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RSS feed readers have not just made a comeback, but completely reinvented themselves.
The readers available today have nothing in common with the good old days of Google Reader. You have so many choices and so many features at your disposal.
What is RSS?
RSS has been out of the limelight for some time, so you might know what it is. If that’s the case, here is the refresher course.
RSS is an abbreviation of Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. It’s an online protocol that’s been around since 1999, but reached its peak in popularity between 2002 and 2006. An RSS feed is a web feed, which can be accessed by users and applications to receive updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format.
RSS formats use a generic XML file and feature only the most important parts of a post like full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and author’s name. RSS feed readers can read multiple RSS feeds and display new updates together in chronological order.
How does it work?
RSS feed readers are intuitive to use and there is no learning curve. Find and add the RSS feeds of all the sites you love to your RSS reader, and just wait for new updates. RSS readers are synced to each feed and pull new posts as soon as they’re published.
Although RSS was used primarily for news sites, blogs and forums, today RSS readers work with podcasts, newsletters, video platforms and social media channels.
What are the latest updates?
I will be looking at one specific RSS feed reader – Inoreader – to give you ample examples as to what current capabilities RSS readers demonstrate. Of course, different RSS feed readers have sets of different features that give different performances.
It entirely depends on what you require from your RSS reader.
Perhaps the most useful feature I can see is the addition of the Chrome extension. Many prefer to use RSS feed readers as mobile applications, but the browser version is not to be underestimated at all. Through the Chrome extension, users can preview new updates and the number of unread articles. The extension offers minimal distractions while you’re on another tab.
Perhaps most useful is the subscription feature. It’s been hard to subscribe to RSS feeds since sites don’t leave RSS feed buttons out anymore and RSS support is not as frequent as it used to be. The Chrome extension bypasses all the other steps to find, if a site has an RSS feed, and detects a feed immediately. Subscribing is then as easy as a click.
Read the web in your language
Automated translation has been slowly introduced. Google Chrome has developed a good tool to translate foreign languages into English.
Inoreader has taken that idea and developed it beyond the English language. It’s quite suitable for when you need information, but the language barrier is too high to surmount. The translation is done automatically and within the application. You don’t have to lead Inoreader to understand the latest news from China for instance, because the reporting will be translated immediately.
The way that this works is simple. Once you activate this feature, Inoreader will detect if articles are written in a language different than the language of your user interface and then translate them to that language.
RSS feed readers have long been limited by a user’s access to the Internet. With their jump to the mobile market, they can still work in most environments as long as there’s cell service.
But there are still those instances where an Internet connection is simply not available. Inoreader has created the Offline Folders. This feature does not extend to your entire profile because of the high demands on CPU, battery and storage usage. You can choose to enable offline mode for just certain folders, which then synchronize. This is very similar to how you have to download certain playlists on Spotify to keep your music offline.
Today’s news folder
Because Inoreader can keep hundreds of unread articles, it can become a little bit overwhelming to keep up with all your reading. The growing numbers of unread articles and posts can become daunting, so now pro plans have a cool new way to manage unread articles.
Today’s news folder keeps all incoming unread articles for a specific duration of time. You’re in charge of the time period they remain and once they grow older than say 7 days, the folder deletes them. This way you remain with only the freshest updates. This feature is especially useful for the feeds that get updated a bit too frequently.
Secure image proxy
Inoreader is committed to users’ security. Secure Image Proxy is another step in that direction as it eliminates one of the few vulnerability spots regarding personal data leaks – tracking pixels from image recall. What Secure Image Proxy does is create a barrier between you and the original source as the image requests are solely directed to Inoreader’s servers. Your browser will never be shown to the origin of the image. The creation of these features is in line with the general trend towards the preservation of privacy in online spaces through tools like VPN.
The secure HTTPS connection to Inoreader will also prevent any connectivity issues associated with weak Internet connections and trying to load large files. In essence this means that no matter what your Internet access is, Inoreader will get the job done.
Many more to come
I’m ending the article on an open page.
The main advantage of RSS feed readers is that they continue to change. Teams continue to work on new features to improve the overall experience. It’s always best to return every once in a while to your feed reader’s blog and check out what they’ve been working on all this time.