My Perfect RSS Reader

RIP Google Reader - can we build something even better?

I don’t think there is quite the perfect feed reader available. I’m currently using Shaun Inmans Fever which is a great product with some amazing features for finding trending topics. However…

With the current furore about the new changes to Google Reader I spent some time thinking about the feed reader I would build in an ideal situation…

HTML5 Local Storage + Mobile Client

This is a pretty obvious one, the site needs to work on my iPod Touch and desktop. It also needs to work when I’m offline so I can read on highly lossy connections like public WiFi or train rides. Some of this is negated by the Instapaper integration, but not everyone has an Instapaper account do they?

Silent Socialising

The ability to mark items as public, and to provide the option to subscribe to other peoples public feeds. I would use this to replace the linked items on this site with a public feed of RSS items. There is also a separate option to favourite an item. Not always are favourite items public and vice versa. Google Reader, Instapaper, Pinboard have all proved the quiet social networks work on the web, you can’t build a platform out of them, but you can enhance your product.  

Like This? - Try This

Using some one of the many types of content classification it should be possible to classify either feeds or individual articles. Interesting and similar content that isn’t in the current set of RSS feeds can be presented to users.

Unbias This Article

If articles are classified into some type of topic grouping, it should be possible to apply sentiment analysis to article groupings. If you’re reading a news article and would like a different opinion you get presented with a selection of articles that have an opposing sentiment on the same topic.

Feed to SMS

As soon as a feed item is detected email or better SMS me the link. Great for anyone that needs instant notification of job postings, breaking news etc.


Google reader has no official API. Shocking to consider that so many desktop and mobile feed readers rely on Google reader as their cloud sync agent. My dream feed reader obviously would provide a beautiful, well documented API for independent developers to use.

There isn’t anything here that is particularly ground breaking or advancing the field of RSS reading. It is simply a set of technologies that I feel could provide a great experience.

Classification of articles is not perfect, but there are ways and means of getting some fairly decent results from computers. It would be a great way for people to find interesting and relevant articles to read without having to subscribe to yet more feeds. In my small amount of non-scientific RSS reader behaviour studies the people who are serious about reading feeds and staying up-to date are willing to invest in that ability. They are the pro RSS users that need heavy weight tools to manage and control the flood of really simple syndication.

In a back of an envelope calculation I think a working prototype could be cobbled together in 2 weeks and take a lifetime to perfect.