• Turn the lights down, dark mode has come to NewsBlur

    We’ve had dark mode on iOS and Android for years but I’m now pleased to announce a worthy dark theme has come to the NewsBlur web app.

    The origins for this theme came from the community. Originally started by Kemwer in 2013, it has been maintained and updated by Splike since 2014. In fact, you can still use Splike’s theme as an alternate dark mode.

    That’s 7 years of NewsBlur having an unofficial dark mode, but users had to jump through hoops to use it: installing a browser extension (which had a malware scare in 2018) or having to copy the Stylish CSS to NewsBlur’s Account settings where it would need to be manually updated. What NewsBlur needed was having it built in.

    Today NewsBlur is shipping first-class support. Building a dark theme requires more than inverting the existing color scheme, turning white to black and green to purple. Quite a bit of thought around UX and information hierarchy went into this dark theme design. I also used this as an opportunity to freshen up icons and small visual details on both light and dark themes.

    Now we have a consistent dark theme across all of the first-party apps. The Android app had dark mode first in 2014. Then came the iOS app is 2016. Now we’re firmly in 2020 and it’s made it to the web. Goes to show that NewsBlur is always getting better. 

    If you like the new features we’ve been releasing recently, I would greatly appreciate if you could share a tweet or Facebook post about NewsBlur. If you enjoy staying connected with culture and news through NewsBlur and you think your friends and followers would too, let them know about your news reader of choice. I appreciate all the kind comments that have come in since releasing this new theme.

    In love 🥰 with the new dark theme of @NewsBlur ! Kudos @samuelclay 👍

    — Jean Traullé (@jtraulle) June 24, 2020

    Ooooooooooooooo @NewsBlur pic.twitter.com/eG3XSXzuAG

    — Billy O’Neal (@MalwareMinigun) June 23, 2020

    And please keep the good ideas coming on the forum.

  • See the news on your Android dashboard with the new home screen widget

    Hot on the heels of the iOS widget release a few months ago, the Android widget is now ready to go!

    Check it out:

    Ideally both iOS and Android widgets would have been released at the same time. But now that we have a new Android developer, Andrei Dan, we’ve built the widget and are planning many more new features for Android.

    Everything I wrote for the iOS release holds for today’s Android widget:

    > Most of the time when we release a new feature, it finds immediate use. But every so often a new feature comes along that changes how NewsBlur gets used. I consider offline stories part of this exclusive club. Same with the Text view, which shows you the full text of a story. And push notifications are right up there.

    If you’re like me and you rely on your phone for your news consumption, having stories handy every time you look at your phone changes your relationship to NewsBlur.

    It’s so incredibly useful to have NewsBlur come to me. I hope you feel the same about this Android widget.

    If you have any feedback, ideas, or would like changes, please post them on the NewsBlur support forum.

  • Catch the news in a glimpse with the new NewsBlur Today View widget on iOS

    Most of the time when we release a new feature, it finds immediate use. But every so often a new feature comes along that changes how NewsBlur gets used. I consider offline stories part of this exclusive club. Same with the Text view, which shows you the full text of a story. And push notifications are right up there.

    Today, I’m pleased to announce the launch of our new Today View widget on iOS.

    Instead of having to open up the app to see what’s new, the stories come to you in the Today View, adjacent to the notification center. Personally I find myself checking this Today View widget a dozen times more than I open the NewsBlur app. It’s so incredibly useful to have NewsBlur come to me.

    Additionally, in version 10.0 of the iOS app, we have a bunch of new features:

    • A new iOS widget shows the latest stories in your Notification Center and on your iPad dashboard
    • Statistics visualization for every site
    • Automatic downloading of the original story full text for offline reading
    • Unsubscribe from a feed directly from a story
    • Preferences import & export

    And tons of bugs were fixed along with other small improvements:

    • Fixed crash on start for a few users
    • Fixed highlighting issue
    • Fixed settings with stories on bottom
    • Tweaked dark theme colors to be darker
    • Fixed wonky behavior on iPad
    • Clearing offline now clears the cached stories, text, and images from the database
    • Manually changing the theme now turns off the preference to follow the system appearance
    • Turning on following the system appearance immediately updates the theme appropriately
    • Fixed crash on feed load list
    • Fixed crash on start

    And if you’re an Android user, I just want you to know that we intended to ship this feature first on Android (and in fact, it is 90% built) but then our Android developer bailed. I’ll be hiring for another Android devleoper soon, but if that interests you, please reach out!

