Q: What are RSS feeds?
A: RSS feeds are a special file some web sites generate to provide structured access to their content. They are most frequently used by news sites, and generally provide some sort of title/headline and then a link to the main story at their site. This allows third-party apps like TopFeeder a way to display their available content and help direct users to their site. RSS feeds are shared via their URL link just like a web page; often they are indicated with the RSS feed icon:
Q: How is TopFeeder different from all of the other RSS readers out there?
A: Most readers aggregate multiple feeds into one list, and can maintain a history of prior feed contents. They are useful for keeping track of many feeds in one place. We use them for that too. But TopFeeder was built for one purpose: to let you look at the live contents of one feed quickly. This makes it easy to check out, say, current news in the world, without going through every other RSS feed you may be watching elsewhere. And it allows you to quickly switch between multiple feeds to see the headlines from different sources, whereas including all of those feeds in a normal RSS reader would probably lead to a lot of redundant content.
Q: You said there weren't ads, so why do I see ads?
A: TopFeeder itself has no advertising whatsoever. Any ads you see are from the web sites that are actually publishing the stories you are reading.
Q: How many different feeds does TopFeeder support?
A: There is no hard limit, but since you only have one list to scroll through, you should keep it reasonable.
Q: How can I tell what feed is currently loaded?
A: The name of the feed is shown at the very top of the headline list. You may need to drag the list down slightly to see it.
Q: Can I view more than one feed at a time?
A: No. The whole point of TopFeeder is to look at one feed at a time, although you can switch between them as often as you like.
Q: Can I save stories?
A: Yes. To save a story in the main list, swipe to the left and tap Save, or use the bookmark icon when viewing the story. Repeat to discard a saved story.
Q: Where are my saved stories?
A: Previously saved stories can be accessed via the special Saved Stories feed shown at the top of the select feed list.
Q: How do I get back a saved story I just discarded?
A: Unless that story is still on an active feed where you can go and save it again, well, you can’t. If this sort of inadvertent discarding is a problem for you, we suggest you leave the “Confirm Story Discards” setting turned on.
Q: How do I know when I saved a story or where it came from?
A: If you turn on full/expanded mode in your saved stories feed, the source and time you saved it is shown instead of the story summary.
Q: Can I share stories?
A: Yes, individual stories can be shared to standard iOS destinations (email, iMessage, etc.) by sliding the story left and tapping the Share button, or by the share icon while viewing the story (the button is in different places depending on whether you are in the standard reader view or Safari, but the end result is the same).
Q: Can I share an entire feed?
A: Not currently. However, you can share the URL for a particular feed by long-tapping on the entry in the Manage Feeds screen. This will copy the URL to the clipboard, which can then be pasted into your delivery method of choice.
Q: How do I get my own favorite RSS feeds into TopFeeder?
A: The easiest way is by copying the URL of that feed to the clipboard (often this can be done by long-pressing the RSS link on a web page, and then selecting copy). Once you enter the Manage Feeds screen, TopFeeder will detect the URL on the clipboard and prompt you to add it. URLs can also be manually entered in the same screen.
Q: Where can I find new RSS feeds?
A: TopFeeder has a built-in directory of common news feeds, and they can be added simply by selecting them from that master list. Many of the sites listed in the directory have additional feeds that can be accessed via the More Feeds… option. This will send you to their site to view their complete list; once there, copy the desired link to the clipboard and then return to TopFeeder to add the feed (this process should be triggered automatically). Adding a feed from any other site is done in much the same way. Usually a site will have some list of the links for the feeds they provide. If it is not easily found, searching the web for your site plus the term RSS will probably take you to it. Note that not all sites have RSS feeds, or the information they provide via them may be limited.
Q: Does TopFeeder support Atom feeds?
A: Atom feeds are a newer form of RSS feed that has so far seen fairly limited use. TopFeeder does support Atom feeds, but they have not been as extensively tested as regular RSS feeds, so some features may not work as well. If you have a particular Atom feed that you have problems with, please let us know and we will look into it.
Q: Are there any more funky FBI feeds out there?
A: Oh, yes: https://www.fbi.gov/feeds
Q: Why does a feed not have pictures and/or summaries?
A: The exact contents of RSS feeds are set by the sites that generate them. Some include links to pictures and a few sentences from the story, while others provide little more than the headlines. TopFeeder does what it can with the information provided. Note that sometimes linked pictures provided will be too small or irrelevant to display, in which case the default TopFeeder icon will remain.
