Now that Google Reader users are looking for a replacement, we wanted to highlight Omea, a desktop-based reader and organizer for RSS and newsfeeds that has some unique features that are not typically available in other RSS aggregators.
It was designed to organize every bit of information that comes across your desktop, including emails, bookmarks, newsfeeds, notes, contacts, IM chats and even your desktop files, and interact with them from a single interface.
Omea failed to gain a lot of traction when it was originally released and may have been a victim of the scope of it’s ambitions, at a time when email, note-taking, RSS clients, and the like were migrating from the desktop to the cloud. It comes two flavors: Omea Reader and Omea Pro, both of which are now freeware.
Omea was built on a plugin architecture, whereby you could use the MS Outlook plugin, for example, in order to import your mail into Omea, or install a Firefox plugin to clip web content within that browser, etc. However, because development of these plugins has stopped, you are left to hope that the legacy plugins still work with newer versions of Outlook or Firefox (the latter in fact does not), and you may not find support for newer apps and browsers (e.g. Chrome). If you’re a developer, you can customize Omea to your needs via it’s open API.
Omea Reader vs. Omea Pro: if you just want RSS and News Reader functionality, go with Omea Reader. Omea Pro includes support for a lot more sources of information, including email integration with Outlook, IM integration, integration with Windows Explorer, and the like. Although this article is about Omea as an RSS reader/aggregator, in the wake of the imminent closure of Google Reader; our screenshots and writeup are based on Omea Pro.
6 things I really like about Omea:
1. Apply tags to individual feeds or individual articles
This is something I looked for for a very long time in numerous online and desktop aggregators, and only found it here. Your tags, which are called ‘categories’, can also be applied to notes, files, and other elements that Omea can handle. See screenshot below.
2. Will let you attach a note to any article at will, or create a clipping from it’s contents
Once you add a note, it will appear as a floating box whenever you view the article. The text in the note is searchable AND you can filter by articles that are annotated.
A clipping, on the other hand, is a note made out of highlighted text, that can be tagged and searched later on, etc.
3. Powerful feed filtering and advanced search
Similar to ‘smart playlists’ in media players, Omea lets you filter by various parameters, including time period (today/yesterday/this week/etc) as well as your custom tags (screenshot below left)
Omea’s advanced search can simultaneously search RSS feeds as well as notes, emails, and everything else (including filenames on your PC that may exist in folders that you are monitoring).
4. Will download and display comments under each blog post (without leaving the reader)
Click on the little ‘plus’ icon next to article and you get an overview of all comments made in that article, which you can read right on the spot without leaving the reader.
5. Will monitor folders on your PC, and let you preview and/or tag them
Your files can have the same tagging system that you use for articles and everything else, and belong to one informational ecosystem. Note that this is a feature of Omea Pro not Omea Reader (both are free).
6. Supports multiple workspaces
Such that your work RSS feeds/files/notes/etc. can live in a different page than your personal items, etc. You can even choose which resources to include in each workspace (e.g. you can remove ‘contacts’, ‘notes’ or whatever from a workspace if you’re not interested in having them).
Omea has aged and shows it, but it has some very unique features that you don’t see in too many desktop or online RSS aggregators, and it is very well suited for the obsessive RSS researcher/blogger types (like yours truly) who are interested in tagging, organizing, and annotating information.
It does lack some features; for example, a ‘Send to Instapaper/Pocket/Facebook/Twitter/etc’ functionality, which in theory you could add if you are a developer willing and able to build a plugin for it. It also insists on opening links/URLs inline in it’s own internal IE based browser, which I didn’t mind but wished there was another option offered as well. It is also desktop based, of course, which means that you cannot access your feeds on your mobile device unless you use another tool. I don’t really care too much about this because I see Omea is as an information organizing tool rather than a casual reader.
Omea just may be the best desktop-based RSS aggregator out there. It’s loaded with features and very powerful under the hood. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Go here to download Omea Reader and Omea Pro (Windows). Note that both are now FREEWARE.