Some time ago, shortly after Google Reader was launched, I made a choice to stick with desktop applications for reading RSS across multiple computers. It’s a choice I’ve stuck with for a couple of years now, and it’s a choice I’m beginning to doubt.
Let me start off by saying this: I’m a cross-OS person. I have to be. If I had my choice, I’d have nothing but the hottest and fastest Apple computers at home and at work, but, alas, that’s not going to happen. So I’m stuck using my PC at work, occasionally using the PC at home and mostly using my MacBook Pro.
The point of mentioning my cross-OS-ness is that, as a journalist and as a techie, I read RSS feeds throughout the day. I read them at work and at home, and until a few days ago, I kept everything in sync using NewsGator. It was a decent solution. I have NetNewsWire on my Mac and Feed Demon on my PC. It keeps my subscriptions in check and updates my read-unread status between work and home, so I don’t have to spend 10 minutes cleaning up the program at home to get at the new stuff.
But then, one day, I hap’d to click onto Google Reader again. I’m no slouch. I know all about Google Reader and was there to try it out when they first released the service (whenever that was). I tried it, thought it was cool, and yearned for my desktop application. So I never took Google Reader seriously.
I’m starting to now, though. Look at the benefits. Google Reader is, of course, cross-platform. All I need is Firefox or any other browser — though I’m not sure there actually are any other browsers for me anymore. Unlike NetNewsWire and its not-quite-perfect cousin Feed Demon, with Google Reader I can watch things like embedded videos right in the reader window. With the desktop apps, I have to open things in a browser window for that: one extra step.
In Firefox, I have all my easy sharing shortcuts and Twitter stuff set up and ready to go. Feed Demon and NetNewsWire are limited in this scope; usually I just end up picking cherry links to read from the program and opening them to read in Firefox. Google Reader eliminates that step.
On top of all that, Google Reader provides some pretty sweet stats, which, though useless to me now, may yet show their utility. It seems to me that Feed Demon provides great stats, NetNewsWire less so. I don’t really use the stats much, but the desktop apps do seem to provide more useful ones.
And yet, despite the seeming charms of Google Reader, I don’t really like the way it looks or feels. I know that’s a superficial thing, but it matters to me. I love NetNewsWire. I hate Feed Demon, but I use it because it syncs with NewsGator. (That hate is probably because, oh, everything in Windows looks awful on my crappy work monitor.) And I feel it’s good to get out of the browser from time to time, to remember that not everything needs to or should exist in the cloud.
So what would I like to see? I’d like to see NetNewsWire sync with Google Reader, plain and simple, though it doesn’t look like that’s ever going to happen.