RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is the widely used, XML based system for distributing syndication of many news sites and blogs. In order to use this popular technology, the use of an aggregator is required. There are many popular RSS aggregators available on the mac platform. In this post I will review and compare a few of the newest and most popular: NetNewsWire, Newsfire, Newslife, Vienna, and, OS X’s own built in web browser/RSS reader, Safari.
NetNewsWire Ranchero Software, $25.95
Pros: Free Lite version available, auto-collection, smart folders, search, synchronization with newsgator service, scriptable, built-in efficient web browser.
Cons: No item threading, No ability to put items in context, No spotlight integration, No customizable color labels, lowest automatic refresh time is 30 minutes.
Newsfire Dave Watanabe, $20
Pros: Sleek design, efficiently functional interface, integrated search, smart folders, integrates with several desktop del.icio.us applications such as Pukka, fairly quick automatic refresh time of merely 5 minutes.
Cons: No Labels, no AI for efficient Smart Folders, no way to archive feeds, no integrated synchronization.
Newslife ThinkMac Software, $20, Public Beta
Pros: Easy to use, familiar and efficient interface, works seamlessly with OS X apps like Safari and iTunes, includes tools for quick posting to social bookmarking sites like digg and del.icio.us, “Speck” article text to speech capabilities.
Cons: In beta and still rather buggy, fastest automatic refresh time is 20 minutes, $20 is a rather steep price for it’s present state- even though it’s in public beta the nag screens can become quite an annoyance.
Vienna Open Community UK, Freeware, Open Source
Pros: Simple and easy-to-use interface, smart folders, ability to flag individual articles.
Cons: Vienna cannot learn which item to place in a smart folder by experience, no colored labels for organizing items, very little support for podcasts or any other media delivered via RSS, no integration with online RSS services.
Safari RSS Apple Inc., Bundled with Mac OS X
Pros: Built into OS X, allows for integrated RSS reading and web browsing seamlessly, Solid search and archiving, modifiable article length.
Cons: Safari may not be your browser of preference so the advantage of having RSS integrated in your web browser (though there are a few more browsers with this same capability, notably firefox), most of the “standard” features (smart folders, social bookmarking etc.) are not present.
Conclusion: Go with Newsfire if you have the money, otherwise go with NetNewsWire Lite. Both have solid, intuitive interfaces, and the great features you’ve come to expect from modern RSS applications.