August 25, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Google has its hands in virtually every sector of tech possible, but many of those efforts don’t have official clients made for Android. It’s a common complaint for Android users that Google Reader is inexplicably one such occasion in which the only option is to turn to a third-party app to read and manage your RSS feeds.
Thankfully, there are a variety of third-party options for managing RSS feeds and meets your needs. As part of our Droid vs. Droid series, we decided to take a look at some of the most notable such apps. I’m sure you love reading RSS feeds – including Androinica.com’s, wink, wink – so let’s take a look at apps that have Google Reader integration.
GReader is shamelessly Apple-ish, so any Mac aficionado will feel right at home using it. Articles render quickly, formatting is good, and browsing is great for being able to read abbreviated feeds in full within the app. People with large feed lists may find trouble navigating the app, however. GReader doesn’t allow reading items in a folder at once, forcing readers to scan one feed at a time. For people who follow news from a large number of sources and choose to organize by folder, this is a potential deal breaker. The paid version removes ads and adds theme support.
Best for: People who want a stable reader with a light interface
A Good Reader
A Good Reader is an RSS reader that somewhat lies in its name. The Reader sync is woefully slow, taking a long time to refresh feeds and even longer to sync back to Google Reader. But if you have a small list of feeds and only need to track a handful of sites, A Good Reader can make up for it in a simple design.
Best for: People who only have a few feeds to track
If there’s a feature that you want, NewsRob has it and has implemented it well. NewsRob has offline support to make it easier to read downloads when you lose a data connection, including periodic downloads that are automatic. The app also syncs quickly, has a clean interface, plenty of sharing options, and meets the needs of almost everyone who uses Reader.
Best for: People who wants everything and love easy navigation
Leave the long list of articles behind and view your RSS feeds in a different manner. FeedSquares creates boxes of articles, showing a small thumbnail along with titles. This creates an alternative interface that’s enjoyable to use though sometimes annoying when attempting to star items or perform batch actions. However, it does have the benefit of data compression.
Best for: People who like images more than words
Greed is designed for people who want all the features but not all the clutter. It has several sharing options, the ability to read all of the items within a particular label at once, can handle embedded audio files, and a “Where Was I?” feature that will bring up the last item read during a previous session. The free version has ads, so pay the extra $1.99 if possible and get rid of them with the unlock key.
Best for: Readers who share, love features, and want speed.
Pulse News Reader
Pulse News Reader is all about the visual. Similar to FeedSquare, news items are displayed with thumbnails. There is a very cool sliding mechanism for scrolling through feeds or side-swiping to the next article. Pulse also includes well-formatted article posts and the ability to open links in the browser when necessary. However, the app inexcusably limits users to following only 20 feeds at a time. The developers promise to increase that cap, but current conditions make it unusable for most RSS power readers.
Best for: People who literally need 20 or less feeds and enjoy a visual presentation
ReaderScope doesn’t have the most beautiful look but it gets the job done. And that’s what’s most important, right? ReaderScope supports offline reading, searching through the feeds, and moves through articles up and down. It’s also the most social since it supports sharing to Google Reader, Del.icio.us, Twitter, SMS and the Android Share function.
Best for: Highly-social and search-happy users
This comparison purposely selected only the apps that have support for Google Reader. Yet, ironically, not all of the apps support sharing directly to Google Reader. That, coupled with limited features, makes me believe that the best options are Greed or NewsRob. You designophiles can keep your trendy FeedSquares and Pulse; the people who just want the news and want it delivered quickly should only consider the aforementioned apps. But which of those two is best? For what’s it’s worth, I rate NewsRob as the best RSS reader but it’s tough to warrant spending so much money on the app, especially if your home nation’s currency is weaker than the Euro. (Thankfully, the app comes with a free ad version that includes most of the Pro features).
If you want features, get NewsRob Lite and you’ll probably love it. If you want features but don’t want to pay such a high price to get rid of ads, you will be more than satisfied with Greed.