Review: News Feeds for BlackBerry

BlackBerry News Feeds
By Joseph Holder on 20 Dec 2010 04:00 pm EST
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Last week, Research in Motion released its News Feeds to the United States and Canada. In March of 2010, RIM acquired app maker Viigo; makers of the number one RSS reader apps. News Feeds seems to be the first direct fruits of that effort. The app is very reminiscent of the Viigo news reader; you can even import your Viigo news feeds into the new app. 

Though the app works well and new feeds are simple to add, it lacks the visual appeal that newer OS6 applications have. The Social Feeds app does a much better job of presenting and navigating news feeds. But then again, not everyone can run OS6 on their device. For these people, News Feeds is a quality piece of software. For others, the simplistic style and stoic visuals will be a turn-off.

News Reader and adding feeds 

Adding feeds in News Feeds is made easy by a searchable list of news feeds. Just type in what you want to search for, and you'll get a long list of news feeds. Feeds are also organized into categories. Kudos to RIM for including CrackBerry.com and other blog feeds right at the top of the list in the BlackBerry category. No list can contain every RSS feed, so new feeds can be added by entering the feed URL in the search box.

In contrast, adding new feeds to Social Feeds is both more difficult and much easier. Social Feeds does not provide a searchable, categorized list of feeds. All you can do is enter a URL. Where Social Feeds shines is its ability to add feed directly from pages in the web browser. This feature is only available in OS6 and may not be possible in OS Five. Still, it makes things a lot easier when you don't have to copy and paste.

News Feeds Vs. Social Feeds

I really like the ability to know what news items I have and have not read. It's one of the things missing from Social Feeds. News Feeds handles this and will even alert you when new news items have been loaded. But this functionality comes with a bit of limitation. News Feeds will display up to two lines of the article title in the feed view. To me, this actually results in a cluttered display; since there are no favicons (those little icon identifiers that websites use) and all of the titles are the same size. Visually, it's difficult to tell where one article ends and another begins.

Finally, there's no swiping. Now granted, users on BlackBerry OS versions 4.6 - 5.0 generally don't swipe through their messages. Those who have been getting accustomed to OS6, will find it sorely missing. Swiping left and right to access the next and previous news item or feed is something I've become addicted to. It makes sense. Swipe instead of backing out of the article and selecting the next one in the list.

For users of BlackBerry OS 4.6 - 5.0, News Feeds should be a welcome upgrade from previous Viigo versions. The app handles RSS feeds in a simple - but effective - manner. But for me, having become accustomed to using the RSS feeds in Social Feeds, News Feeds seems a step in the wrong direction.

If RIM would build an RSS reader that combines the read/unread messages, the grouping of articles by feeds, and the searchable index of News Feeds with the visual style and "swipiness" of Social Feeds, that would be my ultimate reader. Throw in access to Google Reader, and they'd really have themselves a winner. What do you think? What do you look for in an RSS news reader? Comments are now open.

BlackBerry News Feeds is available to many devices running OS 4.6+ in the United States and Canada.

More information/download News Feeds from BlackBerry App World

32 comments

theninjasquad

I refuse to use this because it won't sync with Google Reader.

Yousif Abdullah

Viigo is dead, long live Viigo!

P.S. This piece of I-should-not-say-out-loud that portrays itself as a BlackBerry application, does not support WiFi. Considering that all current BlackBerry smartphones do have WiFi, this is something very inexcusable. And knowing RIM, this won't change – despite being a beta.

Peace,
Yousif.

AgentScribe

Wow, buddy. Harsh (but probably true).

MaxPayne79

I don't know what phone you're using, but this works just fine on my 9700 running OS6 wia WiFi. Maybe you're running OS5? But under 6 it works fine.

AJErvin12

Works fine for me on OS6 as well. I just turned off the Mobile Network and it syncs and I can still read articles using WiFi.

greatness10

When you click "full article" it redirects you using the browser. That is complete JUNK! Viigo keeps you in the app and runs so much smoother. Until then, i will not make the switch.

abdul

What ever happened to Viigo? Why don't RIM just update Viigo and make ti a better app.

AgentScribe

I'm perfectly content using reading my Google Reader feeds via the Google App app. I prefer Web-based applications to the self-contained, stand alone apps. And, I'm learning, I'm more content having fewer push notifications than more. I have trained myself to turn off non-important alerts and have become so much more productive! ;) I still love my Torch though.

Mwanahabari

Wow! Yet again, RIM sticks two fingers up at all users outside North America. Just like the podcast app, if they do let the rest of us have it, they will probably disable it so we have to sync it using the computer, making the very essence of having a mobile app irrelevent.
If RIM continues to show such disrespect to their non American and Canadian users, then I hope they are not surprised when users in those countries begin to decline.

mam

I would actually be ok with this app if there was a way to delete all prior items (or even more than one at a time). But, not being able to quickly clear a while feed without deleting it and adding it back is a deal-breaker.

buckken

I agree, this will keep me away from this. When you have 20-50 items you wish to delete, its simply impossible. THe only way is to delete the feed, and re-adding feed. Too ridiculous to have do that, even in a BETA. I mean, really, no one thought to allow for multiple deletes?

Things are also better laid out in VIIGO. Its more colorful as well. Yes, I'm a visual kind of guy. But if we weren't visual, they wouldn't be selling themes, and such to make the phone more personal and visual.

