Posted by TJ on 7/10/2012Tags: Annoyances, iOS, Opinion, Software I UseA Reeder Complaint

I really love Reeder for iPhone. Silvio Rizzi has done a great job and created 3 wonderful apps (iPhone, iPad, and Mac version. Developers who don’t make complimentary app counterparts on all three platforms, please take note!)

I really don’t know what I would do without Reeder, I use it every day, all day long on both my Mac and my iPhone (and I’m sure I would use it on my iPad if I had one). But there is one thing that bothers me with the recent update to 3.x. The method of navigation back out of a feed item has changed. In the 2.x versions, there was an ever present “back” navigation button up in the top left. This was fine, it always functioned well and never bothered me in the slightest. And getting back to the list from an item was easy and discoverable.

3.x has changed this behavior. There is a back button up in the top left. But it sticks to the top of the item so that when you scroll, it immediately scrolls up out of sight. This is ostensibly to make more screen real estate for reading. The problem is getting back to the list of items is harder and less discoverable.

However, despite the fact that this new method is far less discoverable, there is a new method for getting out of an item and back to the list of unread items. That is a swipe to the right with a single finger. In theory this is a great compliment (not replacement) for the back button. We can talk all day about how bad it is to replace a friendly and easily discoverable method of navigation with a less discoverable method, but that’s not even the problem. The problem I am having is that almost every single time I try to swipe out of an item I have finished reading to get back to the list, I have to try two or three times. The problem seems to be that Reeder has trouble distinguishing if I’m trying to scroll or swipe. On top of which it is the only app that functions this way. If I spend to much time in Reeder I get confused when I go to another app of similar “item list, item” construction and try to use the gesture to get back to the list (Mail, Instapaper etc.). If I haven’t been in Reeder for a while then it often takes me a few seconds to remember how to go back. It may seem like a minor annoyance, but believe me it’s adding up.

Speaking of Instapaper, it has a back gesture too, a two finger swipe to the right. But it is not the only way to get back and I rarely use it because it’s different from every other system app, and different again from Reeder. Where Instapaper is manageable, and why I have no problem with this feature is that Instapaper does not replace the back button navigation with this gesture. Instead, it’s an addition. And yes, Instapaper hits all navigation and goes full screen, but a tap anywhere will bring the navigation back up. And when you get to the end of an item, the navigation automatically comes back up.

So this is my complaint. And as much as I love Reeder, and even love pretty much everything else about the 3.x update, this one issue is so hurting my user experience that I’m quite frustrated.