Seriously, app developers are clearly trying to get us to read more on our Apple Watches and -- you know what? It will work. Not with Wear Reader
, the app that shows you books one word at a time, and actually not with this news app RSS Wear 1.0
, but something will get us. It might even be some future version of RSS Wear, possibly.
RSS newsreaders on the iPhone and iPad are these great ways of having all the news you want coming straight to you: don't go to websites looking for material, just look at your iOS device when you have a minute. Maybe you'll then go on to the site to read in full, or maybe you'll just read it all on the device -- but the thing is that you know when there is something new, and you know what it is. You can read the headline for certain, the start of a piece for fairly certain, and very often the entire article.
Having that on your Apple Watch is a good thing. Tiny screen or no, having the news available to you right there is a very good thing. Plus, the Apple Watch screen is excellent.
Or so we thought. The screen is undeniably superb for us, but it's dependent on your choice of font and size: leave it with the default, and you get perfectly crisp and enjoyably-readable text. RSS Wear, the app for the Watch, tries to cram more in: a standard Apple Watch screen runs to about 30 words, and this shows around 50. It's too much. You can read it, but it's not as pleasant and relaxing as it could be, plus you can't change it. Since 50 words isn't enough to show you a complete news story, and so you have to scroll anyway, we'd rather scroll a bit further and have a regular-size font.
What's good about RSS Wear, though, is that it will give you all these news stories from many sources. To have a completely free hand and subscribe to any website that publishes an RSS feed -- say for example, MacNN
-- you have to buy the in-app upgrade to an Unlimited RSS Feed version, which costs $1. Otherwise, the free one forces you to search through categories but, give the maker credit, the categories of pre-selected news sites is comprehensive. There's no leaving out the most popular ones in order to get you to upgrade.
What's poorer about RSS Wear, though, is that it rather fails on two basic fundamentals of RSS. One is that having found a story you want to read, and then read all that RSS is allowed to show you, you should be able to go through to the website to read more. The Watch has no web browser, so that couldn't happen -- but in similar situations, Apple's own apps will offer to handover to your iPhone to do this. RSS Wear just doesn't respond to taps or presses on a news story.
Also, having read a news story, it should vanish from your list. We didn't expect RSS Wear to sync with our preferred RSS newsreader Reeder, but we did expect it to take stories off the Watch. We also expected it to remove them or in some way mark them as read on the accompanying iOS app. RSS Wear does neither. We're not clear when it does get rid of old stories, and there's not a lot of space space available.
Still, yesterday we didn't expect to ever read much on our Apple Watches, and yet today we want to read more. It's the promise of RSS Wear that attracts us more than the actuality, but we are attracted.
RSS Wear 1.0 needs a less-ugly icon, but all it actually requires is iOS 8.2 or higher, plus an Apple Watch. It's free on the App Store
and comes with a $1 in-app purchase that lets you specify news feeds you want to subscribe to.
Who is RSS Wear 1.0 for:
Dedicated news junkies with good eyesight and, as yet, no alternative.
Who is RSS Wear 1.0 not for:
If you shrug at the idea of news, or are avoiding everything until the Presidential election is over, this isn't for you.
-- William Gallagher (@WGallagher