Friday, February 12, 2010

The Future of NewsRob

If you are not interested in this meta stuff you can go directly to the release notes of NewsRob 3.6 here.

Recently NewsRob turned one and also crossed the 100.000 downloads barrier. Yay!

I took this event to think about the future of NewsRob.
In retrospect I really liked the last 14 months working on NewsRob and interacting with you guys. Those months took a heavy toll on my work/life balance and my social life, but in the end there was much more good than bad. I can't make any promises, but so far I decided to keep on going with NewsRob.

There is one change though. From the future on there will be two versions of NewsRob: A free version and a paid version.

The free version will feature ads, but will have the exact same functionality as NewsRob has now. I will also continue to add new features to the free version.

NewsRob Pro, the paid version, will have no ads and features some exclusive functionality. In the future I will decide for each new feature to which version I want to add it. As the paid version is focused on the power users it will likely be features geared towards this group.
Maybe some of the exclusive functionality will also turn up in the free version later.

The price for NewsRob Pro is €4.99 (~USD 7, GBP 4.35) and is bought as a separate application from the Android Market. It unlocks the premium features in NewsRob. You can buy from within NewsRob from the options menu "Buy NewsRob Pro".

As a token of appreciation to the existing NewsRob users the price will be €3.99 for a week.

We are discussing this approach on the NewsRob mailing list. If you want to give constructive feedback and talk with other users too, join us there. If you want to vent you can leave a comment here at the blog and if you want to give me a piece of your mind or leave a death threat you can also email me:
I hope you guys are happy with the new direction and give me feedback one way or another.


  1. "Share with note" is the absolute must have feature ;) Thanks for developing the pro version!

  2. NewsRob Pro is the best Newsreader. But can you program a download limit for every feed seperatly.
    Thank You for this great Program.

  3. ahaha
    for some one who always said didnt want to spend time with donations or paid versions this is a funny turn around.

    i guess the Market is indeed changing.

    glad to see you are still keeping up, and enjoying it
    good work

    ps: i find that a bit expensive for "just" a rss sync tool, but its your call

  4. Mariano, I've been using this for about 6 months, it rocks and I want to buy the pro version. Unfortunately I live in a 3rd world Google ghetto known as Canada and have no paid apps in the market. I was happy to see there would be a way to pay through the "Buy NewsRob Pro!" option in the menu. I choose that and I get a dialog that says "Not found The requested item could not be found." I really want to upgrade to the paid version as I think you deserve the cash and I don't want the ads. Help!!!!

    Keep up the great work. I really appreciate your efforts.

  5. Svenja und Karl-Heinz, danke!
    Sorry, but I don't know how to implement that efficiently:

    From the FAQ:

    I would like to exclude certain feeds/folders from the sync or set a maximum number of messages. How can I do that?

    I understand the need. There is a couple of feeds that I rarely look at on my phone, e.g. my flickr friends' photos, and it would be good if I could skip them on the phone, but I don't know how to provide that. The GR API doesn't let me exclude specific feeds, so I am not aware of a sane or at least efficient way to do that.

    If NewsRob were a Desktop app, where efficiency is not that important, I could query Google Reader for each feed individually, but this is very inefficient and so I can't do that for NewsRob.

  6. BUGabundo, I never said that I will not accept donations, money, ads. I said that I don't want to be distracted at the moment and want to think about it at the end of 2009. And I did.

    I think that the ads are small and not obtrusive. I even implemented a lot of logic to control that they are not that often shown on devices with smaller screens than the Droid and N1.

    If you want to know more about the background check out this article:

  7. kanatacrude, I remember your name from the Android Market, but are you a photog also? I think we are contacts on flickr then. But maybe I am mistaken.

    Give me a little bit of time to think about a solution and then send me a mail to Ok?

    Just a thought: Are the ads that bad? I am wondering if I should turn the pro features on in countries where NewsRob cannot be bought, but leave the ads on? Could you please add your answer here:

  8. Hi mariano, I decided to go with the pro version, I know what does it mean to spend all your spare time on programming! :P
    I do hope you'll keep up with your great work on newsrob pro! ;)
    If I can give you a suggestion it would be really great if se could have a setting to automatically download web page or eventi mobile web page for starred items: most of the times I don't need to change a whole feed to download the web page thus to save time and space, but I would like to have web page downloaded only for those item I'm interested in, the ones I star indeed!

