I love RSS news feeds. I have to be honest though, up until the emergence of smartphones, they didn’t really do much for me, as although on a desktop they are definitely extremely useful for many people they never held more of a passing interest to me. On a small screened phone, however, the ability to have your own, customised news channel showing news from the BBC alongside blog entries from tiny sites is both exciting and incredibly helpful.
There are literally thousands of different RSS apps, not only on the Apple App Store, but on every platform imaginable, so any new app has to have something special about it to mark it self out from the immense crowd. Some are feature rich, some have quirky interfaces, and all are vying for your attention, many at premium prices.
Rainbow uses an interface based on colours. Each feed you add to the app can be allocated a colour, with the feeds displayed in a list with the different colours along the top bar. Touching a colour displays all the items for that colour, and there is also a multi colour button to display all the colours in one big list. It’s a great system, as it not only allows you to display items from one particular feed, but it allows you to assign a group of feeds to one colour.
For example, you may wish to assign BBC News, Yahoo News and Reuters the colour yellow, a load of sports feeds red and some tech news sites to blue. So touching yellow will show you all the general news, red will show you all the sports news and blue will show all your gadget stories. It’s immensely powerful, and after you decide how to set your feeds up it is so easy to sift your way through all the latest information. Each individual item, when opened, displays its colour al around the borders, which is a nice touch that really makes the app have an individual look. The main list also displays the colours as tabs on the right hand side, which helps identify different subjects and shows that a lot of thought has gone into this app.
I just wish it was possible to assign feeds more than one colour, maybe a main colour and a secondary colour, so you would be able to group by type, and also bring up a full list from an individual feed. As it is, you really have to choose whether to assign by type or individual feed, otherwise things can become confusing.
The app also isn’t as feature rich as other readers, one important feature missing is the option to search for new feeds by keywords. At the moment you either have to know most of the URL or add feeds from your Google Reader account. A few more options here would be great. One feature the app does have is an easily reachable search bar to search through your current feeds. It’s surprising how many Readers don’t actually allow you to do this.
Push notifications are nicely unobtrusive, and can be customised to a decent level, though lack an option for a ‘manual’ update for the feeds. You can also share items via email, Twitter and Facebook.
All the complaints are things that I’m sure the developer will be adding as time goes by, and the app is currently free and ad supported. I hope a paid for version is in the works to avoid the ads, although the ads are quite well done in that they only appear occasionally.
Overall, this really is a fantastic RSS Reader, with an innovate and intuitive interface and for the current price of zero has to be considered unmissable. Despite lacking a few features, this is now my favourite RSS Reader and really is simply beautiful.