Regarding Readability

by Ben Ubois

Readability is shutting down and that means making a few changes to Feedbin.

Readability offered two services both named Readability.

  1. A read-it-later/Instapaper type of service. Feedbin offered an integration to let you easily add links to your Readability account. This has been removed from Feedbin.
  2. A parser API. Feedbin used this service to provide the full content of partial-content feeds. This functionality will continue to exist in Feedbin, but powered by Diffbot.

For now I’ve chosen Diffbot to fill in for the functionality that Readability’s parser API provided. Diffbot’s data is great. The whole company is focused on offering a suite of products that extract useful information from webpages and has a simple subscription business model so I’m optimistic that it will only improve.

I looked at a few alternatives to Diffbot, including some open-source projects and Mercury. Ultimately Diffbot’s solid data and presence of a business model made it the easy choice.

I’m planning on leaving the Readability icon in-place. Readability’s parser functionality is tough to convey in an icon, and I think that taking advantage of the brand recognition of Readability makes sense for now. Also, I like to think of it as a small homage.

Readability was a great product that Feedbin relied on for years. It will be missed!


It turned out that DiffBot did not offer the performance necessary for this feature. It’s been updated to use Mercury Web Parser. Also the icon has been updated to:

Feed Toolbar

by Ben Ubois

Feed Toolbar

The feed toolbar makes it easy to perform common feed actions including:

  1. Renaming
  2. Tagging
  3. Unsubscribing

The feed toolbar can be accessed by clicking on the feed title above the article.

This way when you’re browsing unread articles you don’t have to go hunting for a specific feed in the sidebar when you want to make a change.

Finally, the feed toolbar creates a way to rename feeds on a mobile device.

Subscribe to Email Newsletters in Feedbin

by Ben Ubois

You can now receive email newsletters in Feedbin.

Newsletter Subscriptions

To use this feature, go to the settings page and find your secret Feedbin email address. Use this email address whenever you sign up for an email newsletter. Anything sent to it will show up as a feed in Feedbin, grouped by sender.

Reading email in an email app feels like work to me. However, there’s a certain class of email that I want to enjoy reading, and Feedbin is where I go when I want to read for pleasure.

For example, many great websites offer subscription content, usually with an email newsletter component. Not only do I enjoy the premium content from these sites, but I believe this a great way forward for people to support writers. Personally I have paid subscriptions to four of these including:

This feature is also great for mailing lists and product announcement emails and since it’s just a regular feed, it will sync with your favorite native app as well.

Feedbin Notifier vs. Notify by Facebook

by Ben Ubois

Today, Notify by Facebook was released. Conceptually, this is a similar app to Feedbin Notifier, which was released two days ago. The timing is coincidental but still interesting.

Left: Feedbin Notifier. Right: Notify by Facebook.

A similar coincidence happened when Feedbin launched, which is that two days later Google announced they were shutting down Reader. Weird timing.

In my mind, Feedbin Notifier offers many advantages over Notify. The biggest reason to choose Feedbin Notifier is that it works with any source that offers an RSS feed, while Facebook has a limited number of built in sources.

Feature Feedbin Notifier Notify by Facebook
Sources Anything with an RSS feed 72
Apple Watch App Yes No
Read offline Yes No
Spotlight Integration Yes No
Sync Yes No
Privacy Yes LOL
Price $3/mo Free

This comparison is obviously biased. However, it is worth pointing out that Notify costs nothing, while Notifier only works with a paid Feedbin subscription.

I think that having a large free competitor like this validates the idea. It also creates a market for a premium, more fully-featured version, which is what Feedbin Notifier is. Competing with Free is nothing new, it’s what Feedbin has been doing since day one.

Feedbin Notifier for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch

by Ben Ubois

There are already many great full-featured apps that work with Feedbin. Feedbin Notifier aims to be different.

Feedbin Notifier is a notifications based reader. The idea is to select the handful of feeds or keywords you care about most. Then when Feedbin matches an article, it will send a push notification to your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, keeping you informed throughout the day.

This way, Notification Center becomes the primary interface for catching up on the stories that are important to you. You’ll see articles along side your email and other notifications allowing tell at a glance if there’s anything you want to read right away.

Feedbin is a free universal app for iPhone, iPad and the Apple Watch. On the Apple Watch you can read full articles right away or for a better reading experience use Handoff to continue reading on your iPhone or iPad.

Hope you enjoy it! Would love to hear your feedback.

Image Previews

by Ben Ubois

Feedbin now features image previews in the center column.

Feedbin, now with more images.

The most important thing to me when building this feature was that only images that are reasonably high quality would show up here. To do this Feedbin uses a set of criteria that an image must meet in order to be chosen.

Feedbin can find a variety of images including:

One of my favorite operations that Feedbin does to ensure the quality of these image previews is facial detection using OpenCV. By getting a rough idea about where faces in an image might be, Feedbin is able to get a better crop. I first saw this idea used in Twitterrific and loved the results.

Crop with face detection. Sample image from The Great Discontent.
Crop without face detection. Sample image from The Great Discontent.

Adding images is a big visual change and if you prefer the old look you can turn off image previews in the Appearance settings.

Link Opener for Chrome

by Ben Ubois

This official extension restores the ability for Chrome users to open article links in a background tab using a configurable keyboard shortcut.

Previously this was possible without an extension, however the Chrome team recently removed this feature.

The default shortcut to open a link is option/alt + v. This can be customized in Chrome’s Keyboard Shortcuts for Extensions and Apps page.

The extension is open source and ideas for improvements are welcome.

An extension for Safari is not necessary because WebKit still supports the browser API to create background tabs.

Update: Martijn van der Ven has created a FireFox version of this extension. Thanks Martijn!

Easy Tagging with Drag and Drop

by Ben Ubois

Adding and removing a tag via drag and drop

This is a much improved way of tagging your feeds. Click on a feed and drag it to the tag you want. To remove a tag, drag the feed onto the main feeds list. Easy!

Never Miss an Update With the new Updated Section

by Ben Ubois

Articles are frequently updated after being published, but once you’ve already read an article how would you know when new content was added?

The new Updated section aims to solve this problem.

Articles will appear in the Updated section if:

  • You’ve already read the article
  • More than 50 characters have been added since you last read the article

Not all feeds have meaningful updates, so there is also a way to turn off updates for a feed on the Feed Settings page.

Click on the clock icon to toggle updates

Feedbin also has an improved method for checking if an article has been updated. If there is any change in the length of an article, Feedbin will update the article. Previously it relied on the <updated> tag which was not always available.

Easy Feed and Tag Renaming

by Ben Ubois

Renaming a Feed

There’s a new quick way to rename feeds and tags.

  1. Double click on a feed or tag to edit the text.
  2. Press return to save the change.

Thanks to Toby Foster for contributing this feature!