Friday, April 16, 2010

NewsRob 3.8

New Toolbar

With NewsRob 3.8 you'll get a new toolbar for the most frequently used actions.

The idea behind this is easy access to speed up your workflow, but at the same time lowering the mental barrier to use such actions, so that you can add actions to your workflow that you wouldn't have used otherwise.

This is a bit abstract, so let me explain that using an example. Most people almost never toggle between "hide read articles" and "show read articles", because it is too much fuss to use the menu for doing that. But now you can toggle between "hide" and "show" with a single tap. That makes the whole operation much more lightweight.

Even though the actual difference in time between the new and the old approach is not that much absolutely speaking it feels very different. Hence it is much more likely now that you would frequently change between those modes instead of being frozen into one of them.


Large Touch Areas

The new toolbar also doesn't take up much space and still the icons are easy to touch. This works because the touch area extends into the
status bar. As a visual cue you see the background of the actual touch area in orange when pressing it.


Muscle Memory

If there is one thing we learned in beta testing the new toolbar, it is the importance of muscle memory. E.g. during the testing both the old menu and the new toolbar were in place at the same time and it was very hard not to use the menu for those actions even though it was slower. It was just the way that we used NewsRob before over a long time.

So give it a go and let it sink in over the next two or three weeks. Please let me know afterwards how you like it.

I know that a lot of people won't like it (at first) and wouldn't want NewsRob to change that much. Still please just give it a bit of time. I want to keep on working on NewsRob and don't see that NewsRob reached the end of it's evolution where no changes can be done anymore ;)


Sort Order

As requested you can now change the order of the article list.
You can still let the most recent article be on the top, like before, but now you can also decide to do start with the oldest articles.
Using the arrow icon on the toolbar you can change that order and there is a global setting to define the default.


Sync Progress Reporting

On NewsRob's lists you will see a small circular progress monitor if something, most likely the sync, is going on in the background.
If you're interested in more detail you can enable in the settings to see progress reports in the notification bar.


Update to the Unread Count Widget (Pro only)

Many people gave me the feedback that they would like to use the Unread Widget more like a launcher icon, just with the additional unread count painted on the launch icon.

To care for that the wizard for creating the widget has a new page when you select "the reading list". There you can define the entry point. You may now also start at the dashboard or the feed list instead of the article list.


Bug Fixes

There are a ton of bug fixes and small enhancement in this version, but I would like to name two explicitly, because I read so much about them in the comments.

There was definitively a bug in the automatic re-login code. This one is fixed now. Unfortunately I cannot really force a session to expire, so that I also cannot test the re-login functionality 100%. However I am somewhat confident that this should be working now :)

Another frequent complaint in the comments was that NewsRob was re-launched after killing it with a task manager, even though auto-sync was disabled and no widget was deployed. Fortunately someone took the time to come to the mailing list and described the issue he was seeing in detail and at least for this person the issue is no longer reproducible with NewsRob 3.8.

Update:

You don't want to wait for two weeks and already know that you don't like the toolbar and will never like it in this life?
Want to turn it off? Vote here.
Want to see it at the bottom of the screen? Vote here.

61 comments:

  1. hey nice update

    I just noticed if I press the Menuebutton on my milestone and keep it pressed so the shortcutss are viewd it always switches from 2 to 1line view which makes it hard to get the shortcuts

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  2. I didn't even know that feature exists ;-)

    But anyway. I just tried it on my Milestone and it doesn't change from 2 to 1 line or the other way around. It is one line all the way.

    I use Android 2.0.1. What do you use?

    You should join the beta test next time ;-)

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  3. Can't seem to concentrate on subscriptions list now, new toolbar really drag too much attention.

    Wish I could turn it off for old settings :-(

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  4. DooMMaster. I see now that in the free version there are two lines, but still it stays two here.

    dr0fnax, could you please try it out 2/3 weeks. It really adds a lot of complexity to make things configurable. That leads to more bugs and less features as it slows me down.

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  5. That is awful. If you want to include this in the future versions, please, make it optional.

    I've installed 3.2.6 back - that was the best newsrob version so far.

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  6. Mariano, I understand new configurations add up to code complexity.

    Well, you still have many options for UI improvement. I mean, hey, 99% of time people spend looking at their reading list figuring out what to read next, not clicking sync or even sort buttons. You should consider it while designing UI.

    Here's just one of many possible improvements:
    http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/6082/nrob.png

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  7. Dr0fnax,

    thanks for taking the time to mock something up. I appreciate it a lot.

    I think it looks like the icons are disabled then though.

    Anyway, please take it along with you for two weeks and then give me feedback afterward.

