There are a plethora of Google Reader clients for Android, my favorite after trying many being Newsrob though Pulse has a bigger following, and Google finally made their own a few months back. Lacking in some areas and good in others with users articulating their impressions to Google, Google released a new and rather improved version of it, one that’s now worth mentioning.

Google Reader for Android aims to recreate the look and feel of the actual Google Reader on the web. It orders up your folders and individual feeds the same way you’ve got them on the web version, you can read individual feeds, all feeds from a folder you may have created or just get a list of all of your feeds and plow through it. Helpful, I have 80. Within each article you can star, like share, note, email, tag, keep unread – the same deal as on your computer and you can tell it whether to sync on its own or not.

Chief improvement in this version, syncing for offline use. And widgets for you widget lovers.

But I’d enabled that syncing last night, just threw my phone on airplane mode and I’m only getting twenty articles per feed and label, no images. What’s up with that? The syncing option offers to download frequently viewed feeds for offline use, but apparently it’s not figuring out what I view frequently from the cloud and twenty articles a feed just doesn’t cut it. Maybe if I used it for a while it would sync better? Still not too impressive.

Especially when you compare it to something like Newsrob. Top advantage of Google Reader, simplicity – passes the Mom test. Chief disadvantage of Newsrob, not free. But with Newsrob you can get under the hood as deeply as you want including specifying not only how many articles to download for offline use but whether to just download the articles, the images too, a simplified web page so you don’t get truncated articles from sites that truncate their feeds to get you on their site or the original page from the site, javascript on or off, notifications, and you can do that globally or for individual feeds or individual labels.

You can invert the colors to dark mode, you can specify offline syncing all the time or when only on wifi, intervals, flash on or off or on demand, how many to hold onto up to a thousand plus 500 of anything you starred plus 200 shared plus 200 noted (1900 total) and where to store the articles, whether to use Google’s mobilzer, you name it.

Now Mom doesn’t need all that shit but I do. How do you think I read Google’s Google Reader reader’s recent improvements from Google’s Google Reader Official Blog? Newsrob. Read the reader comments too because I download the full web pages behind the Google blogs’ articles. Half the stuff you see from me comes from Newsrob inspiration I get reading on the toilet or in the subway. I’m a power reader baby. That said, if I gave Newsrob to Mom anyway, it wouldn’t spook her, she wouldn’t need to dig through the options menu or see what happens if you longpress something. She wouldn’t need to manually add her own RSS feeds in addition to whatever she’s got on Google Reader, but she has that option with Newsrob.

Other than a slightly less Googly feel and not being free at a hefty €1.99 (though there is a free version with ads – well targeted ads too), there’s no downside of Newsrob over Google Reader either for you or for yo momma. Actually wait, wrong about that, Newsrob’s widgets only give you unread counts, they don’t scroll article titles. Perhaps that’s a dealbreaker for Mom. Or for you. So use both!

Doug Simmons

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