iOS/Mac Cross Pollination

December 5th, 2010  |  Published in mac and iphone

I’ve spent my share of time wishing that favorite Mac apps would make some sort of appearance as iOS apps, but I hadn’t really considered going the other direction: Developers porting successful iOS apps to MacOS. With the upcoming Mac app store, it makes sense that developers who’re familiar with the Apple app process might think about ways to do that.

Reeder for Mac

I use Reeder on my iPhone and iPad every day. It’s an outstanding RSS reader, both in terms of simple functionality and raw visual appeal. On my Mac, however, I’ve been using NetNewsWire for years.

When Reeder’s developer announced a Mac version of his iOS app, I was feeling more politely skeptical than anything: NetNewsWire is loaded with features and I’ve been writing AppleScript (or rb-appscript) for it for years. So I downloaded Reeder for Mac’s first beta release and fired it up.

It doesn’t offer much of anything its iOS versions don’t, and even does something I typically don’t like, which is provide textured backgrounds and a non-standard toolbar instead of simpler and more “Mac-like” interface elements. Like its iOS cousin (and NNW), it syncs with Google reader, which is a great feature for any RSS app.

I expected I’d probably switch back to NNW after an hour or two, but that hasn’t been the case: It’s true that Reeder doesn’t offer a number of the features NNW does, but it’s also true that I read a lot more feeds on my iPhone or iPad than I do on my Mac, and Reeder’s sharing menu (which supports services I use like Instapaper, Pinboard) is perfectly adequate. It causes me to look at some of the scripts I’ve written and the functionality I thought represented some baseline standard for an RSS reader and wonder if I haven’t been very, very silly.

So in this case the simplicity of iOS has shaped my expectations for a desktop app. I’m sure there are classes of apps where that probably won’t ever happen — mail clients and text editors spring to mind — but it makes me wonder what else might work better when inspired by the more stripped down aesthetic of iOS apps than the “there’s a menu item for that” approach of desktop apps, and how many features I thought I needed that will seem sort of silly when I can compare apps coming from the two platforms side by side.

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