RSS isn’t dead. While there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth after the demise of Google Reader, the technology lives on. It’s thriving with Feedly, Digg, and other robust reading services that put all your feeds in one place.
For the uninitiated, RSS (short for Rich Site Summary, RDF Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication—three versions of the same thing) is a standard format for how websites publish indexes of their content. When you subscribe to a site’s feed with an RSS reader, you can get summaries or whole articles of what’s published.
RSS was built to help you keep up with your favorite sites without opening 50 tabs in your browser to visit 50 different home pages. It's especially useful on mobile, where you can condense a list of updates of your favorite sites into a space-saving list instead of jumping around all over the web.
So here are the best choices for the next time you want to catch up on the news while standing in line or lounging on the couch.
The best: Feedly
Feedly has replaced the now-defunct Google Reader in the minds of many as the king of RSS. Not only is the Feedly app popular, but you can use a Feedly account to get your news through other apps, too. This fixes the main problem with the demise of Google Reader - many third-party apps could just connect to your Google account and grab all your feeds. Now they do the same with Feedly.
Feedly uses an elegant method for sharing articles with other services like Pocket, Instapaper, Evernote, and many others. Chances are if there’s an app you use for saving content, it’s there.
Also, just as on the desktop version, you can organize your subscriptions into folders or add new sites you want to follow.
The app and service are free, though Feedly offers a premium version for $45 per year that enables search and integrates with IFTTT, Buffer, and multiple other sharing services. The free version will probably suffice for day-to-day use, but power users or publishers may be tempted by the upgrade.
Best design: Press
Press really impresses with its design, as it really gets the app out of the way so you can focus on reading. Also, where Feedly has seemingly thrown in the kitchen sink with features, Press takes the minimalist path.
Not that you don’t have choices; you can go light or heavy on the images, choose how frequently it syncs up with your feeds, or tweak the widget style. To sign in, you can use RSS feed providers Feedly, Feed Wrangler, Feedbin, or Fever.
Press connects to Android’s native sharing option, which brings up the useful but inelegant list of apps to send your content to. You can hide the system UI while reading or use swipes and gestures for navigation. It has lots of little tweaks and adjustments wrapped inside an understated package.
The only caveat here is the last update was in January, which sometimes isn’t a good sign of an app’s long-term prospects. Yet I’ve used it for a while with very few issues, so you shouldn’t have any trouble.
Best widget: Digg
Popular news site Digg was one of the first to build its own reader when Google Reader gave up the ghost last year. Digg’s Android app looks great and syncs with your Digg account, so it’s an ideal combo if you use it for feeds on the desktop and want to connect to them via your phone or tablet.
It also integrates with other Digg services, showing articles that you “Digg” along with a curated list of top stories and news that is popular with the community.
It has the best-looking widget of the batch (pictured in the main image), with stacked cards of articles that you can swipe through to find interesting content. Just tap on one of the cards and it will open in the Digg app.
Best retro design: gReader Pro
If you miss the simple look of Google Reader, then check out gReader Pro. The $5 app kills the ads from the free version, which you may want to grab to give a trial run. It’s not much of a looker, but it has some good choices for sorting your feed and finding other news feeds and podcasts.
It has an interesting section where you can search for news by a particular country, then hone down to specific regions or topics from that nation. So if you want to follow entertainment news in Tanzania, gReader may be the best bet.