  9. Hi Aratheba,

    I think that makes it a bit more complicated to understand.

    But anyway, I see value in this use case. If it is close to your heart, could I ask you to add it to Please also add what you think should be done to an article that is already downloaded (as article, as web page, as mobile web page) and now gets starred.

    Does that work for you?

  10. I'm glad to support your software and buy the pro version. Your app is quite simply the best mobile solution for Google reader, and fills a serious gap in android's support for google apps (the mobile web page really doesn't work that well). This and Aldiko are *the* two third party apps that make my Droid worthwhile.

    I will say that for the American market, I do worry that your "entry fee" is going to be on the steep side. The mobile apps market in the US at this point expects anything over $5 to be a pretty serious productivity app, and as someone said, newsrob is primarily an rss reader (a very very good one, but still, that's its image). It is your choice, but I do wonder if you might actually have more success at a slightly lower price. I realize our crap USD is kinda hurting you in this respect.

    I also have serious doubts as to whether AdMob in android apps is really a viable revenue stream. I'd actually be interested to know if you have any luck. It's just that they are so prevalent in the free apps now, so annoying, and so completely and utterly pointless (my brain doesn't even see them any more, and all the ads are for things I could care less about - who cares about superpages any more? :)), that all it seems to do is make those extra pixels in the droid screen a waste of hardware and battery life. I remember when small ads were suppose to be the savior of many a website... that was an industry that failed miserably and is trying to save itself by spamming our eyes with garbage.

    I just think that image counts for a lot, and when mobile aps start to *look* like they're trying to get money with ads and such it can actually hurt their profitability more. Thank all the people who scream "OMG ADS WTF!".

    That all said, keep up the good work :) We need more android devs like you, and I'd like to do anything I can to help encourage this level of quality.


  11. Hi Mariano, I've already added this use case to one month ago. I had even forgot about it! :P
    Anyway, I'll add some comment there!

  12. When I open the application automatically check if there are new feed. It is possible?

  13. I updated to the new version and was disappointed to see that starring items was no longer possible, which doesn't really go with your assertion that the free version will maintain the same features it had before. Is this an oversight or will I have to pay to star items?

  14. I really like this app, but a lot of rss feeds I use have large pictures. So I need as much screen space as possible, any way we can have the post title only at the top and not displayed constantly, as an option or as default.



  15. Dev, I will answer, but I just don't have the time right now to do that in detail, but I will.. maybe tomorrow or Monday.

    Hope that is ok for you.

  16. Aratheba, yes, I read your comment on the suggested feature. Yeah, that makes sense.

    I am trying to take the votes as an indication of general user interest to invest my time on the right items. Let's wait a bit until it bubbles up with more votes. Ok?

  17. Balumba,

    yes, that is technically possible.

    You may want to vote for the following suggestions:

  18. James, I am not a 100% sure what you mean, so let me give you an answer based on my understanding and you let me know if I missed something.

    Yes, the free version does everything the previous version does and more. Having said that, there are some minor changes to the free and the pro version, that you may mistake for a removal ... or which I removed accidentally.

    The only thing that is removed with respect to starring is the "Add/Remove Star" menu item from the options menu in the article detail view.

    But I removed this from both versions, because the menu got out of hand and it is also available in this view directly as a button. Do you see the star on the upper right? That button is not only a display, but also functional to toggle the star state.

    Also you can still long press on the header and from the context menu it is not missing as well as from the context menu of the article list.

    Does this work for you and covers what you asked?

    Btw. there is one feature with respect to starring that is exclusive in the paid version: Syncing. With the free version you can star articles, and you will also get an update of a starred state when you later on change it in the Google Reader interface.
    With the pro version you can additionally define how many of those starred articles to keep and to sync.

  19. Jason,

    I agree.
    I first thought I could put the header into the scrolling webview, but this is not possible.
    My second try was to hide the header when scrolling down and show it again when the user scrolls back up. Unfortunately I don't know how
    to do that:

    Feel free to add a suggestion to to turn on the heat on me for finding another solution ;-)

  20. Dev*,

    thanks very much for your compliments and your insightful comment.

