NetNewsWire for iPad Impressions

I bought NetNewsWire for iPad on launch weekend and I’ve been pretty satisfied with my purchase.  I saw there are quite a few negative reviews and I can see how the software isn’t for everyone (yet) – so here is my take on NNW at this point:


Simple, clean interface focused on your RSS content.

Syncs without a hitch with Google Reader.

Integrated Instapaper support.

Integrated web browser so navigating links within a feed item doesn’t take you out of the app.  (You can still open the link in Safari if you want though.)

When in portrait mode, the whole screen is the feed item with a small toolbar at the top with a few options (such as move to the next item).

Post the current item to Twitter or Email.

Support for marking items as “starred” in Google Reader.


It’s $10 – this wasn’t that much of a con for me, but I know $10 for an RSS reader is a bit high for some people.  (Maybe there will be a lite version of the iPad app soon…)

You must use Google Reader – you’ll need an account to sign in with when you startup NNW…without it, you get nada.

You can’t add/remove feeds from within NNW – I have my list pretty stable, so I don’t expect I’ll be needing this much, but if you like to change up your feeds

No Tumblr support – I’d like to be able to post an interesting item to Tumblr instead of Twitter.  

Minor bugs – the iTunes reviews make it sound like there are a ton of bugs, but there is only one bug/issue I’ve noticed so far.  The “show next” button doesn’t automatically enable itself until you click on an item (so when you download 30 new feed items, you’ll need to touch one to start off…then you can just “next” your way smoothly through them).

Not a universal iPhone/iPod/iPad app – it seems reasonable that this app would be a universal app since it should work largely the same on all Apple devices, but it looks like you’ll still need two apps if you want it on both types of devices.


For me, NetNewsWire works great.  Reading feed items is almost as nice as reading a page from a book in iBooks or Kindle.  I already manage all of my feeds via the Google Reader web interface, so I don’t mind some of the features being missing.  I do expect NNW will get plenty more features in the long run – all of the apps were rushed out the door for the iPad launch, so it’ll take a little time for them to get all of their features in.  If $10 is a bit too much for you or you want more features (at the expense of a bare bones, but serviceable UI), then NewsRack looks like a good choice at $5.  I think most people are going to be happier with NewsRack until NNW steps it up feature wise, but NNW works for me and I’ve really enjoyed using it.

iPad Thoughts

Don’t buy an iPad unless you plan on spending a good bit on apps up front…otherwise, you won’t be able to make the most of the device.

The keyboard is better than I would have expected when in landscape mode. I still like to attach the Apple Bluetooth keyboard if I want to type a lot – but the built-in keyboard certainly gets the job done. If you don’t type many numbers or special symbols, it’s possible to type at a really good clip.

Book reading is fantastic – both in iBooks and Kindle for iPad. iBooks is the prettier app in general. I love the Kindle background image though – it changes based on time of day. As expected, Kindle has a much larger selection. If I buy new books, I’m probably going to lean toward the Kindle for portability reasons. Importing ePub books into iBooks works fine and they look very nice – so I’ll still use it to read my books that are purchased outside of either store. If you need to read a PDF book, you’ll want to look at GoodReader (or other apps)…the PDF reading interface in GR isn’t as good as iBooks or Kindle, but the text is perfectly readable and it gets the job done.

Battery life is pretty fantastic – it looks like I can get 2 days of moderate use on a charge. Very happy.

The official Apple case is good, but overpriced. I got it because it has a mode to angle the iPad like a keyboard and it really does help. It also has a way to stand the iPad up so you can watch movies or make a virtual laptop (with the Bluetooth keyboard). I definitely prefer with a case to without it, but the case itself just doesn’t feel quite up to Apple quality construction wise. The seam around the outside is super large and annoying sometimes.

The screen collects tons of fingerprints – it cleans up quick and easy, but if you look at the screen on an angle or in bright light, then you’ll notice them quite a bit. I haven’t found them too distracting, but they are there.

This is the first iPhone OS product that I’ve really wanted multitasking on. It’s not a laptop replacement as a whole, but certain things are better than on a laptop/desktop..but it would be even better if multiple background apps could run.

The app store is a bit of a mess right now – Apple is actively changing it each day, but it’s still hard to find apps In the store without knowing the app name. It was far worse on Sat, but it’s still not quite there.

All in all, I’ve very happy with the purchase. I do still want a stylus though – I just can’t take notes with my fingers and the keyboard isn’t quite fast enough for me. If I have a Microsoft Courier plus an iPad, I think that will be everything I need for my mobile productivity. We’ll see – I’m excited to see what new apps come out in the next few months…some pretty amazing things are possible now, so it will be awesome to see them. And yes, this whole post was written on the virtual keyboard on the iPad…and it was a pleasant experience. 🙂