Unread 2 is my new favourite RSS app for the iPad. It might be my favourite app on this new iPad, period.

A new iPad means going down the path of finding as many app replacements for your mainstay apps as possible. Right? I can’t be the only guy who constantly does this when a new device enters my life.

Reeder has been one of my go-to apps since time immemorial. Scrolling back through my App Store purchases page reveals a Reeder purchase back in 2010, shortly after Instapaper. This makes Reeder the second app I ever purchased.1

Pretty impressive for an RSS app to be one of my main picks a full 10 years later.

But I do admit, Reeder has become stale for me, especially on this 11-inch iPad Pro. For two reasons:

  1. Reeder’s current iteration of keyboard and trackpad support just aren’t — trackpad support in particular requires a physical click and drag to swipe back on a menu.
  2. Reeder’s 11-inch iPad Pro portrait views just don’t speak to me. There is no format or layout in Reeder that provides as comfortable a reading experience as I’d like. From dark mode themes to how information is laid out, I’m just not drawn to reading anything in Reeder.

As a result, I went on the hunt. And there are a range of great RSS apps to try these days. I started on The Sweet Setup’s guide to the best RSS apps first (of course), but also found new apps like Unread 2 and NetNewsWire.2

In fact, Unread 2 came away with my subscription money after all was said and done. I’m deeply impressed with the latest version of Unread due to a variety of reasons, the least of which is the incredible reading view.

Unread 2’s RSS Service Support

Unread 2 supports the whole range of RSS service providers, from Feedly to Feedbin, Feedwrangler, Inoreader, and more. I’ve been a Feedwrangler subscriber since the service debuted (which was shortly after Google Reader was discontinued), but even that service has grown stale in recent years. Feedwrangler hasn’t been updated with the same types of modern features found in Inoreader and Feedbin, and the $20+ annual subscription fee also stands higher than a few other RSS services.

So, I will be discontinuing my Feedwrangler subscription this July, and will instead be opting for Feedly’s free RSS service and an Unread 2 subscription. If I have $20 or so to throw at RSS each year, I’m going to throw my money at Golden Hill Software in 2020.

Unread 2’s Beautiful Themes

I’m not exactly sold on Unread’s prolific use of Whitney. Whitney is prevalent across the web (you’re reading it right now!), but I’m no longer convinced it’s the very best font for reading longer-form content. I’d prefer a serif myself.

But visually speaking, Whitney is beautiful, and it showcases front and center inside Unread’s light and dark mode themes. The reading views show off the font in a few different sizes based on your preferences, but other reading variables like line height, column width, and image size are all locked into place.

By keeping everything fairly proprietary, Unread’s themes are able to colourfully come to life. Back in Unread 1 days, I was a “Chippy” guy. That time has passed though, and I now prefer either “Day” or “Chicken White” by day and “Night” and “Blue Train” by night. The true black theme found in “Black” is one of those trends I could never got onboard with, despite the true black “Black” app icon being the best icon available in the app.

There are a whole range of themes for you to try and you’re sure to find a theme that suits your eyes no matter your lighting and preferential situation. Whichever theme you choose to go with, Unread 2’s use of Whitney will remain beautiful to look at, albeit ever-so-slightly compromised in the reading department.

Unread 2’s Gesture System

Way back when Jared Sinclair first designed Unread for the iPhone, he made it clear that Unread was designed to be used with one hand on the iPhone. If I remember correctly from one of his blog posts, he designed the app to be used in one hand while feeding a baby with the other.

This gesture control system continues its way on the iPad, but in a slightly different format: Unread 2’s gesture controls are best used with two hands.

Let me explain.

The 11-inch iPad Pro is the best iPad size and aspect ratio for reading; I’ve already explained myself at length about this on The Sweet Setup. In general, I find myself using Unread on the iPad in portrait mode with two hands. As you move through the feed lists, it’s incredibly easy to swipe left with your left thumb and use your right thumb to choose from any of the swiped-in actions.

The swiped-in actions have grown in length since Unread’s earlier days, but their usability hasn’t decreased by any stretch. You can now pin your favourite read-later service right to this menu, or you can change ordering, change themes, or mark all articles as read with the tap of your right thumb.

I always thought RSS apps like Reeder and NetNewsWire were the superior apps for triaging RSS feeds. However, this two-handed gesture control system is the most efficient, most comfortable, and most genuinely fun way to triage RSS feeds that I’ve found to date.

Unread 2’s Utilization of the Latest iOS Technologies

I would have never expected Unread to be one of the App Store’s leaders in adopting the latest iOS technologies. RSS as a whole is an old, traditional way of reading and has generally been slow to adopt any new iOS technologies. Unread 2 has bucked that trend, making it one of the leaders on the App Store.

For one, Unread 2’s adoption of proper trackpad, cursor, and swiping support are heads and tails ahead of its competitors, especially when using the new Magic Keyboard. Two fingers to swipe back is so much easier than having to click the trackpad before swiping to go back. It’s amazing how terrible this specific gesture is to pull off with a trackpad inside apps that haven’t been properly updated.

Unread 2 also has Split View and Slide Over support. Slide Over support isn’t the most helpful for an RSS and reading app in particular, however I foresee Split View being really neat in Unread’s future. By tapping (or clicking) and dragging an article out of the article list to the right or left side of the display, you can push Unread into Split View mode, with the article loaded on the side and your article list loaded in the other. A quick swipe of the Slide Over apps to put them in a 33/67 split provides you with Unread’s great reading view beside a nicely spaced list of articles.

The only hiccup I’ve found with this Split View implementation so far is the ability to swipe a second article into the Split View window after you’ve finished reading. Once you’ve finished reading an article, you actually have to close the second instance of Unread in order to put a new article into Split View (or you have to navigate back to the article list in the second instance of the app). I’d like to see Golden Hill Software somehow allow you to keep the article list on the left and tap and drag articles into the right instance of the app, one after the other. Perhaps this is an iOS limitation. Perhaps it’s an issue with the app. Whatever the case, I think it’d be great, and it’s the one hiccup I’ve found with Unread 2 so far.

Wrap Up

TLDR; A new iPad meant I needed to try out all the latest and greatest RSS apps. I landed on Unread 2, changed up my RSS subscription services to ensure I was utilizing my dollars correctly, and I’ve read more RSS articles in the last week than I had at any point in the prior year.3

Unread 2’s themes are beautiful and consistent. Unread 2’s use of gestures — specifically two-handed gestures — is actually the best way to both triage and read RSS articles. And Unread 2’s adoption of the latest iOS technologies make it not just a leader in the RSS app category, but in the App Store as a whole.

I know some other friends that went down the path of looking for the best RSS reader for their new iPads and many (many!) folks continue to come back to Reeder. I think I’m now an Unread guy, after 10 years of Reeder use.

I’m very excited to see how Golden Hill Software keeps growing Unread 2 over the year(s) to come.

Forgive me for the 2010 date, but this was the first phone where I was allowed to sign for myself as an adult.

Perhaps signifying that we need to update our guide on The Sweet Setup yet again.

Honestly! I’d just “Mark all as read” every few weeks in Reeder because the list was just too long to properly consume.