If you like to stay up to date with the latest news stories from your favorite online sources right on your Android phone or tablet via RSS feeds, chances are you’ve come across gReader at some point in time. gReader was perhaps the popular third-party Google Reader client available for Android, which later started supporting Feedly and a few other popular RSS services after the demise of Google’s Reader earlier this year. The developers of gReaders have recently decided to release the app’s successor by the name of News+ that builds on the same awesome interface and feature-set of gReader, while adding the possibility of having several news and RSS services as your news sources, thanks to its great extensions-based architecture that makes it possible for any developer to create extensions for more sources, and make them available to the app’s users. Let’s take a look at this promising app in detail.
One of the best parts about the app is its professionally designed and very user-friendly interface, which works well on both phones and tablets, with your news feed on the right and the navigation pane on the left. The app displays in a two-column UI on tablets, and this behavior can also be optionally enabled for phones while in landscape mode.
On phones (when not in landscape mode with the two-column layout enabled), the home screen shows your news feed, while the navigation drawer can be slided into view by swiping inward from the left edge, or tapping the app’s icon on the top-left. The navigation pane lets you switch between different news categories for the source you have selected, which is Google News by default.
’In order to select another news source, you have to install its extension. To do so, just tap the dropdown menu next to the app’s icon in the top bar, followed by ‘Manage Extensions’. You will be shown a list of available Google Reader-like services to use as sources, which include Newsblur+, Pocket+, Google Reader API Clone, Tiny Tiny RSS, Bazquz Reader, InoReader, FeedBin, CommaFeed, SubReader and Reedah. Do note, however, that you can only use one extension in the free version of the app, and will need to purchase the premium version to use more. The other two buttons in the top bar let you search for a news story by keywords, and select your region while using the buttons in the bottom bar, you can toggle between list and grid view, toggle rich list and marking as read behavior on scrolling, refresh your feed, mark all items as read, and toggle between displaying all items or just the unread ones.
To read a story, just tap it and it will open. Tapping once on the screen with a story open reveals some controls laid out in neat translucent bars on the top-right and bottom-left, with the former allowing you to have the app read out the story, mark it as favorite and toggle its read state, while the latter lets you toggle full screen view, and zoom in and out. There’s also a backward arrow icon that looks like an undo button in this bar, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. There’s also a bar at the bottom, using which you can move to the next or previous news story, open the story in a web browser, or share it using several available sources. There are two sharing buttons here, but only the one on the right works, and the one in the center doesn’t seem to do anything at the moment. You can also switch between the default feed view of the story and the web view by tapping the appropriate label from the top bar. The web view lets you see the story the way it appears in a web browser, without having to switch to a browser. The menu overflow button lets you save the page and toggle some options such as normal or page-fitting width for images, white on black or black on white display, and image visibility.
The menu overflow button on the app’s home screen lets you upgrade to the premium version, change the theme from the available Default, Dark, Black and Sepia options, and access the app’s extensive list of settings under Synchronization, Offline Reading, Notifications, Cache, Reading Preferences, Look and Feel, Services and Backup/Restore sections. News+ is extensively customizable, giving you complete control over how the app works, and this will become apparent when you start exploring the app’s different settings.
Due to its great interface, handy list of features and extensive configuration options, News+ is definitely one of the best feed readers available on Android, and we didn’t expect any less from the developers of gReader. The only major limitation is support for just one source at a time in the free version, and lack of a Feedly extension, though we are sure to see it growing in the extensions department soon. You can grab the app for free from Google Play via the link below.