How NetNewsWire 6 Could Change the Way You Read News

Death to conspiracy theories and lies

Key Takeaways

  • NetNewsWire 6.0 is a newsreader app for iPad and iPhone.
  • Follow any website, Twitter account, or Reddit thread.
  • NetNewsWire is 100% algorithm-free, for zero-outrage reading.
A person reading news on an iPad sitting outside,

Unsplash / Mockup Photos

NetNewsWire is out for iPad and iPhone, and it could change the way you read the news. 

NetNewsWire (NNW) is a newsreader app that lets you follow any website without Twitter or Facebook in the middle skimming your activity data. All your subscriptions sync privately, via iCloud, or most popular web-based RSS services. But the point here is that it's your news, your way. NNW is completely anti-algorithm. It’s an antidote to the engagement-via-rage model of social networks. 

"The algorithms optimize for engagement because engagement is how you maximize ad revenue," NNW owner Brent Simmons told Lifewire via direct message. "What gets people really engaged is outrage—which means the algorithms are dividing us into angry tribes in the interest of profit."

The News

Almost every website and blog makes its new articles available as a machine-readable feed, called an RSS feed. Newsreader apps check these feeds and show you all the latest articles from all the sites you follow, all in one place, beautifully formatted, and easy to read. It’s the most civilized way to stay up to date with your favorite sites. Here’s the pitch from the NNW site:

"If you’ve been getting your news via Facebook—with its ads, algorithms, user tracking, outrage, and misinformation—you can switch to NetNewsWire to get news directly and more reliably from the sites you trust."

Someone looking at a news feed on an iPhone.

Unsplash / Mockup Photos

NNW, one of the oldest RSS readers, recently was reborn as an open-source project run by original owner Simmons. It’s numbered as version 6, but really it’s brand new. NNW is fast, looks great, is fast, and offers some unique features. Also, I may have forgotten to mention, it’s really fast.

In addition to following the latest stories from websites, NNW can also follow individual Twitter accounts and Subreddits. Then, all your subscriptions sync via iCloud, so they are available on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. You can also sign in to popular RSS services like Newsblur, Feedbin, and so on and sync that way. 


This is not new. RSS readers have existed for decades. You may remember Google Reader, which was just another RSS reader. But today, they’re more important than ever, as our news diet is curated not around information but around engagement. Facebook and Twitter are designed to keep us using Facebook and Twitter. 

"NetNewsWire lets people pick and choose their own sources of news—they don’t need to follow the outrage pointers into conspiracy theories and lies," says Simmons. "NetNewsWire is a reminder that we don’t have to put up with closed platforms and controlled news. Our goal is to make a dent, however small—we’re under no illusions—in the use of those giant social media companies."

Someone using NetNewsWire 6 on an iPad while sitting outside. / Mockup Photos

This sounds idealistic, and it is. But using a reader like NNW is also just a better experience. You see stories—and Tweets—in the order they are published. And these articles stick around until you read them, like email only interesting, instead of flowing by in a river that constantly makes you feel like you can’t keep up.

"NetNewsWire is a reminder that we don’t have to put up with closed platforms and controlled news," says Simmons. "Our goal is to make a dent, however small—we’re under no illusions—in the use of those giant social media companies.”

The only downside of reading articles like this is that it’s hard to start a conversation about them. In the early days of blogs, if you wanted to comment on a blog post, you wrote a blog post of your own. Today, few people maintain blogs, and we expect more immediate, easier-to-see connections.

There have been experiments trying to link comments between sites, but they are either too hard to understand (, or they fade away. On the other hand, the quality of such conversations on Twitter is pretty low, so perhaps we’re not missing much.

"We’re not going to stop the algorithms," says Simmons. "But NetNewsWire’s existence is proof, to anyone willing to notice, that people don’t need the algorithms—and, in fact, we’re better off without them."

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