February 12, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
Google has done an admirable job of converting its popular desktop services to mobile platforms, but the company hasn’t done many favors for Google Reader. Sure, there’s a mobile version of the popular RSS reader, but where’s the Android application that enhances RSS reading on a cell phone? NewsRob and Greed are two available apps that try to fill in that gap.
Though Reader Mobile is satisfactory, the NewsRob demo helps raise the expectations for what can be considered satisfactory. The interface is more appealing than Reader, and it has the ability to synchronize content for the sake of offline reading. Setting the sync to occur throughout the day can speed up the loading process when users decide to read RSS feeds. Downloaded data is stored but is cleared to conserve space.
T-Mobile G1/HTC Dream owners in markets with spotty or non-existent 3G service will enjoy this feature because it allows for offline reading. I often find myself in areas that don’t have consistent data connections, so it’s useful to find a Wi-Fi hotspot and download articles to read without interruption.
Greed also enhances Google Reader by bringing a cell phone-friendly version of the aggregator. Text is easily readable and content formatting closely mirrors Reader’s desktop view, sans frames. Gradually improving thanks to developer Fognl’s wise updates, Greed currently offers:
- Customizable notifications for feed updates
- Feeds displayed according to folder or latest updates
- Star items, open in browser, share notes, and other standard Reader features
Neither Greed nor NewsRob is perfect but both apps provide a better user experience for RSS reading. NewsRob has the advantage of full syncing by downloading feeds, but Greed provides two-way updates that automatically marks read items. It also appears to be the quicker option when users want to immediately fetch articles.
Google has yet to release or announce plans for an app that brings the full experience of Reader to Android. However, Greed and NewsRob continue to improve with strengths that may make that absence less noticeable.