RSS Feeds and Safari 6: Progress in the End.

I don’t often blog about tech, but I take some interest, particularly in Apple related matters, and while I’m  no techie I probably use my main computer more intensely, more variably and more continuously, with more awareness of basic tech issues, than the average user.  

This item is about the latest version of Safari, the native browser for  Mac computers.  It is also available for  Windows, but Apple appears to have stopped updating the Windows version, and it is less easy to find on the Apple website.  

As a regular reader of Apple related sites though my RSS feeds, I noticed early on that Apple was planning to disable RSS feeds on Safari 6, which was launched a few days ago.  I was not expecting this to be an issue before downloading Mountain Lion, the latest iteration of OS X (previously know as Mac OS X, and it is the operating system on a Mac), which was recently released, but which I won’t download until I’ve made some checks about compatibility with favourite third party apps.  Apple have released Safari 6 both for Mountain  Lion and its predecessor, Lion.  This has maybe saved me the bother of getting used to both Safari 6, and all the other features of Mountain Lion at the same time.

For those who know,and most people who use computers sadly don’t seem to know, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and is a way in which feeds from websites and blogs can be aggregated in one place, and new items show up in that place, without the need to check sites individually and frequently.  Anyone who does a lot of browsing, and a has a large set of regular sites and blogs to visit, would benefit from using RSS.  Look carefully at sites and blogs for where you can click to get RSS feeds.

Safari used to have RSS feeds in the browser, and that was a convenient way to aggregate feeds, with the advantage of an elegant Apple interface.  Safari 6 has been designed so that clicking on an RSS feed takes the user to an RSS reader outside Safari.  If no default RSS feeder has been designated then some application is opened in what looks like a random way.  To stop this, download an RSS app.  I found the best solution was Vienna, which is a reader for Mac, and can be downloaded for free  I tried the Mac App store, and downloaded the top result from RSS readers, iReader (for free fortunately), but was disappointed.  It froze on me and  just would not work, even after deleting from my applications folder and downloading again.  There is nothing unreliable about my computer and I do not have these kind of problems otherwise.  NetNewsWire is a popular reader app from outside the Mac App Store, but I found it crashed.  Vienna does not have such a great interface as Apple’s own software, but it’s good enough, is easy to use and is very reliable.  

I was irritated with Apple for disabling RSS feeds in Safari, but I’ve found since using Vienna, that I do not need to quite and relaunch Safari.  I was doing this several times a day, which is not unusual for an intensive user ( have a at least 15 tabs open in three different windows at all times), since browsers consume more and more RAM (short term memory) over time and consequently slow down, possibly slowing down other applications, since all RAM may be taken in this way.  RSS feeds obviously have a big impact on RAM, and are better out of of the browser in a dedicated application.

There is a small but noticeable number of Mac users disappointed to find that Safari 6 has disabled RSS feeds, and some have gone back to Safari 5.  I agree that the loss of the Safari interface is a drawback, but the right app for feeds will benefit overall user experience and productivity.  Different solutions will work for different people, but Vienna does have some ardent fans amongst Mac users, and it looks really good to me.  

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