There’s been a lot of talk recently about the best way forward for newspapers in the digital age. Rupert Murdoch thinks the best way is to charge for content, Charlie Brooker thinks a virtual coin is the solution while those at the New York Times think a dedicated subscriber funded reader app is the future.
Murdoch’s idea I feel is, excuse the pun, behind the times. Brooker’s is slightly less mad and so it’s the NYT Reader that gets my vote as something that can realistically sustain newspaper profitability. Which is why I was impressed by the simply named Times RSS reader.
Times features all the benefits of a solid RSS reader but with the elegance of a newspaper style interface. It’s organized just like a newspaper with the page sections along the top such as Technology, Science, Sport and News. You can create your own pages simply by going to “Edit” and “Create Page”. To add an RSS feed, click on the pen in the top right hand corner.
Your feeds panel then opens showing all the feeds you have assigned to various pages. Enter a website address for the feed, Times will do a quick check to see if it is has an RSS feed and when the green tick appears, simply enter a name for it. Then you can drag and drop the feeds into position on the blank page in front of you thus creating your own personalized page.
One slick little bonus of Times is “The Shelf” which works on the same principle as Stacks on Leopard. You can drag items of interest onto your shelf for reading later and when you click on the shelf symbol in the top right corner, the shelf appears with the articles expanded Stacks style so you can see exactly what you’d like to read.
The overall look and feel of Times is a refreshing change from your average RSS reader. However, navigation can be a little frustrating. Hiding the feeds requires you to access the “View” menu when you should be apple to drag or pop the panel back up when you’re done adding a new feed. It’s also a little annoying how you can’t access the comments on blog posts using Times – you have to go directly to the page itself which will open in your default browser if you just click on the title. You can however share feeds extremely easily on Digg, Facebook and Twitter thanks to integration with all three.
Times is definitely worth trying for those RSS addicts who are nostalgic for newspapers and may even give the newspaper industry itself a thing or two to think about when considering future formats.