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Review: NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook

NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook
By Zach Gilbert on 20 Apr 2012 04:01 pm EDT
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If you’re searching through BlackBerry App World on your PlayBook for a decent Google Reader app, I’m sure you’ve come across a few of them that are really top quality. But as I was doing the same yesterday, I tried out a few and came across on that really stood out.

NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook is a fully functioning Google Reader client with a brilliant and easy to use UI. Adam took a quick look at NewsPile back in September, but I wanted to go a little more in depth and take a look at the application as a whole. Follow me after the break for the full review.

The Review

Developer: Dennisschneider.de Version (at time of review): 1.0.91
File Size: 3 MB OS Requirements: Tablet 1.0.0 or higher
Cost: $2.99 Website: http://www.dennisschneider.de

NewsPile connects directly to your Google Reader account allowing you to sync your RSS feeds and have them on the go. Of course, you’ll want to add CrackBerry to your feed right away to stay up-to-date on all the BlackBerry goodness. With features like swipe to sync, mark all read, and even select by date, you’ll quickly become accustomed to the ease of use provided by the application.

NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook

NewsPile functionality and user interface

The analogy of less is more really does come into play with NewsPile. The user interface is clean with very few buttons, and the buttons themselves are easy to identify and connect with an action. With other news reader apps, you can see that often times adding features comes with increased load times and lagging performance, which is just simply not the case with NewsPile. 

NewsPile Features

  • offers a huge pile of news articles you love.
  • synchronizes two ways. This means that all changes you make within Newspile (i.e. read, star, or broadcast an news item) appear in your Google Reader and vice versa.
  • allows easy, touch optimized pull-to-refresh synchronization
  • lets you view embedded videos in fullscreen mode.
  • lets you share news items via Google.
  • is optimized for low CPU and Memory consumption to increase the battery life of your BlackBerry PlayBook.
  • stores news items locally, for a faster reading experience.
  • has a intuitive and clean layout.
  • opens embedded links in your BlackBerry PlayBook Browser.
  • supports GZIP - Compression, which makes fetching news items efficient, fast and bandwidth friendly.
NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook homescreen

Setting up NewsPile on your PlayBook

First off you'll get nowhere if you don't sign up for a Google Reader account. The Google account is what NewsPile connects to allowing you to manage your subscriptions on your computer for wireless synchronization. After you've headed over to Google.com/Reader you will want to open the application on your PlayBook. From within the app you will be prompted to sign-in with your Google account. After you've signed in the app will do the rest for you by pulling all your subscriptions from Google and placing them on your PlayBook in a visualy appealing way.

Pros

While no application, whether its on BlackBerry, Android, or IOS, is perfect, NewsPile for the PlayBook does a good job at coming close to it. The application is easy to use, provides you with just the right features (no bloat options to make it look better), and downloads articles from Google Reader fast allowing you to read the news quicker than most other apps. One feature that made me love this app is the ability for the application to download information in the background; no need to wait for NewsPile to download before you can catch-up on today’s news.

Cons

While I did say that NewsPile did a good job at coming close to being perfect, in my mind no application can really take the title of perfection. There are always features that could be added, bugs that need to be squashed, or just odd-looking UI that could be corrected. Really my only two complaints lie with the "loading" spinner and offline cache. While it didn’t hinder the use of the application it was a visual annoyance. The spinner would often spin over top of my feed list for over five minutes, and other times it would be there for just a second as it loaded my articles. I'm sure its not taking 5 minuets to load a few articles; I'm guessing it's just a glitch in the app itself. The other complaint is how offline caching works. NewsPile does in fact cache all the content but you must leave the app open as you leave a network connection, if you close the app and reopen without a connection the cached content is lost. Those are really my only complaints about NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Conclusion

If you're an average to heavy user of the Google Reader service you'll definitely want to check out NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook. NewsPile's creative and intuitive UI will allow you to fly from article to article keeping you up-to-date on the news that interests you the most. You can download NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook from the link below, and for $2.99 its definitely something you'll want to look at.

NewsPile
by Dennisschneider.de

The Good

NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook has a lot going for it - from the fluid UI and stunning visuals to the rich feature base. It could be your one and only Google reader app.

The Bad

Sometimes the loading spinner sits on the feed for a while. Doesn't effect the application, just a nuisance. Offline caching only works if you leave the app open.

Conclusion

If you can't get enough of reading your favorite blogs like us here at CrackBerry, then NewsPile is something you'll want to pick up. With the ease of use and the speed found in the application, it truly sets the bar high for other RSS reader applications.

Purchase NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Reader comments

Review: NewsPile for the BlackBerry PlayBook

9 Comments

OK. I bought Newspile a while back and liked it (when it worked). Not sure what happened, and I might be an isolated case, here, but when I skipped a couple weeks of use, the thing just "stuck" in trying to download new feeds. Else, it was painfully slow. After 10 minutes or so, I gave-up and shut it down.

Tried uninstalling/reinstalling. No dice. My "latest stories" are still dated in early March b/c I can't get this thing to kick over.

This actually drove me to using my "other pad" for fly-through feed reading. On a whim, I tried GeeReader (I believe it was called), and once they pulled everything in (even w/the free version), I purchased the Pro version to eliminate the annoying "box" in it (and to support functional software in general). $1.99. (No. I don't work for any developer.)

Again, and I stress this, I might be the exception to the rule in my issues w/Newspile. But RSS consumption of news ala Google Reader is a huge part of my use for any tablet. Newspile looks nicer and I like the drag'n'update/gesture-centric UI, but I'm w/the general BB mentality in that "function trumps appearances."

My two quid...

I've been debating this one. I currently have Web Reader and I like it well enough. This looks prettier but other than that about the same so not sure whether to go for it or not.

I've tried them all (what a waste of money that was) and GeeReader Pro is the way to go IMHO. It has a streamlined, functional interface with no screen space wasted on useless eye-candy, has multiple reading modes (summary, mobile and full - which is basically a browser view, that you can even post comments from), great sharing capabilities (email, twitter and even blogging), convenient, single-touch, read/unread/star toggles. I've been using it for a few months now and it definitely looks like I will keep using it for now, despite this awesome Crackdvertisement.

Couldn't state it any better than that. GeeReader Pro is the definitive news reader out there. I own both and just on speed alone, GeeReader Pro far outweighs NewsPile - NewsPile takes so long to do anything on it whereas GeeReader Pro is blazing fast.

For reference, I have about 80 different RSS feeds that I subscribe to and GeeReader Pro handles it all very quickly. NewsPile grinds to a halt far too often.

I bought Web Reader and Newspile. I get a certificate error with Web Reader probably due to the fact that my PlayBook time is set around 30 mins in advance to my timezone (Taipei +8). Newspile works most of the time but I feel the it's not simple to operate and sometimes laggy. Now I only use BlackBerry News App for BlackBerry PlayBook. Simple, fast and works well.

I bought it after this review. For me a google reader app is the most important app on the tablet. This one is the best I've seen on Playbook and comes close to the one on iPad.