The Official Feed Viewer Blog
Consuming as less network bandwidth as possible was always a priority. Feed Viewer client is downloading a lot of images. They are preprocessed by Feed Viewer online service. Tile images are resized and encoded into JPEG XR format. This format is very good but it is limited to Windows devices only. There is a lack of image libraries that would be supporting this format. Windows 10 is inconsistent because Live Tiles still missing JPEG XR support. Feed Viewer will be available on another platform soon and adoption of portable image format is necessary.
Almost all of Feed Viewer users have upgraded their devices to Windows 10. Windows Phone 8.1 support ended on July 11, 2017. Windows 8.1 will reach end of mainstream support on January 9, 2018. Feed Viewer for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 will become unsupported on January 2018.
We have decided to remove the necessity to login with Microsoft account. In the past, it was a good reason because it allowed users to use the same identity on multiple devices. It worked well until Microsoft introduced on screen software buttons. The Microsoft account login dialog was never adapted to software buttons and did not work well. The second reason why we are abandoning Microsoft account is its unreliability dated on March 7. The third reason comes from fact that vast majority of users does not trust Microsoft that signing in with Microsoft account in third party application is safe for them. Microsoft does not communicate well enough that app receives only an anonymous identification unique to the user.
We have just released quite a big update. The effort was focused on three scenarios and in each of them we tried to make Feed Viewer as reliable as possible.
Feed Viewer has received another update which is more important than others. It is now possible to show headlines already marked as read. Rich hamburger menu can be used for navigation and feeds can be grouped into categories. Use the right mouse button to show context menu on desktop PCs or the hold gesture on Windows Mobile. Feed Viewer will also adapt on your system color to better fit into your device.
Feed Viewer has started to support the import of your subscription from Feedly. With this step, we want to eliminate the barrier which prevents many users to adopt the app. Sources are imported immediately after you sign in with your Feedly credentials. New headlines are shown right after that. In case the source is not yet known to our service there could be a slight delay because preprocessing on the server side is kind of heavy. This is done to achieve the greatest performance possible on the physical device.
We have published Feed Viewer for Windows 10 three days after the Windows Store was opened for app publishers. It was necessary because Windows 10 did not guarantee the Windows 8.1 application compatibility. In following weeks, we have converged Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 user interfaces into the unified Windows 10 responsive interface. This also means that swiping between articles becomes available on tablet PCs too. Developing a Windows Universal App requires to have Windows 10 installed. We have to drop Windows Phone 7.1 support because Windows 10 does not support Windows Phone 7.8 SDK. We also dropped Windows 8 support because Windows 8.1 was released 2 years ago, and the upgrade is free. Feed Viewer for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 is still supported.
Last half a year was revolutionary for Windows Phone from a developer perspective. Windows Runtime was extended from Windows 8.1 to Windows Phone 8.1. This is a successor of Silverlight environment which all apps are built on. Feed Viewer was redesigned from the ground up to take advantage of a modern Windows Runtime. The benefit for user is a fact that Feed Viewer downloads latest content in the background. Device will cache fresh content without need to run an app. This allows reading of the latest content in offline mode. It is also possible to subscribe to multiple sources at once. Mainstream sources were divided into categories. But the biggest improvement is fluid swiping between articles.
Feed Viewer wants to deliver best visual experience. Finding dominant image on the page is not an easy task. Sometimes even the best approach fails. Mostly in case when article you want read does not contain any images. When this occurs, the screenshot of the whole page is taken and pasted as a representative image. This cannot be done by Feed Viewer browser because it is text based. Screenshot is taken by other widely used browser instead. We have started with Firefox, later switched to Chrome and finally discovered that Internet Explorer perfectly fits our needs. Using IE for taking screenshots in virtual machine is a little bit tricky and takes more time to implement, but once runs, it runs forever. Previous Firefox or Chrome based solutions were unstable due to frequent breaking changes in browser updates. Internet Explorer based solution enables upgrading to latest version with minimal effort.
The essential of the web is a hyperlink. No more table of contents, indexes or footnotes. Interactivity is its inherent ability. Every web browser should respect that. Feed Viewer now supports italic, bold and underlined text as well as content images. When article contains a link, you can now click on it. In case article contains an image, you can see them scaled to your screen. You can now browse the content like in HTML based browser. Feed Viewer acts more naturally and comfortably.
Despite the Feed Viewer is a Windows Phone 7 application, it supports wide tile. You can resize the tile to small, normal or wide size on Windows Phone 7.8 or Windows Phone 8 device. When you set wide tile, you can also evaluate its live functionality. Live tile is refreshed periodically regardless application launches. It allows you to see application content without the need to run the application.
Ability to import your subscription before Google Reader shutdown is over. The user interface allowing this will be removed from both Windows Phone and Windows 8 clients in upcoming update. Import of your subscription is offered only via OPML file and is available by the Windows 8 client only. However, the Windows 8 client is offered in the trial mode.
We have done the most significant change in history of the client for Windows Phone. User interface and internal architecture was redesigned and connected to the new cloud service. While content sync experience between phone and desktop remains unchanged, content presentation is totally different. Headlines are presented in visual way and its content is available offline. You can read your favorite news without internet connection. New design allows you to browse content more comfortably and quickly. Identity provider was changed to Microsoft account. Feed Viewer Server account is now deprecated. It was never being designed for securing data of paid service. Microsoft account security is on very high level and its interface is stable over the years, which cannot be said for example about Facebook.
Windows 8 comes with chrome-less applications capable to synchronize its content with other devices. The new Metro-style Feed Viewer client was designed in this manner. It also expands its abilities. While previous gadget like client was designed to show headlines and actual reading was realized via Internet Explorer, Metro-style client allows you browsing news headlines having visually rich content and read articles in layout designed for reading, without any noise. To achieve this task, we started developing an online indexing service 3 years ago. It runs on Windows Azure, reads RSS feeds and web pages and thanks to its understanding of semantic is able to detect dominant image and article. Feed Viewer is in fact a semantic web browser specialized in reading news.
Using Feed Viewer consists of two activities – choosing headlines to read and actual reading them. The first one is much more boring than the other. You can take advantage of Feed Viewer for Windows Phone to remove uninterested headlines during spare time, for example in public transport. Then the Feed Viewer on your PC will show only headlines you wish to read. Feed Viewer will upload changes when Wi-Fi is available. Of course, when you have a mobile internet access, your changes are applied immediately and you can read headlines also in your phone.
Feed Viewer allows you to synchronize your subscription and read headlines with Google Reader now. Just login with your Google account and Feed Viewer will start synchronization automatically. This also allows you synchronization with non-Windows devices.
The Windows RSS platform was introduced with Internet Explorer 7. It unifies all RSS readers in Windows. Feed Viewer started to support this platform. It is enabled by default. When you modify subscription in Feed Viewer, changes are reflected to other applications like Internet Explorer and vice versa. This together with cross-computer synchronization capability allows you to synchronize your subscriptions and read headlines among all your computers and applications.
When you use multiple computers, you don’t want to read the same thinks multiple times. Feed Viewer allows you synchronize visited or removed headlines. This online service is called Feed Viewer Server. Just create an account and login in all Feed Viewer instances. It starts synchronize your subscription and visited or removed headlines automatically.
Feed Viewer tells you about fresh articles on websites of your interest. It subscribes RSS feeds and shows you headlines you have not already visited or removed. Feed Viewer is designed like sidebar gadget in Windows Vista. You don’t have to wait until it become available. It is written in C# for .NET Framework 2, so it runs even on Windows XP or Windows 2000. It also allows you subscribe just some of entire feed’s categories.