    If there is something in NewsRob that could be better then it always has been that it was changed over time. I am open to suggestions and that can mean better icons (no idea what to take but the circle for show/hide), the color scheme, if the toolbar is on top or at the bottom or if it is all configurable including turning the whole toolbar off again.

    There is the mailing list (http://bit.ly/nr/list) for the discussion and when we have a good proposal then we put it up for a vote on http://newsrob.uservoice.com. And in a case like this these suggestions don't even need to reach the top.

    I hope that works for you.

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  8. Nice! Can't wait to download this :)

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  9. P-A, good to hear that there are also people who like it ;-)

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  10. DooMMasteR, I am preparing a bug fix release, but to include a fix for the issue you see I'd need to be able to reproduce it.

    Which version of Android do you use?

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  11. The toolbar is a great addition to a great app.. But could you please make it appear down at the bottem. I cant reach it with my thumb, so i have to use newsrob with two hands now. (G1 user)

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  12. Andre, could you please submit the suggestion to http://newsrob.uservoice.com? And could you also state there if you want it above our below the ads and why?
    Also the status bar should stay at the top, right?
    So to make the toolbar's touch area as big the actual toolbar buttons need to grow to the double size, right? What to do with the extra space there? Put titles on it or just grow the icons?

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  13. @Andre: Toolbar at the bottom would make it nearly impossible to use the "larger click area" feature and that way the toolbar would be hard to click, too. And it would mess up with the AdMob bar in the free version. Even though I can't reach it with my thumbs on the top, I don't think moving it to the bottom would be an alternative ...

    @Mariano: Great new features, I like it :) And as a dev I know the problems with "This new layout sucks, change it back!!" very well - but keep it up!

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  14. Droid 2.1.
    I'm missing entire feed groups. Your app only picks some of the groups to synch.

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  15. Flochen,

    thanks. And yes, it's hard. If I would toss the last month and rip out the toolbar there would also be people telling me that my app is totally unusable without it ;-)

    Ben.

    Maybe the text below will help you. If that is not the case, please write again. You can also check if "Settings/Sync/Sync Type" is set to the right value for you.

    Not all of the feeds in Google Reader show up on NewsRob. Why's that?

    NewsRob will only show the feeds for which there are currently articles on your phone.
    If you have 300 feeds on Google Reader, but the most recent 500 articles, if that is what you set capacity-setting to, only are in 90 feeds, then you will only see 90 feeds. When new articles arrive that are in other feeds, those feeds will be displayed then.
    Also NewsRob will only show the feeds that match the current selection. That means if you look at the label "android" it will only show you the feeds that are below the "android" label, also if you set NewsRob to "hide read articles" you will only see feeds with unread articles.

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  16. I found NewsRob yesterday, bought the pro version right away and today there's an update that fixes each and every of my (two) pet pevees :) great job!

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  17. BCW, great.

    Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate the positive energy.

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  18. One question -- it seems that when I read some articles, they aren't marked as read on the server until I resync NewsRob. Is that correct? I'd prefer that each "read" article was marked as such on the server right away. I switch back and forth between mobile and desktop (and laptop) during the day, so the auto-marked-as-read feature would be nice.

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  19. Mickey,

    actually when you have auto-sync enabled it works like this: Each time you change the state of an article that needs syncing, e.g. unread -> read, a countdown of 5 minutes is started. If another state change occurs during that time the countdown is reset.
    Eventually it will reach zero, 5 minutes after the last change, and then an "upsync" is done. That is the same as the full sync, but only submits your changes.

    The usage scenario is that somebody catches up on news on the tube and when hopping off it NewsRob syncs and when the guy or gal reaches his or her desktop the world is already in sync again.

    In NewsRob 3.8 you can enable sync notifications in the settings and will see exactly how it's working. There is sync that is called "uploading your changes" which does exactly that.

    If you tried that and feel it doesn't work for you, explain your use case / workflow and submit a suggestion to http://newsrob.uservoice.com.

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  20. I have a problem with the new version:
    I make the setting that it only updates once a day.
    I don't know, why, but it updates much more.
    Can U help please?

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  21. Hi Dennis.

    NewsRob makes a full sync at the defined intervals but submits your changes (unread -> read, starred) etc. on demand. Please see the comment from directly above yours for a more detailed explanation.

    If you get erroneous sync we can get to the bottom of this, but I would like to ask you to come to the mailing list to analyze/fix that: http://bit.ly/nr_list

    Hope that works for you.

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  22. Hi Mariano,

    Great app, probably the best app I have installed on my HTC Tattoo. One little cosmetic problem though with 3.8. The new toolbar is partially on top of the bar containing Newsrob...

