It’s pretty much considered common knowledge that most people just don’t get RSS, and that people would rather follow your site on Twitter or Facebook, add you to an app like Flipboard, or just visit your homepage for updates. Email newsletters, people get, but not RSS. Now, RSS can’t be too complicated, seeing as thousands of you follow this site via RSS, but most RSS readers – even Google Reader – make it too complicated.
If Skimr had always been around, though, perhaps complicated and confusing wouldn’t be the first thing people think of when they hear of RSS. Skimr is a beautifully simple new online RSS reader that makes it simple to browse the headlines from your favorite sites without feeling like you’ve got an overloaded inbox to clear out. If you’ve never found the perfect RSS reader for you, it’s the one you should try.
Mobile Style That Works Everywhere
Skimr isn’t your typical RSS reader that shows every new article as an unread message needing your attention. Instead, it shows a list of your favorite sites, letting you click them individually to see the latest headlines, then easily jump back to the main list to see your list of sites again. It’s simple – perhaps too simple – but works great for catching the latest headlines on your favorite sites. There’s no list of unread feeds, no options to mark favorites or add tags or anything extra. It’s just the news. It make RSS make sense for casual use.
App stores and native apps may be all the rage on mobile devices and even laptops and desktops these days, but that hasn’t kept web app developers from pushing forward with responsive designs that work great on all devices. That’s the case with Skimr, which at first glance looks more at home on a phone or tablet browser than a desktop.
The mobile-style UI, though, lends itself to a very nice desktop experience too, though. It’s simple, clean, and readable, making it easy to catch headlines and see what stories you want to read further. You can click on the article to jump over to the original site to read it in full, if you want, or scroll down and click the Load more skims link to bring up older entries. Best of all, it’s one of the fastest webapps you’ll use, so jumping between your favorite sites won’t take much time at all.
If you want to add your own favorite sites to Skimr – and you’ll want to – then you can signup for a simple account with just your email and password. Then, you can add the feeds you want from the simple form on the bottom of the page. It’s literally the simplest RSS reader I’ve ever seen – perhaps second only to newer Mac apps like Leaf – and there’s no confusing extras beyond your sites. It works great, and the only one thing I’d like to see added is a feature to detect RSS feeds from sites’ address directly, without having to put in the exact RSS feed address. That’s the only part of Skimr that makes it a bit confusing for users new to RSS feeds.
Then, with an account, you can edit the names on your favorite websites, or remove their subscription if you don’t want to keep up with them anymore. You can’t reorder your sites, but they’re kept in alphabetical order already, so that’s not too much of a problem.
But then, there’s quite a bit you can do without an account, too. Each site has its own unique URL, so you could bookmark that site’s page on Skimr and visit it directly, if you want, so you can just catch up on that site’s articles. You can thus read any site that’s on Skimr’s homepage, or in its rather extensive directory, directly, sans-account. If you do have an account, though, it gets a bit better, as you can quickly add sites from the directory to your collection from the + icon on the top. Everything’s kept simple and clean, with or without an account.
I’ve been a faithful Google Reader user for years, and am not about to give it up now. As a tech writer, one of the things I need to do for work is to keep up with dozens of industry blogs, one of the many ways to know when new apps and updates are released. Google Reader and the apps I use with it, such as Reeder for Mac, work great for that.
But you know what? For my daily dose of simple news, I think I’m going to keep using Skimr. It’s great for reading those sites where it’s not a big deal if I don’t read every article they write, and will give me a quick way to check into the news from any device. Even for a geek that’s got an extensive RSS reader list setup, that’s nice.
Skimr is the RSS reader I’ll be recommending for anyone looking for something simple to read the news online, for sure. It’s that good.