If you read more than one site daily (and we hope you do), you may be used to bookmarking sites and clicking their names one by one, scanning the page to see if anything’s been updated since the last time you read it. If you’re a Chrome user, you can add these bookmarks to the “new tab” page. But is there an even better, more efficient way to keep up with your daily reads?
Feedly is a free Chrome app that puts all your favorite online blogs, magazines, and news sources into an attractive, well-organized format. It combines “feeds” from any sites you add to it, showing the most recent stories and allowing you to filter and customize through a very simple (but powerful) interface. It can be used on its own, or it can synchronize with your subscriptions in Google Reader and/or Twitter.
We’re really impressed by how good Feedly’s interface looks. There’s something undeniably cool about just adding your own personal bookmarks to it and having Feedly instantly lay it out like a magazine. No matter what kind of feeds you add, it just looks “professional” somehow.
Beneath each story or blog post you can see which feed it came from and how long ago it was published. Clicking on a story’s picture or title opens up an article summary, which tends to consist of the full article text for news stories and things like tech blogs. Clicking on the article title in the summary will take you to the page the article is on. You can read everything from Feedly if you want — the only times I had to go to the actual page were for things like photography galleries.
Of course, you can separate your feeds into different categories to keep everything well-organized. The “What’s New?” and “Cover” pages combine the newest articles from every category into one efficient layout. But, by clicking on the names of your categories to the left, you can instantly filter your stories. The overall effect feels like sections in a newspaper, but the sections only cater to subjects you’re interested in.
There are at least twenty options to completely customize the look and features in Feedly, something I actually only discovered at the end of this review because I liked the default settings so much. The design of the reader is superb–probably the best news reader I’ve seen.
The main screen where you can add, delete, and organize news feeds and categories:
It’s incredibly easy to add new sources. You can search for new feeds from within the app (by name, subject, or entering the URL of the page), or you can use “feedly-mini,” an optional “chiclet” icon that sits in the bottom-right corner of Chrome. Clicking on the little icon brings up a list of options that allow you to subscribe to the page or share it in a variety of familiar ways.
Feedly-mini is completely optional and easy to turn off if you don’t want to use it, but I’ve actually found it really useful and unobtrustive. And for the record, I’m someone who’s pretty obsessive about keeping my screen clean-looking and minimalist. I always forget it’s even there until I want to use it. But, again, it’s easy to turn off.
The responsiveness of the app is also great. Everything you do is instant, whether it’s clicking on an article or filtering by a new category, everything happens in the blink of an eye. That’s partially due to Chrome web optimizations, but credit should also go to the developers as I’ve used other news readers in Chrome that were very fast, but not quite as fast as Feedly.
Feedly has quickly proven to be one of my most-used Chrome apps so far. I’ve already gotten into the rhythm of checking it for everything I normally read, rather than clicking through the dozen bookmarks several times a day. It’s so simple, that there’s really not much else to say besides “you should use this app.” It’s an absolute essential app for a new Chromebook owner, and it’s available for free in the Chrome web store.