For a long time now, NetNewsWire has been setting the standard for feed readers on the Mac. The first version dates back to the middle of 2002 and the app has gone through three major revisions since. This week, NetNewsWire 4 Lite arrived in the Mac App Store. This free version (OS X 10.6.6, 64-bit only) will soon be followed by a more fully-featured paid version, which is a good thing, given that it does away with almost all of the features NetNewsWire 3 users have come to love over the last few years.
Lite on Features
As the name implies, the ‘lite’ version cuts back on features. There is no Google Reader syncing, for example, and no search functionality, no ability to star items, no tabs and no nested folders. Gone, too, are the multiple different views and ways to sort your subscriptions.
In return, you do get a new three-pane interface that is far more reminiscent of Reeder for Mac than NetNewsWire 3. It’s clean and very fast, but also infatuated with the use of white space. Because of this, whereas NetNewsWire 3 allowed you to skim around 40 headlines before you had to scroll further down, you only get to see about 10 in the new version.
It’s probably not fair to compare this new ‘lite’ version directly to the fully-featured NetNewsWire 3, but I’m not sure I like the direction the developers are going. Some people will surely love this new design, but I don’t think it makes for a better feed reading experience in the end.
To see for yourself, give the app a try. You can install it side-by-side with the old version.