• 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.

  • NewsBlur for iPhone X

    I’m proud to announce the launch of version 7.0 of the NewsBlur iOS app, complete with iPhone X support. There’s a lot that’s new and improved in this release.

    Also new to the release is that addition of in-app payments for a NewsBlur premium subscription. This was a long time coming. This upgrades the iOS app to match the experience on the web. And because in-app subscriptions are now live, the iOS app will now match the free account restrictions you’ll find on the web. As a reminder, NewsBlur is a paid service with free accounts that act as indefinite trials.

    Here’s a complete list of what’s new:

    • Built for iOS 11 and iPhone X
    • In app purchases allow you to upgrade to a premium subscription from inside the app
    • Drag-and-drop on iPad to share stories and images from NewsBlur
    • New view: Infrequent Site Stories shows stories from feeds that update less than once a day (premium only)
    • Theme manager in every view for quick color changes
    • Adding San Francisco font choice
    • Adding feed list and story list font size controls so you can change size directly from each view
    • Adding in-app Safari with Reader mode option
    • Scroll position is now saved, so when you return to a story you maintain your place
    • New mark as read button on iPad when in landscape or with story titles on bottom
    • Fixing image sizing on all iPhones and iPads
    • Updated many layouts for better future compatibility
    • Fixing unread count badge for users without notifications turned on
    • Fixing duplicate title/URL in Messages sharing (thanks Nicholas R!)
    • Fixing compatibility with Firefox (thanks Joe G!)

    I hope you enjoy the updated iOS app. I have plans to build new features on top of the app next year, when some huge features will make their debut.

  • Infrequent Site Stories is the blog reader we need

    Launching today on all three platforms—web, iOS, and Android—is the new Infrequent Site Stories view. This configurable river of news offers a view of stories only from the blogs that publish less often than 1 story per day.

    Most of what you see in your day-to-day feed is news that’s up to the minute and is probably stale within a day. Even 8 hour old news can be a problem. But sometimes what you want is an overview of the news that isn’t exactly news. It’s stories from the blogs who have individual authors, or blogs that publish only a few times a month. And missing out on those stories is a tragedy because it is those blogs that pushed you to invest in an RSS reader in the first place.

    Today I’m happy to introduce a new feature that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s called Infrequent Site Stories and you can find it at the top of your feed list on the web, on iOS, and on Android.

    Infrequent Site Stories is the river that captures stories from those authors who aren’t pulling from the firehose. These are the stories that are more thoughtful and more relevant days, weeks, months, or even years down the line. These stories are not to be missed. And the best thing about these stories is that there are far fewer of them than there are of your normal full river from All Site Stories.

    You can also configure the Infrequent river to be more or less inclusive of content that is more or less frequently published by changing the filter anywhere from 5 to 90 stories per month.

    These options are also available on all three official NewsBlur platforms and will let you perform a filter similar to how Focus mode reduces your number of unreads. It’s great to dip into Infrequent Site Stories and get stories you would ordinarily miss out on.

    Try out the new Infrequent Site Stories feed, available only to premium subscribers. If your experience is anything like mine, it’ll be one of the new must read feeds in your reader.

  • Improved Text view story extraction

    The Text view is one of the most popular NewsBlur features. It’s available on all three platforms and gives you the full text of the original story, even in truncated RSS feeds. Up until today, NewsBlur’s implementation of the Text view used Readability’s open source text extractor.

    Starting today, all stories will be run through Postlight Labs’ Mercury Parser. That means that not only will the full text be more likely to correctly pull the entire article, but it will also do a much better job with extracting full size images in stories.

    Take a look:

    A welcome improvement. This new text extractor and parser also does a better job of handling Unicode and Chinese characters. And when it doesn’t extract text as well as the old text extractor, NewsBlur will automatically fallback on the old method.

  • Launching real-time filterable push notifications for iOS, Android, web, and email

    For some sites, you want to know when they publish as soon as they publish. Maybe you want to immediately be notified of everything a site publishes, like a monthly meetup that posts an event only once a month. Or perhaps you want to be immediately notified of everything the NYTimes publishes about the companies in your stock portfolio. Or you just really enjoy reading your daily comics and want them emailed to you so you never miss a beat.

    Today I’m proud to launch push notifications simultaneously across all three native platforms on NewsBlur (that’s web, iOS, and Android). That means that you can setup notifications for all Unread stories or only Focus stories that you’ve trained to be pushed to you over email, iOS, Android, or through browser notifications on the web.

