Feed Wrangler: Day four and in love
I like Feed Wrangler. I am now four days in to life without Google Reader and my initial impressions of Feed Wrangler have been confirmed. The service has been reliable, although I have had some issues with the iPad app, of which more later. Now I have mastered Smart Streams I have been able to arrange my feeds into three sections to mimic the folder structure of Google Reader. Setting up a Smart Streams is very simple: Give it a name, tick the "only include unread" box and untick the "stream should include all feeds" box. When this box is unticked you see a list of all available feeds and you can go through ticking those you wish to include in that particular stream.
The only feature apparently missing is an "unallocated" list which would show new feeds and those feeds not allocated to an existing smart stream. However, I discovered that Mr. Reader, which now syncs with Feed Wrangler, does show unallocated feeds by default.
All three Feed Wrangler apps, iPad, iPhone and web are all very basic, but not necessarily the worse for that. The initial concentration on Instapaper linkage suits me, although others may be put off by this. I can understand that Feed Wrangler's first task was to provide the basics in a reliable package and enhancements can be added later. The web view is straightforward and perfectly functional. It updates quickly. The iPad app, on the other hand, has been very slow to sync and I began to think that the Feed Wrangler servers were overloaded. By chance, however, it was Mr. Reader that proved this not to be the case.
After pointing Mr. Reader to Feed Wrangler instead of Google, all my feeds, including smart streams, appeared in seconds. I then discovered that Mr. Reader synchronises just as quickly as it did with Google Reader, unlike Feed Wrangler's own iPad app. So the problem is almost certainly with the app and it can be rectified easily.
I have experienced one further annoyance with the iPad Feed Wrangler app. When "wrangling" the list of stories and hitting the Instapaper button I find that the list often scrolls back to the beginning. I lose my place and have to scroll down looking for the last item read. It's a small point and, again, will be rectified. On the other hand, Mr. Reader performs perfectly, just as with Google Reader, so I am using this app for most of my workflow processing.
I am pleased that I have found a good alternative to Google Reader. I like the Smart Streams system and think I will prefer it to a rigid file structure.
Just one complication: I have been invited to the beta test of Digg Reader and I intend to give it a try just to see if there are any advantages. But it will take a lot to convince me that it is better than Feed Wrangler. Not only does Feed Wrangler work well, it is being supported by more and more third-party applications such as Mr. Reader. Reeder, another stalwart, is about to introduce Feed Wrangler linking and Reeder, unlike Mr.R which is iPad only, has apps for iPad, iPhone and Mac.
After having had only a Hobson's choice in Google Reader, we now have at least half a dozen wannabe replacements. Some, undoubtedly, will fall by the wayside but I do not think that Feed Wrangler will be one of them.