Whether you follow them as part of your work routine or just to read the latest posts on your favorite websites, going through RSS feeds can be quite time-consuming. The practical way to go through them and conserve time is to read the posts that seem most interesting from their titles and postpone others for later. This is obviously a manual filtering job and will tax your time daily. CleverFeed is a free Mac app that aims to automate this. As its name implies, CleverFeed sorts your feeds intelligently. It asks you to like the posts that seem most interesting to you and then tag them with keywords. The app analyzes how you tag different posts, scans their content, and finds similar ones that are likely to interest you. Its recommendations improve with time as it learns more about your reading preferences. CleverFeed imports feeds directly from your Google account so you’ll still have to use Google Reader to add new feeds or manage existing ones.
When you first launch the app, you will be asked to log into your Google Account and select at least one category of your interest. The feeds you’ve added to Google Reader will appear automatically in CleverFeed. You shouldn’t expect to see the most relevant or interesting stories from your feed when you launch the app for the first time, as it’ll need to learn about your preferences to work this way.
Once you’ve signed in, go through your feed like you normally would in Google Reader (or your RSS of choice). You will need to make one slight change to your reading habit; as you go through the feeds, click the thumbs up button to indicate when you’ve found a story that interests you.
CleverFeed will ask you to tag the item when you click the ‘like’ button. This is how you train the app to recognize the type of stories you like. The app will also add a tag or two on its own, but in our testing, the tags automatically added this way weren’t very relevant. CleverFeed goes through the text in the story to see if it matches the tags you’ve added, and to judge if it will interest you or not.
Items appear as they would in Google Reader, and all story links open in your default browser. When CleverFeed opens a link, it does not bring your browser to the front. The point here is to let you open all the links you want in background before you start reading them. Stories in CleverFeed can be shared on Facebook and Google+, or emailed.
From the few items that we did tag, CleverFeed brought up reasonably related stories based on them, and this should only improve with time as the app learns more about our preferences. The app is currently in Beta so its recommendations might not be flawless for now. When it comes to the interface, CleverFeed is rather bland, and the feed viewing pane can do with considerable improvement. At present, the UI isn’t optimized for reading, especially if you have a small screen. Also, text sticks to the right edge of the window at times, giving the impression that it’s been cut off. Furthermore, there is no zoom function or option to increase the font size, which can make reading difficult for people with vision impairments.