    Cheers!

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  23. John,

    I tested it in the emulator and it was working there for a Tattoo-like device, but I don't have an actual Tattoo myself. It would be great if you – in the future – help beta testing to make sure NewsRob looks good on the Tattoo?

    The beta testing happens on the mailing list: http://bit.ly/nr_list.
    For an Android app the mailing list is pretty busy, so if you just want to know when a new beta starts you can subsribe to nr_test using twitter or rss: http://twitter.com/nr_test

    Regarding the specific issue, could you come to the list and provide a screenshot?
    How bad is the issue? I would like to make a build for you to check that it is working, but don't want to roll it out, unless it is serious.
    Every update is an annoyance to users and so I only make one update a month and after 24h (before the majority has done the first update) I make another release with the bugs reported.

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  24. Hi Mariano,

    First, I want to congratulate you for your great job. I have been a NewsRob user for months and I think is the best reader app by far. When you decided to put a Pro version I become a "pro-member" since I think this app worths it (and I use it a lot of hours every week). I also decided to pay for it because I want to support your job because I am a programmer and I know you have to live.

    Well,regarding the new version: I like a lot the new features: specially the toolbar and the "sort option". I dont know how the toolbar looks with ads, but for the pro version it is a major improvement (we can access to the most used option with just one touch) and I like the idea of using the status bar as part of the buttons, great idea. If people wants an option to turn it off, fine, but I wont use it because I love it. Maybe I would improve the Icons because they are a little bit... ugly? I dont know, I think it can be better (simply but better)

    I also like a lot the option of sorting the articles from old to new. This is the way I usually read the articles so it is a very important feauture for me.

    Ah! To show the sync progress in the notifications area is a great feauture and I really like the way you implemented: this is the best implementation I have ever seen (as fas as I see, I am not telling is the best in the whole market) and it is the first time I see a cancel button on it.

    So, thats all. It is the first time I write on your blog I hope it wont be the last.

    Regards,

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  25. Hey Starvin,

    awesome. Thanks very much for your detailed and positive feedback. It makes a difference to me.

    Regarding the icons, if you have any ideas, please share them. I am in particular unhappy with the symbols for show and hide, but can't think of anything better.

    If you want to participate in the future, also checkout the mailing list (http://bit.ly/nr_list ) and the feature suggestions (http://bit.ly/nr_suggest).

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  26. I like this app.

    The one issue I'm having is when I'm on the article list and I swipe right to left to mark the article read it sometimes will reposition the article one or two lines down. It doesn't happen all the time but if I have a list of 20 articles it will probably happen. It only does it when the article below is marked as unread. Once I mark the article that started off on the bottom read it goes back to its original position.

    Thanks

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  27. Hey Brandon,

    thanks. I recently put this on my list of things to investigate. It may not be that I will deal with it for the next release, but I'll get to it eventually now that it's on the list.

    Cheers
    Mariano

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  28. When I tap on the title bar to read the entire article, I get a notice about javascript turned off in mobile safari (only with some website, tuttoandroid.net for example). The page is loaded in the background and I can scroll down and view the rest, but the notice remain on top of the. First piece of site. I'm running Android 1.6 on G1 and, obviously, javascript is correctly turned on in browser settings.
    Is this a bug? Any suggestions?

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  29. Paciotti,

    yes, this wordpress template is very annoying.

    You can turn on JavaScript on a per-feed basis using the "Manage Feed" dialog. You can access it from the article you're viewing, then press the MENU button.

    You need to go back to the list and then re-open the article for the change to take effect though.

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  30. Thank you! But now the question is: why can't you make "javascript on" the default setting? :-) Maybe is not possible...

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  31. It was on by default and people hated it, because it slows down the loading of sites. So I changed the default.

    I may reconsider this when I implement this feature: http://newsrob.uservoice.com/forums/35624-general/suggestions/444856-allows-images-to-fit-to-width-automatically?ref=title

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  32. Hi Mariano,

    i think the idea of the toolbar is not bad, but the clean layout and UI of NewsRob isn't as clear anymore.

    The icons don't look really professional to me, and the larger touch area indicated by the orange-highlight looked more like a bug the first time i saw it (since it expands over the "NewsRob" header area).

    So i hope we will get some less intrusive icons to keep the perfectly clean look NewsRob had prior to that update.

    bye,
    shahpur

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  33. Hey Shahpur,

    I hear you. If you have some specific idea how you would change the icons, let me know.

    The background of the touch area should give the user a visual cue how large the touch area is. That should lead the user to tapping higher on the screen than the actual icons are.