I also agree that they should have simply improved VIIGO. This News Feeds is a step in the wrong direction. Its also much more cumbersome to use, and since all the feeds look the same, from screen to screen, its hard to figure out just where you are. There were times I thought I'd have another screen pop up, only to be surprised that I was installing a feed. Sheesh, this is just BAD. I've seen Alphas with better programming than this BETA.

jjca

with the social feeds there is no need for this... i have the same news feed connected to it and it takes less memory.... happy holidays....

R1cE

I can't even use this on .418 for 9700. Whenever I open a article it doesn't load any text, just gives me the "read full article" button. Don't know if it's os specific but RIM needs to fix that HUGE issue.

Ghostnyc

I am a big time viigo user and this app shows promise but needs ALOT OF IMPROVEMENT.

1. cannot customize feed titles
2. cannot sync via WiFi- WTF
3. serious lag when attempting to close out the application
4. cannot sync with Google reader
5. when fwd articles- only link is sent NO summaries
6. Can only open full article via web, NO text only option (great for areas with spotty access)

element526

Totally agree, and would like to add lag in general. I realize this is a first beta and am willing to give them some time to grow.

borderpatrol1987

Hell, I just want the ability to save articles

bioadam

The world of tech is a sad place for Blackberry owners and a landscape of sorrow for those of us who cannot upgrade to Blackberry OS 6. While the iOS and Adroids are choosing among hundreds, neigh thousands, of RSS readers, we poor Blackberry OS 5 owners have to take whatever bone RIM tosses us. Why do I even bothter with my glitchy brick? Because my employer is paying for it. But who really pays for it, who really pays for it?

meestark

I'm a big BB fanboy, but seriously - no Google Reader support? Why is it in my ipod touch it took me all of 20 seconds to find an app that syncs with Google Reader fantastically, while I'm left with adding feeds to this app or social feeds, or even worse, use BeReady or whatever that other godawful app is.

danageplan

To all you haters of this app relax, its still a beta, and I love it, I deleted social feeds and rock feeds now, I want lightweight efficient apps not dog and pony shows.

MaxPayne79

I trully wish they would at least make the feeds that they offer work. For example pocketberry does not refresh along with several others which really bothers me. And the best part is the feeds that you get to import from viigo, work on viigo but after the import no longer work in this app, which I find odd. Let's hope they fix it in the updates. :)

MaxPayne79

And for all the people who are bitching that it doesn't sync via Wifi...what phone are u using? If its an erricsson then yes, it will not sync but if ur using a blackberry, then it works. I have no issues syncing on my 9700 runnig os6 (.418). You do need an apn adress for it to work. Maybe u guys are missing that?

heateris

bottom line, too much lag. it killed my storm2.

Pilot Prop

i tried it out on my Torch...yeeeeeaaa i'll pass

ravenwolf8301

I have a Storm 1 and this app is a great replacement for Viigo a little lag in updating the feeds manually but other wise works great. I think that perhaps the version on this app being reviewed is dated cause I get favicons on my Storm and it makes viewing the All Tab for a few new articles slick and easy. This also is just a beta release so gonna have some bugs. Two things I would love to see in the next release is the ability to save articles and a better way to post to Facebook as in a actual post not just the URL to my page.

decoy72

I think everyone is being a little too rough on this BETA app. Personally, I am having absolutely none of the problems that the majority of users are reporting. The app syncs fine with WiFi only, I'm having virtually no lag and I happen to like the sparse look of the interface.

That being said, there is some serious room for improvement:

1 - The ability to import/export feeds as an OPML file would be great.
2 - Better control over marking items as read/unread.
3 - The ability to mark an article as "saved"
4 - The ability to sort feeds into user determined folders (i.e. - News, Sports, Finance, etc.)
5 - Better interaction with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc. so that you could mark a file for transfer to one of the the other RIM social apps.

Overall, I'm happy with their first attempt and have fully switched to it from using the Social Feeds App which IMO is a terrible news reader. I can only hope that they fix the bugs, add the features that everyone is asking for and that they do it quickly. Killing Viigo for OS 6 users was a huge mistake on their part and they need to fix that quickly for their loyal users.

thymaster

No offense to RIM and I'm a Blackberry fan myself but I can't believe they bought out Viigo just to downgrade the application. WFT are they thinking?

joesworld

People, this is TESTING software (you DID see what category it was in app world, right?)... you're all talking as if this is a full release. We will likely see further refinement before they take it out of the testing area.

phenyx923

Yup, not feeling it. Viigo is still way better. Don't understand why they couldn't keep Viigo as is and just rebrand it with some BB elements, rather than try a whole new style. And I have no idea how you even integrate the news feed w/ Viigo, its not in my options... Ill go back to Viigo (although I do wish it worked a little better w/ touch screen, but ill take it!).

bigberries

Two big problems for me. First, the feeds are not updating at the same rate. I have other RSS readers that I placed the same feeds in to. This new app is not updating the feeds when the others do it. Even if I click the update feeds option.

Also, as has been stated by others, the full article links often don't bring you to the mobile or RSS version of the data. It attempts to load the full 'non-mobile' web page.

This is useless right now.

2wheeltim

I don't know if this is normal for RSS as this is the first one I tried, but it kills my battery at twice the rate. Went from 2 full days life to barely 1 on my 9700. I've deleted it now.

jvcvem2003

i have to i think its ok. worked fine for a bit on my 9700 on OS6. But now it doesnt work. Doesnt load any text. And dont like that "Full Article" goes to web browser.

Viigo does not work on my 9700 OS6 anymore either. :-(

So i am using XPRSS for now. Any other suggestions on what works good?

loki9674

BerryReader app wipes the floor with this one. Doesn't even come close.