G1 Apps: Newsrob, Google Reader on Android

android rss

UPDATE: Since Google closed down Google Reader, Newsrob became useless.

Accessing Google Reader on the g1 has always been a low-on-adrenalin experience, which is surprising since the Reader should be a central product that Google should push forward in their app ecosystem: It connects people to content, and it also connects people around content. The best Google Reader alternative for me until recently was the mobile site accessible through the browser. This option had a few flaws:

  • If you leave the greader mobile page to open a new browser window, you will lose the items you were reading because newer feeds will be automatically loaded when you come back on the reader’s page. It is a barrier to visiting a blog to leave a comment on an article for example.
  • The loading time (loading new feeds, browsing feed folders…) is extremely long and irritating when you are on the go and you need to feed your brain with as much news as possible. Also, it only loads 15 items at a time.
  • You cannot use your phone social sharing features to select which social network you want to share a specific feed item with. I use Friendfeed to share my shared items with my Twitter followers, but sometimes I want to share content with my Facebook friends, and that’s a pain to do from the greader mobile site.

newsrob google reader android

And then Newsrob came along. Newsrob is a free app for Android to access and interact with your Google Reader account. Here are all the great features of Newsrob:

  1. It synchronizes automatically (and in the background) with your Google Reader account.
  2. You can load content and read it while offline.
  3. You can download the feed content, but you can also set it to download the actual Web page where the feed was sourced. You can customize this feature on a per-feed basis.
  4. You can set where the content is cached (saved temporarily) on your phone, and how much should be cached.
  5. You can enable notifications on a per-feed basis (notification, flash LED or vibration settings).
  6. You can star, share, view in the browser or mark unread.
  7. You can also share feed items through your phone’s social sharing features (send to Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, send as SMS…)
  8. You can jump to the previous or next item simply by pressing on the right or left side of your screen, where arrows appear if you long-press first.

I think Newsrob just nailed how people should access and interact with their feeds online. While subscribing to feeds remains an art of the geekdome (maybe Facebook will slowly change that), reading feeds with Newsrob is accessible to just anyone. In terms of app usability, I love how easy and fast it is to jump from one folder to another.