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Ever since Google Reader died, we’ve all been scrambling to find replacements. In fact, since Google’s original announcement of Google Reader’s death, I’ve heard more about Google Reader than ever before, making me suspect Google’s motives in the matter. Regardless of those, we’ve all been going back and forth between different readers, with the majority of users Which Alternative Did You Choose For Google Reader? [MakeUseOf Poll] Which Alternative Did You Choose For Google Reader? [MakeUseOf Poll] Last week we asked you whether you use two-step verification, and if so, on which accounts. While each of the options got a respectable number of votes, turns out that the vast majority of MakeUseOf... Read More currently focused on Feedly Feedly, Reviewed: What Makes It Such A Popular Google Reader Replacement? Feedly, Reviewed: What Makes It Such A Popular Google Reader Replacement? Now that Google Reader is but a distant memory, the fight for the future of RSS is truly on. One of the most notable products fighting the good fight is Feedly. Google Reader wasn't an... Read More .

Many other alternatives have been popping up, however, including a brand new reader by AOL AOL Launches Google Reader Replacement Just In Time For Google Reader's Shutdown [Updates] AOL Launches Google Reader Replacement Just In Time For Google Reader's Shutdown [Updates] AOL has launched a new service called AOL Reader, which, as the name implies, is aimed at providing a Google Reader replacement for all those who are still not satisfied with their choice. AOL Reader... Read More , the use of Twitter lists to follow the news Disappointed To See Google Reader Go? Use Twitter Lists Instead Disappointed To See Google Reader Go? Use Twitter Lists Instead With Google Reader on its way out, people have been scrambling to find alternatives to get their RSS fix. We've even come up with a list of solid alternatives to Google Reader to make sure... Read More , and many other interesting Google Reader alternatives worth checking out Google Reader's End Is Nigh: Prepare With These Alternative RSS Readers Google Reader's End Is Nigh: Prepare With These Alternative RSS Readers Google Reader is dead. By July the Internet's premier RSS service is shutting down forever, leaving users to find a replacement on their own. If you're looking for an equivalent to Google these are just... Read More . But the search, as it is, is not over. Google Reader had us all sleepy and overconfident, and we will not be caught unawares again. It is for this reason that many users are seeking the small and independent readers in favor of the big corporations.

Although I have so far settled on The Old Reader The Old Reader: A Convenient RSS Reader Like The Old Google Reader The Old Reader: A Convenient RSS Reader Like The Old Google Reader Read More — in itself a small and independent solution — I couldn’t help but feel impressed when I stumbled upon Iron Reader.

What Is Iron Reader?

Iron Reader is a super simple Web-based RSS/Atom reader, developed by a single man by the name of Amit Dhamu. I’ll say it again: it’s very simple, so don’t expect bells, whistles, or even a distinction between read and unread items, but it works, and does so on a respectable number of browsers and platforms. Officially, Iron Reader should work on Chrome 26+, Firefox 21+, Safari 6+, IE 10+, and Opera 12+.

It’s also very much a work in progress, and just in the time it took me to write this review and ask the developer a few questions, new features popped up in response to my feedback.

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In order to start using Iron Reader, create an account and log in. You can now start adding feeds and finding your way around.

Getting To Know Iron Reader

For fear or repeating myself, I will not say again that the interface is simple, but rest assured — it is. On your initial login, you’ll probably find one Google News feed, so you can get to know the interface using that. At the moment, there’s only one layout available, consisting of three columns: feed list, article list, and the article itself (unless you’re on a screen smaller than 1024px, which will cause the mobile layout to load).

Unlike other small and independent readers, Iron Reader’s interface seems different. The concept is the same, of course — there’s nothing revolutionary here — but it feels very polished, almost Modern in its design.

Each article comes with six share buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, and email, so you’re pretty much covered when it comes to sharing articles.

When I first took Iron Reader for a test drive, it had no keyboard shortcuts, which made navigation rather inconvenient. I asked the developer if he had any plans to add these, at which point he simply went ahead and added them. These are not your regular J and K hotkeys, but you can view all the available shortcuts by clicking on “Keyboard Shortcuts” or by hitting “?“. Using these, you can navigate between articles, between feeds, create new folders, visit the original article, and more. The shortcuts might be a bit hard to memorize, as they’re different from the norm, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

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Mouse navigation is not as convenient. While you can click on articles you want to view or feeds you want to open, you need to be pretty specific with where you click. An article will change color on mouse over, but you need to make sure the cursor turns into a finger pointer in order to open the article, otherwise nothing will happen. Same goes with feeds: you can only click the feed name itself, even though the entire tile changes color.