    About the ads. It is too early to tell how this pans out. I don't have high hopes though.
    One thing is for sure though. I would love to have relevant ads and that just doesn't seem to be the case right now. I applied for Google's AdSense for Android beta, but so far have not been accepted. We will see, maybe their ads are more relevant.
    Apart from that the free version is really not a trial-only version. From my subjective point of view, it is the 2nd best reader app in the Market for the non-casual user and the ads are not in there to be an annoyance to help people decide to get the paid version.
    Btw. I actually sunk quite a lot of time in enabling ads the proper way, e.g. downsizing the ads for the Tattoo, pre-caching ads to avoid flickering etc.

    I understand your point of view regarding the price. I see basically three directions where you can come from when determining the price.
    - It might be based on cost, but this is largely irrelevant for buyers and I decided a long time ago, that I will not be able to get the money from the Android app that I would get when using the time as a freelancer instead.
    - It could be based on value and as the paid version is geared at the people who use it 20+ hours a month, a much higher price should be ok. When I first bought byline on the iPhone I was totally shocked how cheap this app was as compared to what I knew from desktop apps and also compared to the time I spent with it. Where can you get entertainment for less than 1 ct an hour?
    - And last not least, there is the "competitive landscape" - the race to the bottom. I really don't like about the Android platform that many apps lack any polish or deeper functionality. I think it is the pricing that holds back the platform. It's impossible to earn an income from an Android app comparable to what you would get in an ordinary programming gig. So it's understandable that there aren't that many people who can afford to invest a serious amount of time over a prolonged duration, besides their paying job, friends and family.
    Of course there are still examples to the contrary, Seesmic is free and polished, also Linux works.

    Anyway, to sum it up I tried to find a balance between the value NewsRob provides and the Market expectation.

    And I am ok with coming across as the capitalist pig to some, if this helps the platform in the long run. I am also aware that a lower price would likely yield in more revenue. On the other hand I often thought that I hurt the platform by providing the most popular reader app for free. That is not the case anymore.

  21. I really do love this app, but can't stand the ads. I don't need or want the "power user" features, just a quality Google Reader client... without the ads. I'd love to contribute to your efforts, but 7USD is a lot for a simple RSS reader if the power/sharing features are un-needed. No way to get the "free" version sans ads for 1-2USD?

  22. Kanatacrude, please have a look here:

    Blogger, what's so bad about the ads? Could you come to the list and explain in detail. If this is about relevance, then there is not much I can do at the moment, but I am trying to get into AdSense. Can't say though if this is any better.

    I will think about a no-ads-only version.

  23. Thanks for greate app. It would be nice to have full-screen view.

  24. Muy buena la aplicacion, la uso desde hace mucho y no me parece mal lo de la publicidad... pero ya que hay que hacer cambios. Se puede poner en español y un widget en el escritorio?

  25. Hey Zeon,


    I would be ok with such a feature. It sounds basically similar to what Jason is asking for:

    I would prefer that solution outlined above, because then we wouldn't need to find a way to smoothly switch in and out of full screen mode.

    I would suggest to submit a feature suggestion to and let's get it voted up.

  26. Prometeo, my first name might look like I would speak Spanish, but I do not ;-)

    So, if I understand Google translate correctly, you ask for a Widget and a Spanish translation?

    Widget, yes, several are asked for on uservoice:

    Regarding translations, no, I don't plan to do any translations, even though many nice users offered to help. I feel that there is just not enough value in it. I would need to maintain that for each release and ask each translator again to help with the new releases ;-(

    I might change my stance on that when NewsRob slows down a bit in terms of new features, but I don't see that at the moment. Maybe next year.

  27. I had assumed that the star symbol worked like that, but it was not doing anything when I pressed it. I also was unaware of the long press context menu. Thanks for pointing those out.

  28. I forgot to say that after checking the star button is working as expected.

  29. Ok, James, thanks for getting back to me with that.

  30. I have just downloaded Market Enabler on my rooted HTC Hero (MoDaCo 3.1) to be able to buy NewsRob Pro from Luxembourg. Now this is a serious demonstration of love.

    Market Enabler enable you to fake to the Google Market that you are in a registered country for those interested.

  31. Just paid for NR Pro, even though I don't really mind ads and I don't ever share articles in Google Reader. It seems like the least I can do, in order to counterbalance all the people who say "I love this app and I use it often and I would love to support you, but I'm only willing to pay $2, not $7."

    I've been using an Android phone for about 4 months now, and this is the first app I've ever paid for. Thanks for the great app, and for being so responsive to users.

  32. Its hilarious to find people who consider €4 to be shockingly expensive for anything this good.

    Thanks Mariano!

