This is not just any font and style manager. You now have control over font size, line spacing, story layout, and type faces directly in the reading view. This nifty popover gives you quick access to all of these customizable features.
The type faces come from Hoefler & Co. (née Hoefler & Frere-Jones) which is the premier web type foundry. It’s also one of the most expensive, but that’s where the incredible font quality comes from.
The four new fonts are:
These new fonts are available immediately for premium users. Another great reason to pay for NewsBlur.
In this industry, you gotta be tough.
I’m just kidding. We’re a bunch of literates who enjoy reading so much that we built our own news readers. But when a behemoth like Google makes a call that places you at the business end of 100,000 frantic power users, reminding yourself how tough you are is one way of dealing with the madness.
Google announced Reader’s sunset at 4pm on March 13th, 2013. At that point I had spent three and a half years building my vision of a better news reader. I clearly wasn’t doing it for the money, since my paltry salary didn’t even cover my market rate rent in San Francisco. RSS was a decidedly stupid technology to piggyback off of to try and cover that financial disconnect.
Take a look at this graph. It shows NewsBlur’s income versus its expenses for the past 16 months. Just look at those few months before the Google Reader shutdown announcement in March 2013.
It was never hard to justify to others why I worked on a news reader for three-some years, partially because I’d been justifying it to myself for so long. I had the delusion that it would all work itself out in the end, so long as I kept pushing my hardest and shipping features users wanted. And, at the time, with 1,000 paying subscribers, it certainly felt like I was getting somewhere.
If you’re curious about why expenses are so high, think about what it takes to run a modern and popular news reader. This graph breaks down expenses for an average month from the past year.
Fast forward a year and let hindsight tell you what’s what. I was irrational to think that I could make it on my own in a decaying market, what with all the air sucked out by Google. But that three year hallucination kept me persevering to build a better product, which positioned NewsBlur well as a strong candidate for a Reader replacement. When the sunset announcement dropped, it didn’t take long to fortify the servers and handle all the traffic. NewsBlur permanently ballooned up to 20X the number of paid users. People flocked to NewsBlur because it was among the furthest along in creating real competition. As we say on NewsBlur, the people have spoken.
I run a very opinionated news reader. If you think somewhat like I do, you couldn’t be more pleased with the direction NewsBlur goes. But this is still a power tool, and in a world of casual readers who don’t care where their news is coming from so long as it’s in their interests and matches their biases, NewsBlur is the coffee equivalent of the AeroPress. Most people want drip coffee and they don’t bother wasting mental energy on caring about the difference in taste or quality. It’s a binary to them: coffee or no coffee. There’s nothing wrong with that, they just choose to focus on other things more important to them than the sourcing or control they have of their coffee.
Many competing news readers are visual and offer a similar experience. When you want to give up control in exchange for the digested output of sophisticated and heartless algorithms, they’re your best bet. When you want to exert control and know what you want and from which sources, NewsBlur is the only option. No other reader gives you training, statistics, and sharing in one multi-platform app. Nobody else cares so much about RSS as to work on a news reader when it was still a financial inevitability of failure.
If the past is any indication, NewsBlur is going to continue to see many more improvements. This graph of contributions from the past 365 days shows my level of unwavering dedication.
Meanwhile, I’m using the windfall to develop a secret project that will complement NewsBlur in a way that hasn’t been tried before with any reader. And if that fails, I’ll find an even better way to make my users happy with their purchase. If you thought I was relentless before March 13th, 2013, just wait until you see what I’m capable of with the finances to build all the big ticket features I’ve been imagining for years.
And while you’re here, do me a favor and tweet about NewsBlur. Tell your followers, who are probably looking for a better way to read news, about how much you rely on NewsBlur. Reading positive tweets about NewsBlur every morning (and afternoon and evening and before bed) make this the best job I’ve ever had.
Today marks the release of version 4.0 of the NewsBlur iOS app. To illustrate the significance of this release I’d like to talk about where the app has been.