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You can add any article to your favorites by clicking the heart icon or using the “h” key. These will be collected in your “Favourites” folder for later reading.

Adding & Organizing Feeds

Despite its simplicity, Iron Reader supports folders, and makes it pretty easy to organize your feeds as you wish. But before you can organize them, you first need to add them. This can be done in several ways. The most simple one, if you already have feeds in Google Reader, Feedly, or any other service that supports OPML export, is to import your existing feeds. To do this, click the Import OPML, choose your file (for feeds exported from Google Reader choose “subscriptions.xml”), and click Import.

iron-reader-5

This will import your entire list of feeds, including any folders you may have had. To add more feeds, you can either use the “Discover” option, which offers some popular websites (but not many of them), or add feeds manually. Note, that you can’t just input a website’s name or even its URL. If you do that, Iron Reader will pretend to do something, return no error message, but will not add your feed to the list. To get it to work, you need the feed’s actual RSS/Atom URL. You can normally get this by browsing to the website you want to add, and clicking the RSS icon on that website.

An example for a RSS URL would be: http://feeds.feedburner.com/makeuseof.

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To organize feeds in folders, create new folders via the Add Folder button, and add feeds to that folder by clicking the folder icon next to the feed.

iron-reader-8

From here you can also edit the feed’s name, or delete it from your list.

Reading Feeds On Your Mobile

Since there is no Iron Reader app, you’ll be using the mobile version of the Web app which is completely responsive. Officially, Iron Reader is supported on iOS 6.0+ and Android 4.2.2+, but it will probably work on others as well. The mobile version of Iron Reader is just as clean and simple, and suffers from the same problems as the Web version.

iron-reader

Caveats

If you’ve read this far, you probably know that Iron Reader is not perfect. So why am I writing about it? Because for a one-person effort, it’s incredibly impressive. Because the simple interface is everything I want from an RSS reader, despite some missing features. Because the developer is very responsive to feedback; and because I’m hoping that given a little time Iron Reader would develop into a truly awesome RSS reader. It’s only missing a few features.

At the moment, Iron Reader is missing:

1. Unread counts, as well as a way of telling which articles you’ve read already and which you haven’t.

2. A convenient way to add feeds that doesn’t involve getting the RSS feed URL.

3. More intuitive navigation.

Bottom Line

Iron Reader may or may not become my go-to reader at its current state — I haven’t decided yet. But if nothing else, it’s definitely a reader to keep an eye on, and with some minor tweaking, and a few more options, could become something many users crave: a simple, no-frills, independent reader that works. With some additional features, it will even become a reader worth paying for.

What do you think of Iron Reader? Have you found a similar RSS reader you’d like to recommend? Add your thoughts below!

  1. Vincent
    July 31, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for the recommendation but I usually use Feedly and the Old Reader.

  2. Tom W
    July 30, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Well, it looks like I needed this a lot sooner than expected. The Old Reader will go private in two weeks, and my account didn't make the cut.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 31, 2013 at 6:06 am

      Yep... just when we got settled again!

      • Tom W
        July 31, 2013 at 9:59 am

        I can't blame the guys at The Old Reader though. They did their best to keep it going once it exploded in popularity, but they never set out to become that big.

        • Yaara Lancet
          July 31, 2013 at 10:58 am

          Yes, I don't blame them either. It is a great product. I wish I would have sought it out before March 13. :)

  3. arby
    July 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    I'll park this away too, thanks for telling us about it. I use Old Reader now, and use Feedly as a backup, which came in handy when Old Reader crashed last week.

  4. Suneo N
    July 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    FeedDemon is also a good alternative.......................

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks!

  5. Tom W
    July 26, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for the article. I'm using The Old Reader at the moment, but I'll keep this bookmarked in case I ever decide to change.

  6. nocomment
    July 26, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Sorry, i found a very good alternative Reader for mine called: inoreader. Almost the same features like the rested Google-Reader, but much BETTER!
    Haven´t that crappy visual Interface like the other alternatives ;-)

    Everyone who loved the Google Reader should check out InoReader (not Iron...):
    hxxp://www.inoreader.com. Let´s kick these google bastards in there ass

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks, InoReader looks very nice, although I think people should still definitely check out Iron Reader too. :)

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