  33. Odajay, Colburn, Kevin, thanks guys! That's really helping!

    It's great to see some positive energy ;-) I am wondering if I should stop reading the Market comments ;-)

    So thanks again ;) It really helps a lot.

  34. Is it possible to have your app go out to a website and automatically download a PDF so I can view it offline when I am in a plane?
    I subscribe to a RSS feed in my Google Reader account that publishes a PDF twice a month.

  35. Hi Mike,

    technically yes, but given that there are so many wishes for the current scope of NewsRob that I cannot satisfy at the moment, just due to a lack of time I don't want to broaden the scope to downloading podcasts. Downloading PDFs goes pretty much in the same direction.

    I hope you understand the way I think about it. Sorry for not being more helpful.

    When I am able to catch up with the current feature suggestions I will be open again to take NewsRob in new directions.

  36. Mariano,

    I totally understand.

    The product is still great, and I will continue to use it. Thank you for all your hard work.

  37. Mike, thanks
    That's actually quite rare ;)

  38. Hi Mariano,

    I was about to buy the app today, but I see the price has gone up to €4.99 ($6.78 !!!). I would definitely think about buying it at €3.99. Could you please lower the price?

    I think you would make the same amount of money, since more people would buy it.

    I know you work hard on this and I appreciate it, but you have to realize that the market for phone apps has a different price point that desktop apps.



  39. I found the free version just downloaded NO ADDS. ...LOL

  40. Andrés, I believe the app is worth €4.99, but as I wrote above in the article I wanted to let the existing users get it a bit cheaper, so I said the first week is €3.99. That was until yesterday morning. Today I did as I said and changed the price in the afternoon.

    If you consider yourself a long time user, buy the app, send me an email ( with the same name you used when buying the app and I paypal you one EUR. Ok?

    Wayne, I will never understand this. But as you seem to enjoy this "bargain" so much, if you like you can post the link here. Just please don't expect me to support the app for you or add new functionality or fix it when the protocol changes or the Android API or whatever.

  41. I believe the app is worth €9.99, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that I can't purchase it in my country. Thanks, Google :(

  42. Hey Morvael,

    yes, this is unfortunate ;-(

    For these cases I also uploaded it to AndAppStore:


  43. Is it enough to purchase "NewsRob Pro Unlock App" from AndAppStore, but install the normal free NewsRob from Android Market? That way I will get notifications about updates.

  44. Hi again Morvael,

    yes and yes. Absolutely! That was one of the benefits of using the Unlock-App-Approach.


  45. Thank you Mariano for answers.

    I have now a NewsRob Pro working on my G1 :-)

    Unfortunately all those new apps I had to install (including AndAppStore) filled my device over the limit (<6MB left) and I had to do some purges. But that's a complaint for HTC designers, who creates a device with some 60 megs of memory for applications these days where we have 1TB drives?

  46. Hi again.

    Great, I am glad to hear that ;-)

    NewsRob Pro just eats up a couple of kilobytes, you won't even notice it. If you don't need the AndAppStore client you may try to remove it. I would think this won't remove NewsRob Pro. But I might be wrong. If that is the case you would just need to install it again.

    You can see how much space an app takes using "Manage Apps" from the Android settings.


  47. There are quite a few "3rd world countries" where payed apps are not available through the market. In fact last time I've checked there were only 13 or so countries where payed apps were available. Google is "actively" looking to expand this market so in the last 9 months they went from 11 to 13. Unfortunately this only means that as much as I'd like to pay for an useful app, I'll not be able to do it any time soon.

  48. Alex,

    I am not happy about that situation either, but there is not much I can do about it ;-(

    I added a purchase option outside of the Android Market (, but this is not a very good solution for me either.

    I guess we need to keep hoping that Google accelerates their pace or decouple the paid Android Market from Google Checkout.

  49. So..this is where the link for the paid app lands... but there is no description of what the added functionality is. You could use some better advertising. I just installed newsRob and was thinking of Pro but can't find a list of features except that there is a count widget. Does pro increase the number of items it will store beyond 1000?

  50. FinanceWonk, yes, Marketing is on my TODO list, like many other things ;-)

    The first answer covers the topic:
    But anyway, if you don't feel the need to get the Pro version, just don't. The lite version is not a crippled version of NewsRob.

    Why do you want more than 1,000 articles? Are you aware of the Settings/Sync/Sync Type configuration?

