On my PC, I love using Google Reader to aggregate my RSS feeds. I used to have (it’s probably still current) a paid-for copy of “NewGator” and I’ve tried several other alternatives, but the one that just worked the way I do was the Google product.
When I started using my new Torch BlackBerry device I noted that it had a “Social Feeds” application that really isn’t up to the standard that I felt RIM’s other, similar applications are. i.e. Facebook, Twitter and BB/Enterprise Messenger – all of which I use and like. This integrated tool while sporting some of my criteria for a good RSS reader, fell quite short of the mark.
What I am looking for:
- Syncs with Google Reader (I don’t want to have to figure out where I left off on a feed whenever I move to a different platform – It might not have to be Google’s product, but I want multiplatform synching)
- Removes read articles (or at least hides them)
- Notifies me when new articles are available
- Caches the articles / information on the BlackBerry rather than making me wait for each article while I’m reading them. Or at least intelligently caches the next few while I’m reading the current one so I can zip through them at my speed, not AT&T’s.
- Same as above for pictures associated with the articles – I have an unlimited data plan, *some* extra bandwidth consumption is an OK price to keep up the reading momentum.
- Shows me an abstract and lets me easily open the full article if I decide to move forward.
I’ve had Viigo on my various BlackBerrys for a while now. It was OK but there were a lot of flaws that I finally grew weary of working around:
- Every time I updated Viigo I would have to re-enter my credentials (they tend to update a lot)
- Also it would lose my feed position and everything would show as unread again on each update
- Before I got my “touch” device it was a pain navigating because they were unable to navigate a page at a time using the space bar like every other app on the BlackBerry
- With my Torch I find that every article is just a little too big to view on the screen and I have to “pinch” EVERY ONE OF THEM before reading – even in landscape mode
- If I follow any link in a Viigo article, I can not get back to the article, I have to close it, and open a previous one, *then* open the original one. And I’m not where I left off but back at the top (needing to pinch it again)
- Viigo never seemed to actually do anything in the background even though that’s how I had it configured so feeds only updated when I re-opened the app
- There were far too many layers in Viigo, most of which I never used but had to navigate through and I can’t get rid of them. I think there were a lot of plans to expand that never really took off.
So Viigo is not really very efficient for RSS reading.
So I downloaded the latest version of BerryReader. I heard good things about this app’s ability to sync with Google Reader. But I found the interface absolutely useless – certainly no touch ability – but I found it really didn’t work for me at all. It *did* seem to sync with Google so I’ll give it that much.
I went to try out “Feeds” but they have no free trial, so even though I have heard good things about it I don’t try ANYTHING on my BlackBerry anymore without a trial. Too many apps are designed to work only in very niche ways that you either love or hate. That’s kind of why there are so many apps out there for all these devices.
I then tried “Unread” (cute play on current zombie craze I believe) and it was certainly better than BerryReader, but took a long time to load up (I only have 118 subscriptions). It actually nicely mirrored the subscriptions (folders/labels) of my Google Reader, but it was cumbersome in that it can’t hide stuff you’ve already seen. So each time I open it I end up wading through a bunch of stuff I’ve already read before. I had other issues with it but I was basically just frustrated by this point
So I opened the Google Reader URL and, now that I have the new Web Kit Browser that comes with OS 6, it’s actually pretty good. It automatically figures out that you’re on a mobile so no need to figure out a special URL for it. One really nice thing is, besides being 100% synchronized with Google Reader (because it *is* Google Reader) most of the features that I am looking for are part of this package. Of course I’d still prefer to have a dedicated app that integrated with my message application so that I can see when new items become available, and I still have to retrieve everything live, but so far no other app has stepped up and distinguished itself as being superior to Google’s free offering.
So color me satisfied. I’ll check again in another 6 months or so to see if anything has improved, but this seems to be a vastly underrepresented corner of the app market.