Subpug: A Beautiful News Feed Reader

If you are a regular reader you should probably know about a major gripe of mine – lack of quality feed reader apps on the web like the ones available for iOS. While remaining loyal to Google Reader for the time being, I am constantly looking out for that one awesome web app that will make me jump a creaking ship.

As and when I find some hopefuls, I never miss a chance to take them for a spin and share the results with our community. Subpug brings all your favourite websites, blogs and news sources into one convenient place. It’s totally free and there’s no need to sign up. You don’t even need to give us your email address. So, is it the feed reader that’s gonna make me ditch the good old Reader?

Ease of Use

Overview

Overview

Subpug cannot be anymore easier to use. While their copy indicates at tiered subscriptions in the future, for now, you can get started with the app for free in a single click. As the first step towards setting up the basic package, you will have to choose a news bundle of your choice. You might have guessed it by now – the web app has put together a bunch of prominent blogs from the same category and call them bundles.

Accessing Bundles

Subpug condenses all the read-worthy topics into eleven different bundles. You can see the names of three blogs that are part of each bundle before adding it to your subscription, but there are many more related news sources available in each bundle.

List of Available Bundles

List of Available Bundles

The three listed blogs are by far the leaders in their respective categories, so you won’t be disappointed with your selection. However, an option to check the entire list beforehand would make for a helpful addition.

Reading Feeds

Help Wizard

Help Wizard

It looks like one can choose and read only one bundle at a time. No chance to mix and match those enlightening design tips with top ten best comedies from TV. That’s a deal breaker, atleast for me. A helpful overlay explains what all the tiny icons are for and the keyboard shortcuts that make reading effortless.

Feed View

Feed View

All the standard features of a feed reader – going back and forth, toggling views, marking all as read and refresh the bundle – are available at the top. The toolbar that hosts these options floats on the screen and you don’t have to scroll all the way up to do the deed. There is an unread counter with the window/tab name and you can choose to read all items or only the freshly published ones.

Sharing Options

Sharing Options

Social sharing options are available at the end of every post. Sharing across all popular social services are covered, but the icons are a bit too tiny.

Comment View

Comment View

Wherever available, comments for each post are displayed on the right pane. The implementation of this feature deserves a pat in the back. Comments are spread across a couple of sections and from the looks of it, the gravatars are displayed too (they too are tiny to look at).

Editing Subscriptions

Adding and Editing Subscriptions

Adding and Editing Subscriptions

Not a fan of bundles? You can build your own from scratch by selecting the blank bundle from the homepage. To make things more easier, Subpug allows extensive editing of existing bundles too. Add new feed URLs and edit delete existing ones as you please. Besides, the web app allows you to filter content from individual feeds by keywords that you specify!

You can import OPML files to bring the collection of feeds you have built over time to Subpug. While this isn’t the true Google Reader integration one is hoping for, it is a fix that works.

Final Thoughts

Subpug is off to a great start. The developers have ditched the idea of a web based news reader and the standard design that usually goes with it. Still, a lot of work needs to be done. The interface design is lean and succinct, but is more suited to read on a tablet browser rather than from the desktop. Major chunk of the screen real realestate remains empty and this needs to fixed ASAP.

Lack of an account to get going is a mixed bag. Yes, it saves time and energy. But it makes it all the more annoying to setup the app from scratch every time you clear the cookies. Not only are the custom settings lost, the selection of bundles are lost too. An email with a link to the bundle of choice works for now, but isn’t the ideal solution. And then there is always the need for integrating the Google Reader account. Fixing these for sure will work wonders for Subpug!

Share Your Thoughts!

How do you stay on top of your favorite blogs lately? Do you consider the lack of accounts at Subpug a convenience or a drawback?


Summary

Subpug brings all your favourite websites, blogs and news sources into one convenient place. It's totally free and there's no sign up. You don't even need to give us your email address.

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  • Anthony

    Deal breaker for me is the lack of folders. I have 82 subscriptions broken into folders: Comics, News, Entertainment, Design, etc.

    I need them that way to get my head into what I’m flipping through.

    And also the lack of account is also a big issue, if my feeds reset so I didn’t know what I read, we’re talking a big production to mark them read.

    • Rado

      I was just going to give it a try but saw your comment – lack of folder support is a deal breaker for me too. Tried to open the app anyway, just to see how it feels, the interface is nice but when I tried to open one of the bundles it was really slow. Stopped hanging at “Loading subscriptions 70%” so I clicked through to a specific feed, which stopped at 0%. I gave up after about half a minute.

  • Marius Stuparu

    I would be interested in an article about self-hosted feed readers. I am a Managing News user for a few years now, but I’m looking for alternatives, since the project hasn’t been developed after being sold to Phase 2 Technologies a year ago.

  • http://www.ileet.ch Noval Garaint

    The design looks pretty good if you compare it to google reader. But i would miss the folders and the mobile version..

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