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.
The iOS apps are finding themselves host to a whole slew of additions and enhancements. Today I get to tell you about the iOS app’s newest feature: the Text view.
You can already use the Text view on the web. It’s great for extracting the story’s content on demand and helps you stay on a single tab to do all of your reading.
If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can now use the Text view by hitting the Text/Story button on the bottom left of the story detail pane.
On Android? Don’t you worry, major updates are finishing up as we speak, and soon the Android app will reach full feature parity with the iOS app. It’s just a matter of time.
ReadKit, a native Mac app for reading Instapaper, Pocket, and NewsBlur on your desktop, completes the RSS reading trifecta. NewsBlur has a web app, native iOS app, and now a native Mac app.
While this is not an official app, it’s certainly the best desktop app for NewsBlur. In time more NewsBlur-specific features will be added, such as shared stories (blurblogs), training and separate unread counts in focus mode, and saved stories.
If you’re a developer and want to make your own NewsBlur app, use the free NewsBlur API. You can charge for your app and enjoy all of the benefits of the NewsBlur backend.
Download ReadKit to enjoy offline reading on your Mac.
Hot on the heels of the redesign launch, I’m already putting out new features. There are a number of post-redesign priorities on my list, but one of the most requested features is to customize the keyboard shortcuts.
After looking into the common refrain of customizable keyboard shortcuts, I identified the five keys that folks are talking about 99% of the time: the four arrow keys and the space bar. These keys can now be configured well beyond what you would expect.
These features are only available to premium subscribers and I hope you like them. If you have additional customization suggestions, hop on the support forum and let me know.
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.
It’s a full scale redesign, too. And not just one of those redesigns where the icons get glossier and fonts, bolder. Every moving piece of machinery got more than a coat of paint. A number of new crucial reading features have been added. Some features were merged, some were repaired, and some were scrapped.
Dashboard before & after:
Reading before & after:
In no particular order, here’s what’s new:
And that’s just for the website. The iOS app, Android app, and blurblogs all got the update goodness that has graced the web app.
As for what’s happening these days, post-Reader:
Biggest unanticipated consequence of the Reader shutdown – I no longer have to wear a jacket in SF because my core temperature has risen.— Samuel Clay (@samuelclay)
And if you’re new to NewsBlur, here’s the six core benefits to using the one with the Sun:
Now that the redesign has launched, I plan to blog about how to best use the intelligence trainer efficiently, all new [future] features, and how I was able to successfully scale out the four databases (count ‘em: postgresql, mongodb, redis, elasticsearch) to handle more than 10,000 users and 4 million site updates a day. It’s no Tumblr, but it’s still way more traffic than you can fit on a single machine.
Thanks for using NewsBlur and turning my passion project (four years running) into a full-time dream.
At 4:16pm last Wednesday I got a short and to-the-point email from Nilay Patel at The Verge with only a link that started with the host “googlereader.blogspot.com”. The sudden spike in NewsBlur’s visitors immediately confirmed — Google was shutting down Reader.
I had been preparing for a black swan event like this for the last four years since I began NewsBlur. With the deprecation of their social features a year ago I knew it was only a matter of time before Google stopped supporting Reader entirely. I did not expect it to come this soon.
As the Storify history of the Reader-o-calypse, NewsBlur suffered a number of hurdles with the onslaught of new subscribers.
I was able to handle the 1,500 users who were using the service everyday, but when 50,000 users hit an uncachable and resource intensive backend, unless you’ve done your homework and load tested the living crap out of your entire stack, there’s going to be trouble brewing. Here’s just a few of the immediate challenges I faced over the past four days:
Paypal’s fraud department just called, asked me what’s going on. Asked the rep from Omaha if she’s heard of Reader, and then a big Ohhh.— NewsBlur (@NewsBlur) March 17, 2013
As a one-man-shop it has been humbling to receive the benefit of the doubt from many who have withheld their judgment despite the admittedly slow loadtimes and downtime NewsBlur experienced. Having the support of the amazing NewsBlur community is more than a guy could ask for. The tweets of encouragement, voting NewsBlur up on replacereader.com (If you haven’t yet, please tweet a vote for "#newsblur to #replacereader"), and the many positive comments and blog posts from people who have tried NewsBlur is great.
It has also been a dream come true to receive accolades from the many who are trying NewsBlur for the first time and loving it. Since the announcement, NewsBlur has welcomed 5,000 new premium subscribers and 60,000 new users (from 50,000 users originally).
Over the next three months I’ll be working on:
For those of you who are still trying to decide where to go now that you’re a Reader refugee let me tell you a few of the unique things NewsBlur has to offer:
With NewsBlur’s native iOS app and Android app, you can read your news and share it with your friends anywhere. And with the coming improvements over the next three months, you bet NewsBlur will be the #1 choice for Google Reader refugees.
Join NewsBlur for $24/year and discover what RSS should have been.
Here at NewsBlur HQ, we love greeting each new day by seeing what everyone posts on their blurblogs, but we understand that not everyone might want to have their reading preferences broadcast to the public (or have the public broadcast its opinions on said preferences). So we’re introducing a special new service for premium account holders that allows you to protect your posts from prying eyes.
Just click the little sprocket in the bottom left of your dashboard and select “Profile & Blurblog,” where you’ll be given one of three options:
Go forth and privatize! It’ll be our little secret, at least until we discover that one of you is having an affair with your biographer.
There are lots of reasons not to post a cool article you’ve seen to your blurblog. Maybe you already follow too many blogs, and don’t have room to add any more to your feed (in which case, may we humbly recommend a Premium account?) Maybe you don’t want everyone to know just how crazy you’ve gotten about jai-alai or aerotrekking or My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Or maybe you found a cool article on Facebook or Twitter or through an e-mail from a friend, and don’t want to go through the hassle of adding the site’s whole feed to your NewsBlur dashboard just to post one piece.
That’s what the NewsBlur bookmarklet tool is for. Whether it’s a great article from a site that you don’t like enough to follow regularly, or a first glimpse at an intriguing new site, the bookmarklet makes it easy to post anything you find around the Web to your blurblog.
Setting up the bookmarklet tool is easy: Click on the little sprocket in the bottom left of your dashboard, and choose “Goodies & Extras” from the menu. You’ll see “Add Site & Share Story Bookmarklet,” and next to that, a button that says “Share on NewsBlur.” Drag the button to the Bookmarks Bar in your browser, and you’re in business.
The next time you see an article that strikes your fancy, just click the bookmarklet and the NewsBlur window will open. (If you click it by accident or decide you don’t want to share, just click anywhere outside of the box, and you’ll be back where you started.) The bookmarklet automatically selects all text on a page by default, but if you only want to blog a certain chunk of a story, just highlight it beforehand, and it’ll appear solo in the box.
You can also type within the box to edit the headline and text or delete any extraneous junk that may have wandered in. Add a comment of your own, click “Share This Story,” and you’re on your way. It’s frankly almost too easy, so be sure you’re in the right browser tab when you launch it— Allie once accidentally posted the contents of her Gmail inbox to her blurblog when she wasn’t paying attention. If any of you happened to be on there in those two minutes, she hopes you enjoyed the sneak peek into her darkest secrets, like all the books she has on hold at the library.
Using the bookmarklet is awesome and makes NewsBlur’s content (and by extension, the Popular blog) far more interesting and diverse, so get out there and drag back the best of the Web to share with your fellow users. As Richard Marx would put it: Wherever you go, whatever you do (on the Internet, at least), the NewsBlur bookmarklet will be right here waiting for you.