App Review: gReader HD [for Touchpad] | webOS Nation

App Review: gReader HD [for Touchpad] 6

by Adam Marks Sat, 09 Jul 2011 12:40 pm EDT

A good RSS reader is hard to find, and a good RSS reader built for the Touchpad is even harder to find. While everyone has their own needs for what makes a good RSS reader, there are a few key ingredients that are a must. Since most people use Google Reader for their RSS feeds, integration with Google is the first requirement. When gReader HD by appeared in the App Catalog for $2.79, with the brief description of "Google Reader client for HP Touchpad," we wanted to take this app out for a spin to see if it would meet our needs for a good Google Reader

Setting up the app was pretty easy. You open up the app, it prompts you for your Google email and password, and you are in. As with most Touchpad apps, gReader HD sticks with the sliding pane setup, where your feeds show up on the left side of the screen, with the full article listed on the right that can be slide to take up the full screen if desired. Actually, the left-pane does triple duty, switching between your feed view, an article list view, and favorites. I would have preferred a three-pane view like email that had feeds, article list, and actual article, similar to how the email client works, but still works fine as is.

Underneath the left pane, you will find three buttons. You have a standard refresh button, an add/remove feed management button, and a settings button. The Feed management app is a nice addition, as many google reader apps don't support this feature. As for the settings, you have a number of options, from automatically marking items as read, open instapaper in app, remember your email or password, and hide feeds with no new items (this was actually missing from he initial release of the app, but was added in an update, showing that we should hopefully expect more updates in the near future). The instatpaer feature was not related to saving the article for later viewing, but rather Instapaper's Text engine that transforms web pages for easy text reading on mobile devices. The Mark Items as Read setting was interesting. Turning this setting on was the only way to mark an article as read, as there was no manual setting when viewing an actual article. So you have to decide for your whole reading experience if you want articles marked as read or not. Ideally, there would be a button to toggle between read/unread within each article, and I hope the developer adds that in.

Finally, when viewing an article, you have a number of buttons on the bottom of that pane. You can open up the article on the web, launcher Instapaper's text-optimized verion of the page (either as a pop-up in the app or within the browser, depending on your setting), flag the article (although this does not seem to actually do anything), share via email/, or mark as a favorite.

So is this the great Touchpad RSS Reader that we are all searching for? Unfortunately, no, it is not. That's not to say that this is not a nice looking app that does a good job of giving you quick access to your google reader, but it is missing a number of key features. First, we need the ability to mark the article as read/unread, as discussed above. Next, it would be nice to have an offline mode to read your articles, as gReader HD currently requires you to have a network connection. This is especially improtant for a device that does not currently have a cellular radio, so you never know when you will be without a network connection. Finally, I would like to see the app tie in to webOS specific features, such as scheduled refreshes and notifications. Hopefully, we will continue to see more updates to gReader HD to add these features. But for now, just like webOS, this ia a great start to an app that has a lot of potential, but still needs further updates to add some increased functionality.