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  34. I just wanted to let you know that i like the new toolbar. Keep up the good work.

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  35. Thanks Paul.

    I appreciate that!

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  36. Hi, great app
    Didn´t find where to make requests so I do one here instead.
    I would like to be able to change size on the article list. Too big fingers on my hands... :)

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  37. Hi Mariano,
    Great app, but is there a way of getting the newest articles only? Either last xx days or newest xx articles. I find that otherwise I get loads of articles for some feeds (usually the highest turnover) and relatively few for others.

    Stace.

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  38. Hi Stace,

    have a look at Settings/Sync/Sync Type. You can set NewsRob there to only fetch unread articles. In turn this also means when you marked something (or all) as read NewsRob will get more unread during the next sync, which you could trigger by taping the sync icon.

    You can also vote here for a feature suggestion along the lines you describe.

    http://newsrob.uservoice.com/forums/35624-general/suggestions/685746-stop-noisy-feeds-drowning-out-quiet-feeds?ref=title

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  39. Thanks Mariano. I'll add my voice to the vote.

    Regards,
    Stace.

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  40. Great app. I use it daily. But I'm wondering if you know there seems to be an issue where if, on Google Reader's site, I mark an item unread, I can't view it in the app.

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  41. Hey Tim.

    No, I am not aware of that, but I am also not sure what you mean. Item's that are marked unread in the web app should get marked unread in NewsRob too, after the next sync.

    Would you care to share some details on the list? http://bit.ly/nr_list

    Cheers
    Mariano

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  42. hi,
    buyed newsRob today because i tested lots of RSS reader and yours is the best!
    maybe some day it gets an OPML import option?

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  43. Hey Paul,

    thanks.

    You can import your OPML file in Google Reader: Settings/Reader Settings/Import & Export.

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  44. I have the same problem "paciotti" mentioned - The notice that Javascript is off. This notice block out the majority of what seems to be a acceptably viewable page... How do I make it go away? Thanks

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  45. MattieG, interesting. I answered paciotti, but my answer seems to be gone.

    Anyway, you can enable Java Script for the sites you want to see JavaScript on. It used to be the default, but by popular demand I reversed the default.

    Just in case you were wondering. I don't plan to add a configurable option for the default of the configurable option at this time. If you want that submit a suggestion here: http://newsrob.uservoice.com.

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  46. Hi there,

    I jsut converted from Symbina to Android and love your app. One question remains: I also host a blog at Blogger.com and I do have a blogroll embedded in this blog - it seems those blogroll news are catched by NewsRob, too.

    I can't see this in Google Reader but I do have a category "bloglist1-blog.knecht-ruprecht.info" in NewsRob. Any chance how I can hide/disable this? It's confusing ...

    Thanks, Mario

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  47. Hey Mario,

    welcome on Android ;)

    Hmmh, never heard of that. I see something similar when "following" blogs using the blogger functionality.
    What you see is probably a bundle which you can see in Google Reader under "Browse for stuff" / "View your bundles".

    Anyway, no, you cannot turn it off.

    If you want that to be a feature, please submit it to http://newsrob.uservoice.com.

    On more general terms this feature suggestion would also help to deal with your issue: http://newsrob.uservoice.com/forums/35624-general/suggestions/450237-sync-only-certain-folders?ref=title

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  48. it takes about half an hr to sync with my google reader account through wifi connection. default settings, download articles and images only.

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  49. Sparandroid,

    which phase? I assume this is about the download phase and then you've got a site among your subscriptions that is very slow. I am currently trying to find a way to deal (skip?) those long sites: http://groups.google.com/group/newsrob/browse_thread/thread/779b1d01a35d7430

    Or do you talk about the initial sync? Well, downloading 1,000 articles may take that long.

    Anyway, that's not normal, but I can't say much without looking at a log. Instructions on how to create a log you'll find at the end of: http://bit.ly/nr_faq

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  50. i have about 360 subscriptions (feeds) in my google reader, after disabling 'Offline Use' it only takes about a minute to fetching articles. here's my details settings:

    download content default: Articles + Images

    Reading list: 100
    Starred articles: 100
    Shared articles: 50
    Notes: none

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  51. Sparanoid,

    ok, then it is the download phase that takes so long. With a log I could tell you which site is so slow.

    To further reduce the "minute" you can reduce the number of unread articles in your GR account, e.g. mark all articles that you won't read anymore as read like everything older than two weeks.
    Also Settings/Sync/Sync Type/Unread Only might work well for you too.

