One Size Software Does Not Fit All

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

I got into a small debate last night on Twitter about how I use Apple News and why I don't think it's a good RSS reader for my use case. Earlier in the day, MacRumors posted a rumor that Apple is working on a feature that will like you unlock your Mac with TouchID on your iPhone. This is precisely what the great app MacID does, and could be trouble for that app's future.

Apple has a tendency to get into markets that are already serviced by a third party solution, and we always talk about how they're being "Sherlocked" and will need to throw in the towel.

Remember how everyone stopped using Instapaper and Pocket after Apple introduced Reading List in Safari? Or how nobody uses Spotify now that Apple Music exists? How about when Google Maps died because Apple released their own Maps app? Dropbox has died since iCloud Drive, iBooks killed the Kindle, and 1Password and LastPass were crushed by iCloud Keychain.

Except none of those things happened because one app is almost never going to be the best solution for everybody, and to suggest there is one perfect app is absurd. I think MacID will remain a strong app after Apple releases OS X 10.12 this fall, and its sales will remain steady. There will likely be an opportunity to increase sales as people start to run into pain points and limitations of Apple's solution and MacID can fill the gaps.

Meanwhile, I will continue to use Reeder as my RSS client in parallel with Apple News because the apps do different things for me, and Apple News is woefully inadequate for how I use my newsreader.

  • Apple News does not show me all posts by my subscriptions, it curates my content in the For You tab. I want curation in many places, but RSS is not one of them; that's the whole point of RSS for me.
  • Apple News has shit organizational tools. I can look at a curated list, which isn't what I want, or I can go to the Favorites tab and see everything, but I have to tap on each site individually, which is basically like bookmarking these sites in Safari. Reeder has folders and a multitude of viewing options so I can get things just how I like them.
  • RSS is a triaging system for me, not a place to actually read most of the time. Reeder has gestures and shortcuts I can set to move articles to Pinboard, Instapaper, Pushbullet, Twitter, Facebook, and more without using iOS's share sheet. It's fast and flexible, and Apple News really wants you to save everything to your Apple News read later.
  • As someone who has to filter through a lot of posts, data density in a news reader is important. Apple News shows me 3-4 stories at once on screen, while Reeder gives me 8-9 (iPhone 6s Plus).

Ultimately what bothers me is the feeling that there is one way to do things in software that is objectively better for everyone. There may be something that's best for most people, and built in apps will always be more used than third party ones, but I think it's foolish to assume that any single app can serve the needs of everyone.