The first version of the NewsBlur iOS app was actually just an iPhone app. It launched in October 2011 and only allowed you to read your feeds individually. Within months the river of news (reading by folder) was added, along with better sharing controls, intelligence training, sharing to your blurblog, and the May 2013 re-design.
But similarly to the web, I wasn’t particularly proud of the app until I hit a major milestone. On the web, I hit that milestone with the May 2013 re-design. In the blog post announcing the wide ranging re-design, I wrote:
Not to say that NewsBlur was ugly before today, but it certainly didn’t have the loving embrace of a talented designer. So without waiting another moment (or month) I proudly present the NewsBlur redesign.
Fast forward to today where I am finally releasing an iOS app that I’m proud of. This one comes with a ton of great features, both for iPhone and iPad.
If you want to tweet something along the lines of “Holy crap, the NewsBlur iOS app is nice! Only took four years” that would be alright. Download the free NewsBlur iOS app, and if you find yourself enjoying it, please leave a positive five star review on the App Store.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to automatically copy your saved stories over to Evernote or Twitter or Pinboard? What about an automatic way to keep track of your unread focus (trained) stories in Buffer or Delicious or Dropbox?
IFTTT (if this then that) is a free web service that automates the movement of data from NewsBlur to dozens of other web services. It also handles movement of data from dozens of other web services back into NewsBlur. Today IFTTT is launching a NewsBlur channel where you can take advantage of their incredible glue that binds dozens of web service like NewsBlur in unique and customizable ways.
The best part about these IFTTT recipes is that the triggers can be customized to fit a specific saved story tag or blurblog or folder or feed. When you create a recipe using NewsBlur, you can choose which of your own feeds or tags you want to use.
You can also choose to only use unread focus (trained) stories. So you can filter out stories you don’t want to read and highlight the stories you do want to read using the Intelligence Trainer.
Here’s a sample of IFTTT recipes that you can use today for moving your data from NewsBlur out to other services:
You can also take data from other services and move it into NewsBlur:
Mix and match and create your own IFTTT recipes using the NewsBlur channel. And if you put together a good recipe, it’ll get featured both on IFTTT and on NewsBlur.
It’s one thing to follow a handful of sites and use NewsBlur’s training to only read the stories you want to read. But sometimes you want to come back to stories long after you’ve read them. You could save the story, but then you would have to either scroll down your saved story list to find the story, or use the new search feature to find it by title or author.
Today I would like to introduce a big new feature: saved story tagging. It works like this. When you save a story, it is automatically tagged with all of the folders that the site is part of.
After the story is auto-tagged by folder, you can then add your own tags, which are autocompleted by previously used tags. You can also click a button to auto-tag the story with its own tags, easily clicking on the tags you want to remove.
You can also search per-tag and soon you will be able to rename and delete tags. There are more plans to integrate tagging into both iOS and Android apps.
Saved story tags also have RSS feeds. This is a big deal, since this allows you to save stories and have them automatically ingested by IFTTT for use elsewhere. You already could share stories over your blurblog, but now you have a private RSS feed that gives you far greater control.
Stay tuned because there are even more big features coming soon. Telling your friends about NewsBlur, whether on Twitter and Facebook or when spying over their shoulder and noticing that they’re hitting the same dozen sites over and over again without letting the sites come to them with new stories, goes a long way towards getting new features built. More users means more premiums which means more features getting built. It’s a vicious cycle.
A few small new features to get your first full week of the new year started off right.
A common feature request has been automatic syntax highlighting in blog posts. This feature uses auto-detection to highlight code. For short snippets of code, this means that they could have inaccurate highlighting, although in testing it’s not so bad to have a few words in various colors. But for any substantial amount of code, you’ll have an easier time following along with syntax highlighting.
Videos from Youtube and Vimeo (and a few others) are now stretched to fit the window, resulting in bigger video previews.
Previously, if you clicked the little footnote reference1, you would be taken to a new window. The Feed view now smoothly scrolls you to the footnote, where you can then return back to the footnote. Easy!