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  52. Hi I've just changed to a 16Gb SD card from a 4Gb and NewsRob seems to be hanging (was working great on the 4Gb card). When the screen saver kicks in on my HTC Desire, I can't get the screen to turn on either, without pulling the battery. Removing NR seems to fix this problem and I'm not having any problems with other apps atm. Any suggestions? anyone else having same problem? I can do some testing if required.

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  53. Hey Tim,

    no, I can't say. You could ask on the list if anybody else sees this? http://bit.ly/nr_list.

    You could also the install the free Log Collector app from the Market and send me a log file.

    Having said that, I don't want you to hold your breath that I'll find a solution. I am willing to look into that, but NewsRob doesn't run any native code so it is next to impossible to be the cause of such a behavior. What might be that NewsRob triggers it ...

    You could also create a NewsRob log and I'll have a look at it. At the end of the FAQ you'll find how to do that: http://bit.ly/nr_faq.

    Cheers,
    Mariano

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  54. If I can suggest a feature, I would like to see a ticker type widget showing the headlines. It would be more attention grabbing than an unread count and something I'd be more willing to pay for. Great Work on the app, btw. Cheers!

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  55. Swipe,

    there is already a suggestion for a headline widget, not for a ticker though. To be honest I am not even sure if that is possible with an Android app widget, but I could find out.

    Anyway, if you want that, feel free to submit it here: http://bit.ly/nr_suggest.

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  56. I really like NewsRob - it has been my only newsreader on Android for a long time. But there is one issue which is bogging me since the begging: NewsRob doesn't mark an article in those 2 scenarios:
    - open article
    - press title bar and select 'view in browser'
    - when I go back to NewsRob the article is still marked as unread

    - open article
    - read article
    - press home

    So the only way to mark an article read (instead of the swipe) seems to press the back button after reading it!?

    Could you change this behaviour?

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  57. Hi Kutzi.

    That's actually a feature that should help to reduce stress. It does so by minimizing chances of accidentally marking something as read and then "loosing" this article.

    It's actually feature I needed to add explicitly.

    If an article was unread when you enter the article detail view, it will be unread when you leave it, except when you explicitly hit the BACK button, or navigate to the next or previous article. Pressing HOME or answering a notification or a call or launching another app through sharing or launching the browser will mark the article as unread again (if it was unread before) and automatically mark is as read again when you return the article by pressing BACK (or hanging up the phone etc.).

    That the HOME button doesn't mark it as read is a technical issue. I cannot override that behavior. I cannot make the distinction between leaving the activity because of pressing HOME or because a call comes in etc.

    I would prefer not to change that behavior.

    Just btw. do you know that when you tap quickly on the title bar it will switch to the web view?

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  58. Hi Mariano,

    well I still tend to disagree :)
    If I enter the detail view, in 99% of the cases I will read the article (or decide that it isn't worth reading).
    Maybe if NewsRob could display the same article again when I reopen it, it would be less pain. But usually I end up at the overview, again, in NewsRob and have again look at the article, remember that I already looked at it and then mark it as read.
    Also, this behaviour matches the one of Google Reader where an article is also been marked as read if I open the details view. (Or at least with my settings in Google Reader. I remember vaguely that there may be a seeting to change that behaviour).

    I know about switching to the web view, but not all article render well in the web view, so I sometimes prefer the browser.
    Can't you at least mark an article as read, if I view in in the browser?

    thanks
    Christoph

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  59. Hi Christoph.

    >> If I enter the detail view, in 99% of the cases I will read the article (or decide that it isn't worth reading).<<
    Sure, and when you open it, the article gets marked as read automatically and when you then move to the next or previous article it stays read.

    >>Maybe if NewsRob could display the same article again when I reopen it, it would be less pain. But usually I end up at the overview, again, in NewsRob and have again look at the article, remember that I already looked at it and then mark it as read.<<
    I think now we are getting closer.
    How do you get back to the article? When you go to the browser and leave it by pressing BACK that is exactly what happens.
    Also, when you go back to NewsRob using the Recent Tasks Switcher you will also come back to the previous article (Long Press on Home gives you the Switcher). Only when you use the launcher icon then NewsRob will clear the activity stack and start afresh.

    >>Can't you at least mark an article as read, if I view in in the browser?<<
    I don't know if you succeed to view it in the browser. The site may not render properly at the moment, it may take longer than you expect or currently have time for, the connection might go away or you get distracted.
    And I chose that the lesser evil is when going BACK to see the original article again (that automatically gets marked as read then again) versus having to keep on your mind that you need to mark it as unread again when you can't finish it.

    Cheers,
    Mariano
    ps. Btw. there is also the mailing list (http://bit.ly/nr_list) where these things are discussed and you'll also get feedback / opinons / support from other users.

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