  • Secure images for everybody

    There are two ways to connect to the NewsBlur website. The first is http://www.newsblur.com. The second is https://www.newsblur.com. The first is plain text and the second is encrypted. You get to choose which one you want to use.

    Part of the draw of using an encrypted https connection instead of a plain text http connection is that you can protect your privacy. As far as I can tell, there are two reasons for preferring https over http.

    One is that using an encrypted https connection to NewsBlur protects what you read from hackers or a man-in-the-middle changing your data as it comes to you. This could be your internet service provider (ISP) inserting ads or it could be snooping wifi router that you are connected to that injects malware into your content. Some companies have been known to do this and https protects you.

    But the second reason is that your privacy is also protected from more benign, aggregate collections by ISPs and middlemen that sees what you read and sells that data. NewsBlur doesn’t sell any of your data and beginning this week NewsBlur can ensure that nobody other than you and the site you read can either.

    The feature that is launching this week (it actually launched Monday in order for me to ensure that it works well) is a secure image proxy for all images served on NewsBlur. That means that NewsBlur will take any images that isn’t behind an encrypted https connection and proxies it behind NewsBlur’s own secure, encrypted connection.

    You should notice next to no difference. The only difference you may notice is that some images may load faster, since NewsBlur has a thicker pipe to the Internet and can download data faster than your client browser can, which means that your persistent connection to NewsBlur’s servers takes over instead of having to make new connections with the associated overhead to various servers around the net.

    Now you can turn on the SSL setting on the NewsBlur Web and ensure your data stays private.

    And to answer the question of why you wouldn’t wan t to use https — it used to mean serving and loading pages over https gave a slight performance hit, but that’s no longer true. But some people use http because it will load images from both http and https websites, whereas loading NewsBlur via https means that you can only load images via https, as loading an image via http will throw up a Mixed Content Warning. This update addresses that issue and it is my hope that http-only will be phased out.

  • NewsBlur iOS v9: full screen, autoscroll, customizable story titles, story change highlighter, and return to last read story

    A whopper of a release with many, many new features!

    • Autoscroll: Read long stories hands-free
    • Full screen: Reading stories without the toolbar for a better experience
    • Longer story titles: New options for longer and shorter story title and content previews in the story titles list
    • Smaller image previews: New option for smaller image previews in the story titles list
    • Show story changes: All stories with edits now show a “Show Changes” button at the top that lets you see the differences
    • Return to last read story: When you return to the app, you will start where you left off
    • Return to last read scroll position: When you return to a story, you will automatically scroll to where you left off

    Take a look at some of the image and story title customizations you can now make:

    There’s also many smaller fixes that improve the polish of the app:

    • If you had a slow connection, some stories would take a while to draw while images were downloaded. Now they show immediately
    • Support for larger iPad Pros
    • Suport for iOS 13
    • Fixes for split mode on iPad
    • Fixes for marking stories as read while scrolling the story titles list
    • Fixes for navigating stories with an external keyboard
    • Fixes for scroll performance on the feed list and the story titles list
    • Fixes for sharing stories accidentally having double titles in emails and messages

    Thanks to David Sinclair for putting together this release. Keep up the great work! And if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in the next NewsBlur iOS release, please, please, please submit them to the forum.

  • Updates to the Android app and a new addition to the team

    Today we have a nice update, version 9.0, of the Android app that includes a rewrite of the story management backend as well as fixes for some critical display issues.

    Here’s the full list of changes for version 9.0:

    • Fixes black background for stories while reading with the Light theme.
    • Total rewrite of the backend story management platform. This fixes the oldest issues known in story paging and scroll state. The story rivers should now act like dynamic views instead of static lists.
    • New feature: renaming feeds directly in the app.
    • Improved messaging and display behavior for the original text view.
    • Fixes for the dark theme’s menu color.
    • Many other bug fixes and performance tweaks.

    I’d also like to introduce our newest developer, Caleb Allen.

    Caleb will be working on the Android app. Our Android developer Daniel spent the last 5 years with us working many, many versions of the NewsBlur app. I want to thank Daniel for his years of service and we wish him well on his next adventure. And here’s hoping for many fruitful years with Caleb!

