Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mobile RSS - Update

A few weeks ago, I started using Newsgator Go! to read my RSS feeds while commuting. (You already know that I love RSS, even if you don't use it). My impression of it: meh.

Newsgator Go! has a few major usability issues for me.

First, the web-based Newsgator is not a good experience in my opinion. I don't like the interface, it's just not as intuitive as Google Reader. The other option is to use a desktop-based application. The desktop application for mac, NetNewsWire is fine, and does sync with the server, so multiple instances would reconcile without issue, but it just isn't ideal for me. I ended up creating a feed from a specific tag in google reader that would be just for articles I planned to read on the subway. So, maybe I didn't give the web reader enough of a chance, but I don't see why I should. I'm generally pretty good with the computer, so I think if I don't like it, there's probably a good reason.

Second, the application does not download stories automatically. So, I have to check each of the RSS feeds before I got on the subway each time, if I want to read them. No thanks. That is something that obviously could run in the background automatically.

I do have to admit that NewsGator has some advanced functionality that could be totally cool. The Smart Feeds seem like a very useful feature. Signing up for email newsletters, but having them come to the feed reader would be nice. I deliberately don't sign up for those things now because I don't want my inbox clogged up. But, in my experience, if there exists an email newsletter, there often exists an RSS feed with that same content anyways.

The NewsGator products also do a good job of giving you 'location-specific' options. You can choose which feeds show up where. So, if I wanted to, I could limit NewsGator Go! to have only my 'to read' feed while having the desktop client show all of them.

So, if NewsGator Go! was the only option out there, it would be serviceable. However, (!) the Wall Street Journal put out a mobile RSS reader. Now, this is a product that I like. For one, it gives me free access to WSJ content. Plus, it easily let me import my 'to read' items from Google Reader. It's still not ideal, but at least it updates automatically. And, overall, the program just seems more responsive.

Interesting to note: FreeRange Communications powers both programs, so I'm not sure why they are not more similar. But, I imagine that has something to do with server capacity, syncing, etc.

One thing to note with both of these products is that there does not seem to be a way to let them know that I have a microSD card in my Curve. This means that my memory gets full quickly and I've experienced a weird disappearance of text messages and emails. You can change the options about how many articles these programs should download and keep, but it's still a bit of a swag. Some tips on how to deal with this are here.

If you've given any of these things a try, let me know (in the comments, ideally).

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