  51. "Why do you want more than 1,000 articles? Are you aware of the Settings/Sync/Sync Type configuration? "

    Yes I am, and I have it set to unread only but still will overwhelm the 1000 item limit if I miss a few days. How?

    1) Company feeds: my company has status feeds for product lines, sometimes they get 100+ entries per day and I'd like to be able to have some old ones too.

    2) Journal feeds: I subscribe to about 30 technical journal RSS feeds. Many of them all seem to update at the same time near the beginning of the month so suddenly there are 900 more items and I would like to be able to browse them over the course of the month without conflicting with my other stuff.

    3) google listen: insists on putting feeds into your google reader account. I have had to give up on listening to podcasts to avoid overflowing the 1,000 item limit.

    If you store stuff on the SD card it seems like there's no downside. I, for one, would love to make my limit 5,000 or higher and keep read items too for a while!

    If you just add higher totals, I'll buy NewsRob pro, as I like it. But without that I am having to try to find another reader. FeedR doesn't seem to have the limit but won't synchronize with GReader, bleah.

  52. Previous comment sounded too negative. This is definitely the best RSS feeder out there, so I'm just hopeful I can find a way to use it instead of going to an inferior solution because of an item count limit!

  53. FinanceWonk, actually that is what Settings/Sync/Sync Type = "Unread Only" is for.

    You would work through your most recent 1,000 articles and along the way hit sync/refresh. NewsRob will then remove the articles you've read and get older unread articles from the server side to fill up the local cache to reach 1,000 unread articles again.

    Actually there is a major downside to >1,000 articles. The meta data is stored in a database, not the SD card. To go above 1,000 articles I would need to be much more aggressive with database indices, which means that would more space per article is needed in the phone memory (that's where the database with the meta data lives) and it also means more CPU consumption per article during the import.
    And everybody would have to pay this price.

    Regarding Listen. Meanwhile you can pick which Google Account to use. So you can have a separate Account for your Listen subscriptions.

    Thanks for taking the time to explain your use cases.

  54. "You would work through your most recent 1,000 articles and along the way hit sync/refresh. NewsRob will then remove the articles you've read and get older unread articles from the server side to fill up the local cache to reach 1,000 unread articles again."

    Aha! Thank you. I had no idea that was how it would work. I thought additional new items after the 1000 was full would be lost. I should have known NewsRob would be better than that.

    Will go pro next time on Droid (traveling overseas right now, missing my Droid).

  55. Sounds great! Glad you like it.

    Actually you don't need the Pro version to do any of what I described above. You're are still welcome to purchase it though ;) But don't feel pressured, I am as happy with the Lite users as with the NewsRob Pro users. It makes more of a difference to me, how people behave.

  56. Hi Mariano- I've actually tried to purchase pro twice now but Android market keeps saying my credit cards are invalid for the foreign purchase. I don't get it. How do us Americans go pro?

  57. Hey FinanceWonk. Have you been able to purchase anything else?
    Most buyers are from the US, so that is a bit strange.
    Can you send me the name you used and I check if I have more information.

  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. Mariano-
    As an executive I actually can't reveal who is behind the FinanceWonk writings. I have bought multiple apps, none overseas. I'll work on the Google checkout issue.

    Update: wow, google checkout doesn't even *pretend* to have customer service. I've now tried several different apps, looks like I'm blocked from foreign purchases. No idea why, I use these cards in Europe all the time.

  60. I can't tell either and from the seller's side I don't see any support either.

    You could go down the AndAppStore route if you like:

  61. I'm new to Android as my husband got us a matching HTC Desire. I am so over the moon with NewsRob and managed to get my husband also using your app! I don't mind the ads and etc. but still want to buy the pro version which I cannot seem to find anywhere else. And of course I'm currently in China hence it is not a supported country... Any help? Thanks.

  62. Arlyna,

    thanks. That sounds great.

    Indeed, you can alternatively buy it using the AndAppStore:


  63. I have a question, I checked the history and getting newsrob pro to sync with google reader you need to have sync settings to unread only. I double checked this and it is set correctly but it still doesn't update on my site. Has anyone have this issue recently? Good work on this app. You definitely found a balance.

  64. How about a translate feature. I read news from all around the world and hate having to wait to get to a pc to read those feeds.

  65. Christopher, I have the same need, not sure though how many other people do. The best thing is to submit the suggestion to and give it your three votes.