In the last few years, we have come across many applications claiming to provide the best feed reading experience on the desktop. Personally, I have seen countless of them but none are actually usable. Today, after much searching, I came across Espresso Reader. Not only is it usable but is also visually appealing, easy to use, and has almost every functionality that a user would expect. It is also the first 3rd party desktop Google Reader application that I actually plan on using.
Espresso Reader is an Adobe Air application, which means it can work on Windows, Linux, and Mac, provided you have Adobe Air installed. Developed by Arpit and Alex, the first public release was launched earlier this month.
It looks like a simple desktop Google Reader app but is much more than what meets your eye. To begin, enter the Google username and password to sign in, you will also find an option to sign in to twitter (this is needed to share interesting articles with your followers).
The application has two view modes – List and Magazine. On the left sidebar you will find all folders and subscriptions in tree view. Click any folder to expand and list all subscriptions inside it.
The main interface has three sub-sections, the left section is where all articles of any subscription are listed, the middle section is where the content of these articles is displayed, and the right section shows similar stories or items. These sections can also be called sidebars.
The similar stories or related items sidebar is very handy. Most stories are covered by multiple blogs and if you are following them, you will find lots of duplicate content. Espresso will load all feeds ahead of time in the local database, parse them to find all duplicate content, and then finally show them as related stories in the related items sidebar.
The magazine view is beautifully executed, select any folder or subscription and it will list all articles on the main interface. As for now, it only displays text. Photos in magazine view is one of the many features the developers are working on to include in the next release.
In both List and Magazine view, there are options to share items on Google Reader or Twitter.
Navigating through your feeds in Google Reader is a headache, especially when you have hundreds of feeds to follow daily. Espresso solves this problem by offering “Quick Jump”. At any time while using this application, hit spacebar and you will find the quick search textbox which will let you instantly jump to the folder or feed in your subscriptions. Did we mention that it also supports keyboard navigation?
By default, the application starts in List view and only shows updated feeds, or in other words, feeds which are unread. To view all subscriptions, change the mode to All Feeds, as shown in the screenshot below.
Being the first public release, the developers have only included the core features. They plan to add a lot more in the upcoming releases, including, offline access, photos in magazine view, the choice of opening the link in the integrated web browser (also coming in next release) or the default browser, ability to add new feeds or move them to different folders, and much more.
Below is the quick video demonstration showing the basic usage.
EspressoReader takes anywhere from 60MB to 95MB of system memory. Being an Adobe Air application, this is expected and should be fine for most users, but we believe the memory usage should remain below 50MB.
While it supports all OS where Adobe Air installed, testing was done on Windows 7 32-bit and we found it to be working seamlessly.