Why I Still Use Bloglines

Bloglines Mobile Google Reader on Android

I love what Google is doing for mobile; pushing the limits of device and OS capabilities with Android, championing HTML5 and the Web as the future of mobile applications and adopting a "mobile first" philosophy where new services are rolled out before or at the same time as their desktop counterparts.

But I do have a bone to pick with the way one of Google most popular web services, Google Reader, works on mobile.  I really wish I could use Reader on my Android phone and in Opera Mini on my Symbian. BlackBerry and feature phones, but I can't, it's way too slow and click or tap intensive.

So what do I use.  I know you will laugh at this but I'm still using Bloglines Mobile as my RSS reader.  I know, Bloglines is dated, ugly, slow to post updates  and unreliable with day long outages every few months.  Google Reader is attractive, loaded with cutting edge AJAX slickness and the Reader back end webservice is fast and rock-solid reliable. So why do stick with Bloglines? Simple, it lets me read my feeds on  my phones in half the time that it takes with Google Reader.

Why is that?  With the standard version of Bloglines Mobile (bloglines.com/mobile), taping the "N Updated Feeds" link at the top of  feed list (left image, above)  loads the full text of all the unread items in all subscribed feeds as one big page. Goggle Reader (image top, right) shows a list of the titles and requires you to click or tap on each one in order to read it.

Lets say I have 100 unread feed items.  On my HTC Magic Android phone, with Bloglines, it takes about 30 seconds and three taps to load those 100 items into a page. Then I just flick scroll to read them with no waiting time between items. Total taps: 3,  waiting time: 33 seconds.

With Google Reader (google.com/reader/i/)  it takes only a tap and about 3 seconds to load the titles of the first 15 items. But reading each item requires a tap and then a wait of approximately 2 seconds for the item's text to load. Every 15 items there's another tap and a three second wait on the  "Load More items..." link. Total taps: 116, waiting time: 248 seconds

All those taps and waits add up.  The actual time spent reading in the two apps is about the same, but with Google Reader I waste 400% more time waiting for the app and tap an extra 113 times to read the same 100 items.  That's 38 times as much tapping and four times as much waiting!

Every time Bloglines goes down for more than half a day I swear I will never use  that unreliable dinosaur again and switch to Google Reader.   But after a few days of using Reader I get so frustrated with its inefficiency that I run back to Bloglines, warts and all.

If any Googlers on the Reader team are reading this, please do your users a favor and throw together an alternate mobile reader interface that simply loads the full text of all the user's unread items in a single page. I think it would make a great 20% time project. Or maybe release that long promised Google Reader public API, preferably in App Engine friendly Python or Java,  so someone else could do it.

8 thoughts on “Why I Still Use Bloglines

  1. I'm still a Bloglines user in PC and in my Symbian S60 mobile. I don't like how Google Reader manipulates the feeds... Sadly, Bloglines is really more slow to post updates, but... I love it!

    I fear it early lose market to the big G. :'(
  2. Great post. What I miss in Greader is that they still do not have an Android App and I can not for example pull feeds when I have Wi-fi and then enjoy them offline in the bus :(
    • Opera Mini's feed reader would be OK if you only read your feeds in Opera Mini and if it didn't forget your list of subscribed feeds periodically.
  3. Wow... That's true! I agree. gReader should have a "View all feed in one page" button. gReader also need checkboxes beside feed item titles, just like gmail mobile, and the Bulk Action buttons. It will be the 'new mobile version' and the older will be the 'old mobile version'. Just put those 2 links in the bottom. I think it is a win-win solution for all of us. I am now considering to move to bloglines (if only they could import from gReader).
  4. Being an avid user of google reader, I am quite fond of the mobile version. It works quite well on my nexus one. I actually prefer the way it presents your articles in bits (15 articles at a time) rather than chucks (all articles). Reason why is because this allows me to mark items as read in small batches rather than all. It also allows me to comb through my feeds and only view, in full, the articles I want to read. The rest I can ignore and just mark it as read when I reach the bottom of the page. In the end, for me, it allows me to read through my list of articles faster. I would even say faster than on the desktop. I also would note that one issue I have with the desktop version is that it does not list your articles in bits in list view, as mentioned above, like the mobile version.

    That being said, this is only good on browsers where mobile google reader (www.google.com/reader/i) works well on. If you're on s60v3, I would suggest something else. That would be the combination of UCWEB v6.3 and the original wap mobile google reader site (www.google.com/reader/m). On my Nokia N78, this is the best method of reading my rss feeds that I've experience. The functionality of UCWEB is what makes the experience great. Main reason is the custom keypad shortcuts, notable being able to create a single key shortcut to open a link in a new tab in background and a shortcut to close current tab. Also UCWEB is the only browser that can rescale the images to fit screen width when set to adaptive mode in mobile google reader. Something opera mini can't do for this particular site.

    How I use it is quite odd. First open up the reader site and it would display the latest 10 unread articles, header only. Any articles that you want to read, click on it using a single key shortcut to open that article in a new tab in the background. Once you have all articles you want to view in new background tabs, click on the mark as read link, and again, open it in the background in a new tab. Now close the current page using a single key shortcut to close current tab. The first tabbed article you created should now be shown fully loaded. Read it and when you're done close the tab and read the next tabbed article, again fully loaded. Once you read all your articles, the last tab open should be the main google reader page showing your next 10 unread articles. And repeat the process again.

    I can speed through 100's of my feeds with this method on my N78. It also eliminates any loading time since everything loads in the background (with a decent connection though). However, there is a lot of button pressing needed. Though, I don't mine that at all once you get use to it.

    I can go on and on about this but I'll just leave it at that.
    • Thanks for your comment, Kiyo.

      I know that using http://www.google.com/reader/i doesn't work for me as that's what I tried. I don't like having to decide whether to read an item from its title. With Bloglines I can read a bit of the body of an item and if it doesn't interest me flick right past it to the next item.

      But your suggestion to to use http://www.google.com/reader/m in UCWEB is interesting, although still rather click intensive compared with the uninterupted reading experience that Bloglines provides. I'll try it next time Bloglines' back end goes down and I'm forced to use Reader.

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