A little background
It's not often that I find the privilege of blogging about an application which is not only feature-rich and revolutionary in its feature set, but takes accessibility to an entirely new level. Of course, if you ask David Goodwin, the awesome guy behind AppleVis, he'll tell you that my inspiration for blogging has subsided recently despite what creative app developers are doing... David, do you hear me?! :)
Anyhow, here I've blogged a few times about lire (Full-text RSS reader), an application which first brought the innovative concept of displaying the full text of articles with shrunken text to iOS. The app has evolved considerably over the past couple of years and, as recently as September 2015, version 2 of lire managed to outwit its competitors in my Full-text RSS Reader Shootout.
Now what's changed?
With V3 of lire out the door -- after a couple of months of intensive beta-testing, that awesome experience has been enhanced considerably. Let's take a close look at what's new in lire V3:
- Completely new UI.
- Several new fonts.
- New sync services: FeedHQ, The Old Reader, Inoreader, BazQux Reader.
- State Restoration (this is a big one, and took quite a bit to get right).
- Standalone feed engine is completely rebuilt from the ground up.
- Support for a new, third-party text parser: if, for whatever rare reason, the built-in text parser fails to display the full text of an article, you can now try it with the third-party text parser. Just tap the Share button and select 'Refresh full text using Mercury Web Parser.'
- Easy way to report problems with specific feeds that the new standalone feed engine may have trouble with: Go to view articles of specific feeds, from the article list, open Subscription Details, and tap on 'Report a problem' button at the bottom of the Subscription Details view (this button is only visible if you’re using the app in Standalone mode).
- New and more efficient full-text fetching engine.
- Easy way to report problems with full-text extraction of specific articles: Tap 'Report a problem' link at the bottom of the full-text view.
- New background refresh/sync engine: You can now set the minimum amount of time that must elapse after a background refresh/sync before another background refresh/sync can be initiated.
- Get notifications when a successful background refresh/sync downloads new articles.
- New OPML import engine: Besides being able to import files via 'Open with:' from other apps, you can now import OPML files from iCloud drive, and other apps that offer file providers, from right within the OPML Import/Export view.
- New section in Accessibility/VoiceOver Options: VoiceOver users can now change the order in which VoiceOver will speak different attributes of each article in a list of articles (this is also a big one, and took quite a bit to get right).
- New Fast Read Later option: This is different from 'Fast Read Later' in previous versions: Go to Settings > Article Options > Fast Read Later, and select what you want Fast Read Later to do. This action will basically replace the second button on the bottom bar in the main article view.
- New Swipe To Left Action option in article lists: Go to Settings > Article Options > Swipe To Left Action, and select what you want Swipe To Left Action to do. Which in a list of articles swipe/slide an article to the left to perform this actions. VoiceOver users can perform this action from the rotor.
- New Swipe To Right Action option in article lists: Go to Settings > Article Options > Swipe To Right Action, and select what you want Swipe To Right Action to do. Which in a list of articles swipe/slide an article to the right to perform this actions. VoiceOver users can perform this action from the rotor.
- Easy way to report problems with Cache: Go to Settings > Caching Options > Report a problem.
- Powerful keyword topic filtering with Google News and Bing News support: if you enter a word in the Search edit box of the New subscription dialog, you'll now see Google News and Bing News suggestions listed at the top. This will allow you to monitor topics of interests with the power of Google News and Bing News.
The above list is self-explanatory, but let me add a few observations of my own.
First, despite all of these enhancements and bug fixes, lire is free for all previous purchasers. The app costs $4.99, but if you purchased its V1 or V2 releases in the past, it'll be free for you.
Second, I mentioned in my shootout that lire has issues with multipage articles. Now it's no longer the case. Lire can open most multipage articles and now displays such articles on one single page. But if you find such a problematic article, just report it via the 'Report a problem' link at the bottom of the page, and the issue will be resolved not only for that article, but for that website.
Third, if you intend to use the Google News or Bing news support, I recommend switching to the Stand-alone feed reader as it does a better job of fetching articles from those sources compared with, say, Feedly.
It's worth mentioning that lire isn't a full-fledged Google News reader as Kunal Sood, the app developer, rightly mentioned to me that Google doesn't officially provide an API for Google News support. As such, it might be a waste of development time to focus on all aspects of Google News support when they can be altered or removed easily.
Fourth, now the Rotor provides you with more options when positioned on an article, so do utilize them! For instance, selecting the Options button on an article allows you to mark all articles below or above the current one as Read.
And last but not least, lire can now retain your last position. So if you close and later re-open it, you'll land on where you were. It can be, say, an open article, a specific folder, or a specific window of interest. Kunal has spent a lot of time to implement this apparently small but ultimately important feature.
Hope you like lire as much as I do. Of course, if you're a news junkie or simply want to monitor certain websites which might have nothing to do with political or economic news, I'm not sure if something else can handle the job as efficiently and accessibly as lire. So, Kunal, huge thanks and plaudits are in order! In case you're reading this, just let us know why lire has a lowercase letter instead of an uppercase one!