    You can setup all four types of notifications on both web and mobile. And you can employ your intelligence training to only surface the stories that have use certain tags, have specific keywords in the titles, or are written by specific authors. Additionally, it’s easy to hide stories using that same training so that you don’t receive notifications that you want to ignore.

    Push notifications on iOS

    To start with notifications on iOS, you can use the new swipe-to-the right gesture on the feed list (replacing the trainer on the swipe gesture). It’s very easy to turn notifications on and off or to even step up the filtering on a site so that you only get Focus stories instead.

    This way you can overprovision notifications for yourself and easily dial them back to where you get just the right number of notifications.

    Today version 7.0 of the NewsBlur iOS app is being released and here’s a list of what’s new and fixed on iOS:

    • Push notifications: real-time push notifications on a per-feed basis.
    • Swipe-to-the-right on a feed to change its notifications.
    • A new optional app badge for unread counts. Enable under Preferences.
    • Stories now automatically are marked as read on scroll. Disable under Preferences.
    • Better image support on iPad and fixes for drag-and-dropping the story titles bar (at bottom of the story detail).
    • A note on that: you can move story titles to the bottom on iPad. Just drag the bottom bar up.
    • Fixed issue with sharing stories not working or disappearing on iPad.
    • Fixed theme issues in the activity share sheet.
    • Fixed a crash from opening stories with no permalink.
    • Fixed size of intelligence control on bottom of feed list on iPhone SE.
    • Fixed issues when story titles are set to the bottom layout on iPad.
    • Fixed issues with the interactions dialog.

    Notifications on Android

    Android also gets a new version today. Version 6.0 gets notifications and new custom reading fonts as well as the mark read on scroll behavior that iOS and web have enjoyed.

    Here’s a list of what’s new and fixed on Android:

    • Mark as read on scroll is a new preference to automatically mark stories as read as you scroll past them.
    • New fonts for reading: Whitney, Chronicle, Gotham Narrow make their way to Android from the web.
    • Also supporting native Android fonts Noto Sans, Noto Serif, Open Sans Condensed, and Anonymous Pro.
    • Switching between Text and Story view is now sticky per-feed (similar to iOS and web).
    • Fixed issues where feed list would not update.

    Notifications on Web

    Browser notifications are handy for those sites that you only want to read on your desktop. For example, you could setup web notifications for an RSS feed for a status feed, letting you know when migrations and downtime will have some effect on you.

    Setting up and tuning notifications is also just as easy to do on the web. You’ll find it under Manage > Notifications as well as in the Read Filter Popover (top right of the app) when reading an individual feed.

    Notifications over Email

    Finally, for those use cases not covered under web or mobile, you can now have websites automatically email you when they publish new stories.

    This is for those stories that you don’t want to miss and want to ensure that you read. For instance, I use email notifications for worrydream’s quote blog that serves me a single paragraph of insight once a week because I loved having quotes emailed to me.

    There you have it, four new ways to consume the news. If you love using NewsBlur and want to see it continue to launch new features like these, please tell friends and followers about your news reader. People often ask for ways to stay on top of the game and NewsBlur is the most powerful way to do it.

  • NewsBlur now supports the new JSON Feed spec

    Introduced and announced only last week by open web pioneers Manton Reece and Brent Simmons, JSON Feed is a new RSS-like spec that lets websites publish their stories in a much easier and human readable format.

    From the JSON Feed spec authors:

    We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs.

    Starting today, NewsBlur now officially supports the new JSON Feed spec. And there’s nothing extra you have to do. This means if a website syndicates their stories with the easy-to-write and easy-to-read JSON format, you can read it on NewsBlur. It should make no difference to you, since you’re reading the end product. But to website developers everywhere, supporting JSON Feeds is so much easier than supporting XML-based RSS/Atom.

    Daring Fireball, as pictured above, supports the new JSON Feed. To you, the reader, it should look no different than any other RSS feed. But to the developer, publishing this as a JSON Feed instead of XML is an order of magnitude easier and quicker.

    This spec is a terrific effort by open web advocates to make it easier to keep the web open and free by lowering the cost to writing and publishing.

    Try it for yourself, just subscribe to this feed: https://daringfireball.net/feeds/json. Even viewing it in a web browser is more pleasant than its XML counterpart.

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