked the fact that the price ($6.99 in Canada) is a one-time payment. There are no subscriptions to worry about, although you can add a “tip” later if you really like the app. I’ll probably give one myself.

After a few weeks of exploring lire, I was able to make it do pretty much anything I could think of. For example: it defaults to unread, the font is Helvetica Neue, the line-spacing is much looser, the background colour is muted, the margins are a little bigger.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it took me a few weeks.

The line-spacing was way too tight for my eyes, and I thought regularly about sending a suggestion the developer about adding a preference for it. Turns out that there are a bunch of typography-related preferences, but you have to go into an individual article to find them.

Even when I found them, I suspected that they would only work for that one article. They would much easier to discover if they were in with all the other preferences.

Which leads me to one last discovery that makes lire close to being perfect.

My feeds are divided into folders named for categories of news — regional, national, world and so forth. The default is to show all the subscriptions in the folder together, but I like the option of being able to read one subscription at a time. You can set a preference for this (again not easy to discover) but it’s a either-or situation. You can’t choose as you go along.

This is not a deal-breaker for me, and likely isn’t one for you either. So if you’re looking for a great RSS feed reader, go ahead and take a chance on lire.

PS: Could we please have a version for macOS?