Q: Why can't I switch out of headline-only mode?
A: If you are viewing a feed that does not provide any summary information (see above), TopFeeder will be locked into headline-only mode and the button to switch to the expanded mode will be disabled. We do that because there is literally nothing to see there.
Q: How does the maximum story count feature work?
A: Some feeds include a lot of stories, and sometimes you just want to focus on the newest ones. By default, TopFeeder sorts stories by the date and time attached to them, so the latest ones are at the top of the list. If you set the maximum stories count, therefore, older stories will not even be displayed. Note that some feeds are more diligent about providing this value than others; a few may tag all of the stories with the same time and otherwise provide them in no particular order. If that is the case for your favorite feed, you may want to set the maximum story count at the highest level. Note that it cannot be set above 50, as that is used to prevent the app from having problems with abnormally long or improperly formatted feeds. Most feeds are nowhere near this long anyway, though.
Q: Why do some feeds take a lot longer than others to update?
A: First, some sites are simply faster than others at serving content. Additionally, some feeds are much larger than others in terms of the number of stories included and/or the amount of detail included for each one (so they will take longer for TopFeeder to download and process). Both of these factors will greatly impact the amount of time required to display any given feed, on top of the other standard variables like how fast your internet connection is at that moment. TopFeeder’s maximum stories setting allows you to cap the number of stories processed from a given feed. However, the entire feed must be downloaded and processed to make sure that only the most recent stories are included, so this may not provide a big speed boost for many feeds.
Q: Why doesn’t my feed update?
A: Some feeds are just more reliable than others. Google News feeds in particular seem to be intermittently empty (this will be reported as an update error, even though technically TopFeeder was able to download and process the feed). Usually the sites in question will be working again after a few minutes. If a feed is particularly unreliable, you may want to consider using others. But if a feed you know to be working elsewhere isn’t working with TopFeeder, please let us know.
Q: This headline list is over a half hour old — why didn't it update?
A: If you have auto-update turned on, it only gets triggered when you launch or re-enter the app. If you are just sitting in the app when the 30 minute threshold passes, it will not update because it does not want to disrupt any use of the current story list. You can still update manually at any time by pulling down the story list until the update begins.
Q: Can I change the auto-update interval?
A: Not at the moment. The current setting of 30 minutes balances timeliness with not accessing RSS sources too frequently.
Q: Why do my read stories show as unread after I update?
A: The unread mechanism is based on the headline and timestamp of the story, since other details (like the story link) can change between feed updates. While this approach is more reliable in that respect than other characteristics, if the headline changes even a little (or an update to the article is posted) the story will be reset to unread.
Q: What do the feed stats include?
A: The feed stats shown on the select feed screen reflect the size of the actual RSS file plus any images downloaded for the headline list. These numbers do not include data usage from viewing the stories themselves. They are intended to give you a sense of how much data updating a feed consumes, as this can vary significantly — particularly in the case of feeds that provide links to large pictures in their stories. By long-pressing on any feed, you can show average values instead of ones from the last update. Also note that the time indicated is just for the initial downloading and processing of the feed; the downloading of individual story images is done in the background and is not counted in the time total.
Q: Does TopFeeder keep track of what I read?
A: As a news reader, the app necessarily keeps track of the feeds you choose to add, the individual stories you read (to show unread indicators), and other such things in order to do its job. If you enable iCloud syncing, some of this information is shared through Apple to your other devices. Beyond those functional needs, none of this information is ever passed to the TopFeeder developers or any other third parties (unless you choose to include some of it in a support email). Obviously if you share individual stories with others, that is on you. And generally speaking, anything you do over the internet can probably be tracked by somebody somewhere. Just not us.
Q: Why do the Safari story views switch me to a different screen entirely?
A: The Safari web viewer in iOS is designed to allow you to have a Safari web browsing experience without sharing any potentially sensitive details of that experience (like passwords or cookies) with app developers like us. As such, it is handled as a separate process that we have little control over. This transition back-and-forth is fairly transparent on an iPhone, but on an iPad this requires switching to a different full-screen Safari view. It also makes the normal right-side story viewing pane obsolete on an iPad. As such, we generally recommend against Safari modes on iPads for this reason.
Q: I read all of this and you still didn’t answer my question. Now what?
A: Use the links on the website or the Support section of the app to let us know. Please understand that we cannot provide feedback to you via reviews left on the App Store, so that is not a good way to get your question answered.