  • The NewsBlur iOS app also hits version 8.0

    Fresh off the heels of the Android app hitting version 8.0, today I’d like to announce the latest update to the iOS app. This is a huge release and it’s got a lot of new features packed in it. I also want to welcome David Sinclair back to the team. He’s the builder behind all the incredible features in this release. Really wonderful having you back, David, and thanks for making v8.0 of the best news reader on a phone.

    Here’s what’s new:

    • NEW: Save stories offline
    • NEW: Share stories from other apps into NewsBlur with the new share extension
    • NEW: Scroll vertically between stories (can be turned on while reading a story)
    • NEW: 3D Touch links in stories to preview them
    • NEW: search for sites directly from the feed list
    • Switching themes no longer reloads the story
    • iOS 12 compatibility fixes
    • Upgrading to a premium subscription now handles App Store payment updates
    • Fixed issue where locking the device while playing a video over Airplay would stop the video

    Here’s a preview of what a 3D touch on a link looks like:

    And sharing stories from other apps directly to your blurblog is now easy to do from the share menu.

    Now that David’s back there’s a lot to look forward to.

  • The NewsBlur Android app hits version 8.0 with a new Grid view

    Long popular on the NewsBlur web app, the Grid view has now come to the Android app. Have a look for yourself…

    There’s even a wide and narrow grid view for ultimate customization. And the grid view is saved per-folder/feed, so you can change some folders to use the grid view while leaving others in a list view. And gestures work on individual grid tiles, so you can swipe to mark stories as read/unread while in the Grid view.

    Here’s a full list of the changes:

    • The grid view comes to Android. Each feed/folder has its own List view setting
    • Can scroll all the way past the last story (for marking-read while scrolling through story list)
    • Fix for Twitter videos
    • Fix crash for viewing muted feeds
    • Long press links and images without tags
    • Better login screen for very small devices
    • Improved efficiency on thumbnails
    • Story list position retained on rotate
    • Android 8 compatibility fixes
    • Color-blindness-friendly intelligence training

    And for those of you using the Amazon App Store, the NewsBlur Android app has been updated there as well.

  • Moving to a better support forum at forum.newsblur.com

    It’s about time NewsBlur had more control of its own support forums. For the past 7 years (to the week!), NewsBlur has been using Get Satisfaction for support, ideas, questions, and praise.

    In that time the forums have hosted 6,959 conversations with 6,432 members. And all of that has been imported into the new support forum at https://forum.newsblur.com.

    Every topic, every post, every like, and every user is still there. The URLs have changed but the search function is alive and well.

    Here’s the story with your account. It’s still there and you can inherit all of your posting history. But to use your account you will have to go through the forgot password flow, as the passwords were not able to be imported.

    Or create a new account. The point of the forum is to post ideas and questions and problems, so if your posting history doesn’t come with you, it’s not a big deal. It’s not like anybody answering the forums looks at your post count and decides whether or not to dive deeper into your question.

    I try to do my best in answering every single support thread. At the rates we’ve seen with nearly 7,000 posts in 7 years, that’s an average of 3 per day. Let’s keep the posts coming!

    And if you’re wondering about why I decided to upgrade, the answer is that the new forum software, Discourse, is open-source and allows me to better integrate the forums into other parts of NewsBlur. I have plans to build out the staff in the coming weeks and part of that includes a better support system.

    Thanks to Get Satisfaction for all the years of service. You and your cupcake avatars will be missed.

  • Intelligence training comes to NewsBlur’s Android app

    This is a big deal for Android users. The NewsBlur Android app now fully supports intelligence training and filtering, letting you filter out the stories you don’t want to read while highlighting the stories you do want by letting you filter titles, authors, tags, and the publisher.

    You used to be able to train by tapping on authors and tags right from the story, but that didn’t give you a bird’s eye view of an entire feed. You can now clear / modify old intelligence training without going back to the story that set it. And until now you had to use the web or iOS app to train on titles and the publisher itself. Now you can do it all from all of the apps. Check the FAQ for ideas on how to make use of the intelligence trainer.

    Here’s a list of all the new features in version 7.0 of the Android app:

    • New Intelligence Trainer. You can train feeds and individual stories: titles, authors, tags, and publishers.
    • New Infrequent Site Stories view. It’s configurable and will show up on iOS and the web soon.
    • Titles with intelligence training are now highlighted.
    • You can now switch between light and dark themes from any view.

    This is a huge release and we hope you’ll find that it makes the NewsBlur reading experience that much better.

subscribe via RSS