Thursday, December 30, 2010

NewsRob December Release / 4.6

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NewsRob December Release / 4.6

New Authentication

NewsRob now supports the built-in authentication mechanism for Android 2.1+ devices that have the Android Market.

For now the old approach, the classic method, still works too. However when your Google Reader session expires, after 14 days, you will be asked to use the new method. Please do that unless you encounter any problems or you use an old Google Apps For Your Domain account.

Google Apps For Your Domain accounts that have not yet been migrated to become proper Google accounts don't work with the new mechanism. You will not see any articles.
When Google finishes the migration of all the old accounts the classic authentication mechanism will be turned off for Android 2.1+ devices.

If you have any problems, let me know on the mailing list. At least in this release you can always logout and use the classic method.

Exact Syncing

You can skip this part if you are not frequently switching between NewsRob and the Google Reader web app / other 3rd party apps.

If you're not into details / techno mumbo jumbo you may also skip this section and hope that NewsRob does the right thing by default, which it probably does.

Unfortunately Google dropped an API that NewsRob was relying on to sync efficiently. The effect is that state changes for articles that are already on your phone will not be synced. More specifically the removal of those states will not be synced. In particular this is about the read, starred, liked and shared state.

Here is the essence: If you unstar an article after it is already available on your phone, the article on your phone will still keep the star.

This may be a big issue for you, if your workflow relies on that, but for most users it probably isn't.

There is a way for NewsRob to cope with that situation. Unfortunately it is less efficient in terms of computing time and bandwidth than it was before when the proper API was still in place. In the big scheme of things it is not a drama though. Downloading articles etc. still takes more time and bandwidth than the work around.

I called the work around "Exact Syncing".
It explicitly syncs each article's state with the server side.

By default it only runs when you are on WiFi or the last exact sync is more than 24 hours ago. However if your workflow relies on the exact states of the articles at all times then you should turn on "Always Use Exact Syncing", which does exactly that.


Besides a lot of small improvements and bug fixes NewsRob now also supports the ADWNotifier of ADWLauncher.

Due to popular demand the action bar is now also available for devices with small screens.
Because of bugs in Android 2.0, it is not available for devices with Android 2.0/2.0.1 anymore though. If you want to use the action bar please upgrade to Android 2.1 ... and sorry for the crash the previous version caused for Android 2.0 devices ;(

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NewsRob November Release / 4.5

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NewsRob November Release / 4.5

New Action Bar

NewsRob now sports an action bar that is more in line with what meanwhile seems to be the standard way on Android. It mimics the visual appearance and functionality of the Twitter app's action bar

From left to right:

Tapping on the NewsRob logo always brings you back to the Dashboard (the home screen).

Tapping on the title will give you some contextual information: On the article list it is the chosen feed, on the feed list it is the chosen label and on the dashboard a tap will reveal the last time a sync has run.

Tapping on the refresh icon will trigger a sync as before, but with a twist. The sync icon will turn into a circular progress indicator. Tapping it will reveal a detailed progress indicator. Tapping it again will hide it.

You can also interrupt a running sync by tapping on the "Stop" button.

This functionality replaces the sync-in-progress notification from before and so hopefully this will be the end of some devices randomly rebooting during sync.

Tapping on the check mark will mark all articles of the current view as read. Depending on your settings a confirmation dialog will be shown first.

Tapping on the circular button will toggle between show / hide read articles.

Not depicted above, but available on the article list, is an arrow up / down icon. Tapping it will toggle the sort order "newest first" and "oldest first".

In line with the Android standards the action bar is on the top. In the settings however, you can set the location of the action bar to the bottom or disable it completely.
For Android 1.5 devices and for devices with small screens (Xperia X10 mini, HTC Tattoo & Wildfire) the action bar is always disabled.

With this release usage data collection is re-introduced. There is a dialog in NewsRob that will explain this to you in more detail and asks you for to explicitly allow this usage data collection. Without this permission no data will be collected.

Thanks to Roman Nurik for giving me some great recommendations regarding NewsRob's UI. Some of the results you will see in this release, e.g. more spacious article list, and some in the releases to come.