Like this. ↩
The single biggest criticism I’ve heard of the Android app is that it can be slow when loading feeds and then loading stories. That changes today with the release of version 3.5 of the NewsBlur Android app.
Here’s what’s new:
And remember that only a month and a half ago, version 3.0 hit the Play Store and the Kindle Store with these great features:
There’s more coming to the NewsBlur Android app, now that it’s reached speed parity with the iOS app. Look forward to lots of updates, improvements, and new features.
This week brings us a minor, but major, update for the NewsBlur iOS app. Several new features, some due to new APIs in iOS 7, have made it into the app.
Here’s what’s new:
Coming up I have a big ticket feature that is just about ready to launch. Stay tuned for saved story tagging, which will also make its way into the Android and iOS app soon.
Download the latest and free NewsBlur iOS app.
Hot on the heels of version 3.0 of the NewsBlur iOS app comes the next version of the Android app. A bunch of new features have made it into this release, including the new story navigation pane and the text view.
Here’s what you can see today in the Android app:
Apple’s latest operating system for iOS is a departure from their old aesthetic. So I’ve decided to give the NewsBlur iOS app a slightly new look. But even more than how the app looks is how the app works. Tons of new features made it into this mega-release.
The iPad app also has a new view for extra-wide reading while in portrait orientation.
I hope you enjoy this latest update. And stay tuned for the next update coming soon which will include even more iOS 7 features: Dynamic Text Size and Background Updates. The NewsBlur iOS app is and will always be free.
Today I’m launching version 3.0 of the iPhone and iPad app for NewsBlur. This major update brings loads of big features that combine to make the world’s best iOS news reader with the fastest sync in town.
The biggest feature since this Spring’s redesign is finally here. As always, the iOS app is a free download.
While I love shipping new features and fixing bugs, the single largest user request was neither a feature nor a bug. NewsBlur allows for two weeks of unread stories. Once a story is more than 14 days old, it would no longer show up as unread. The justification for this was simple: you have a week to read a story, and have a second week as a grace period.
But after scaling out to tens of thousands of users, a new pattern emerged. Some users would go on vacation for two weeks at a time and then want to catch up on everything they missed. Some users only check RSS once a month. Some users just want to leave lightly updated feeds alone until they have free time to read them, and that can take a few weeks to get to.
Starting today, all premium users are automatically upgraded to 30 days of unread stories. Free standard users will remain at 14 days. I wish I could have offered the full 30 days to everybody, but after testing that out, my server and performance graphs all made a very scary movement up.
With the new 30 day unread interval in place, NewsBlur has a great track record in listening to user feedback and working out a solution, however large the task may be.
Here’s a few big improvements for the NewsBlur website.
Marking as read can go back a configurable amount: 1, 3, 7, and 14 days back.
You may be thinking to yourself, 1, 3, and 7 days back makes sense, but why 14 if the unread limit is at 14 days? Why, having 14 days as an option would only make sense if the full limit was… (stay tuned).
Search, which can easily be considered one of the most important features of a world-class news reader, is also one of the most difficult features to build.
While working on the feature, I came across a great method that allows searching through story titles, authors, and tags on a per-feed basis. It’s not perfect and it’s not the full feature, but this will get us 80% of the way there.
Also comes with a handy keyboard shortcut (and a refactored keyboard shortcut dialog).
You can also search your saved stories and shared stories. This feature will soon find it’s way to both Android and iOS, and is available today to all premium users.
Last year I was proud to be able to send a free t-shirt and handwritten note to every single user who requested one. It took a few days of writing, stuffing, and mailing to send out a couple hundred t-shirts.
I’m pleased to announce that this year’s t-shirt is a puzzle with every single letter being part of a 4+ letter word. I’m using Teespring for fulfillment and order processing. While it’s not free, I am making absolutely zilch profit, so I can keep the t-shirt price to the absolute minimum.
Impress your friends with your esoteric yet exquisite taste in t-shirts. But you’d better move quickly, you only have until July 31st, one week from now, to order the t-shirt. Order the 2013 NewsBlur t-shirt on Teespring.