An RSS reader made the Apple way

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If Apple were to make an RSS reader application I'm sure it would look and act very similar to NewsFire, a freely available application from David Watanabe. What struck me the most about NewsFire was it's simplicity -- at a time when developers are packing more and more features into their applications, it was refreshing to see an application that just does what it is supposed to do, and look good doing it.

NewsFire features Apple's brushed metal look, which I prefer to the Aqua interface. A two-pane view greets you when opening the application with your RSS feeds on the left side and a list of stories on the right. Everything from the fonts to the way the application handles updated feeds feels like it came straight out of Apple's Cupertino headquarters.

When sitting idle, the RSS feeds are sorted alphabetically by the publication or site. However, when a new story is posted on a site, that RSS feed moves to the top of the list with a little green box showing you how many new stories there are. (Actually, the feed "shuffles" it's way up the list and "shuffles" back into alphabetically order when the stories are read -- very cool).

After clicking on the RSS feed, you see any new stories listed in the right hand pane. Mousing over a story highlights it blue and a click loads the story summary in the same window. To continue reading other stories you have a couple of choices: You can click the rebound arrow (think Safari's Google rebound arrow) and be brought back to the list of stories or you can stay in the story summary window and click the forward and back arrows, loading other summaries.

All is not perfect with NewsFire. For instance, there is no progress bar to let you know where you are in the process of checking feeds. There are also a couple of interface things that I would like to see like allowing one click on a headline to mark it as read instead of going directly to the story; two clicks could take you to the story.

That in mind, this is a very cool application and best of all it's free.

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