Feed Wrangler aims to make you forget about Google Reader, make RSS easier with Smart Streams, filters, and more

Feed Wrangler for both iPhone and iPad is the new guy on the block when it comes to RSS reader apps but that doesn't mean it lacks in quality. Complete with smart streams, Google Reader import options, and read it later integration for both Pocket and Instapaper, it may be a better option for those who don't like the more dynamic interfaces of apps like Feedly or Flipboard.

While Feed Wrangler is a free download, you'll need to subscribe to the service in order to actually use the app. This service will run you $18.99 a year which might be off putting to many users. What you're paying for, however, is sync and server-side smarts, which is what made Google Reader so fast, and now makes Feed Wrangler really fast as well. Since "free" services like Google Reader have a way of disappearing, they can ultimately be more costly in terms of time, stress. Apps that charge a fair and sustainable price could be a better alternative to some users. And at $18.99 a year, it's pennies a day.

If you decide RSS is a service worth paying for, the first thing Feed Wrangler asks you to do is import your feeds from Google Reader or add them manually. This is easy enough within the app settings, or via the website. Just be aware it may take a few minutes for your feeds to filter in.

Feed Wrangler also has deep read-later integration with both Pocket and Instapaper. In a nice touch, if I had no need feeds, Feed Wrangler gave me an instant link to my read-later service of choice. One thing I always seem to do is forget that I've saved articles for later and then I have a ton to catch up on when I do remember. This may help to me jump in and play catch up more often when there aren't any new stories available to browse.

Many Google Reader users may have categories set up but sadly, those won't import. The good news is that Feed Wrangler actually has what a lot of people may consider a better way to sift through news feeds. Smart streams allow you to enter keywords and create a stream that will filter in news that only contains those terms. For example, if you wanted to create an Apple stream, you can input keywords such as iOS, iPhone, iPad, and anything else you're interested in. Feed Wrangler will then follow that criteria and, under that stream, only feed in stories that contains those terms.

Features like search work exactly like you'd expect. Results are displayed quickly and in most cases, accurately.

The good

  • Simple interface that doesn't distract from actually reading
  • Syncs quickly and articles load almost instantly
  • Smart Streams are brilliant and a much better way to filter news than just regular categories
  • Share options including email, message, Twitter, Facebook, and App.net

The bad

  • No unread badge count
  • Convincing people to pay for RSS could be a tough sell (until Google Reader goes away).
  • Google Reader sync had some issues

The bottom line

Feed Wrangler is incredibly fast and for users that want a simple interface that allows them to just read content with no distractions, it may be a perfect fit. The $18.99/year subscription fee will undoubtedly be a turnoff to potential users. However, with Google Reader going away this summer, it's very possible we're going to see RSS subscriptions become a much more common option. Great sync and great server-side services aren't easy, and "you get what you pay for" is a cliché for a reason.

Either way, it will definitely be interesting to see where the RSS market goes over the next several months.If you decide to give Feed Wrangler a try, let me know what you think about the app and the service.

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.