iOS 7 App Possibilities

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Unfortunately, the media has largely forgotten about RSS services and apps since all the Google Reader shutdown hoopla earlier this year. I hope to at least see some one year anniversary articles next year on how all the services are faring.

We have four paid NewsBlur accounts and like the service a lot. But no service is perfect.

Thanks to my new iPhone 5s I'm now using iOS 7. And once I get my hands on the second generation iPad mini likely to be announced this week I'll be on iOS 7 only.

NewsBlur is like Google in that it generates revenue from its service. Therefore, the iOS app may not get as much attention as the core service. Transforming it for iOS 7 would probably require a lot of work.

If that's not feasible, perhaps instead NewsBlur should reach out to the developers of apps such as Reeder and Mr. Reader to see if it can strike a deal such as revenue splitting.

Better yet, maybe reach out to a developer cranking out beautiful iOS 7 apps and strike a deal with that company to make it worth their while to create a next-generation iOS 7 RSS app that perhaps exclusively supports NewsBlur for its first year of existence or maybe supports NewsBlur for free thanks to revenue sharing and other RSS services through an in-app purchase.

Software and services improve not only because of the work of engineers, but also through business deals.
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Neil

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Posted 6 years ago

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ericdano

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Well, first, Google makes it's money in Ads, not services. They never charged for Google Reader, and most likely shuttered it because they couldn't monetize it.

Second, the latest version of the NewsBlur iOS app is iOS 7 only. I still am finding the App sorta unstable, and the user interface is still weird compared to things like Reeder. I'd have much rather the NewsBlur iOS app continued support for iOS version before iOS 7 as a lot of us still have devices that won't run iOS 7 (I have an iPad 1 that won't run it, which still runs Reeder just fine).

There are a few Apps that are supporting NewsBlur, Turbine Reeder and Slow Feeds. Both are still kinda sucky. Though on the Mac OS side, ReadKit is awesome. SOOO much better than using the NewsBlur on the web (and faster). I think if someone builds a "Reeder" clone (or Reeder adds Newsblur support), I'd happily buy it.

Revenue sharing? Seriously? NewsBlur is a one dude operation I think, and it is well worth the yearly price. Anyone who wants to make an App and sell it on the App store should. Why should NewsBlur have to PAY someone? Google Reader never.

I think if the NewsBlur App fixed a few more things it would be pretty close to good. The swiping is sorta strange, and it crashes. Basically, Sam would be wise to pretty much look at what Reeder is doing and Samsung that (i.e. copy it).

Plus it would be nice to have the iOS app have support to send things to Evernote......
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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There is an ios 7 app for NewsBlur ready. Just hit http://dev.newsblur.com/ios/download on your iPhone/iPad and you'll be all set.
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Neil

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Thank you for the news about the iOS app. I'll install it when it's on the App Store.
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Neil

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Not to get into semantics but I work in the online advertising business. We consider the advertising we sell a "service." That's also how the USPTO views when you apply for trademarks for advertising services. And Google sells Google Apps, which is definitely a service by anyone's definition.

Okay, back to business. The NewsBlur app looks no different to me. Are you using a beta not available on the App Store yet? For a long time, some NewsBlur customers who couldn't delete feeds used a beta. The recent update fixed that issue, but the interface looks identical.

NewsBlur is not a one-person operation. It's not a large company, but it's well-connected. It's a graduate of Y Combinator. And as I said, we have four paid accounts so we support the company more than the typical prosumer.

NewsBlur may want to negotiate deals because well-designed apps that support it will result in more subscriptions since in my opinion NewsBlur has the most robust back end. It's biggest weakness is the lack of third-party app support.

Deals between companies with complementary strengths occur every day. No company is an island. Even Apple relies on Samsung for components.
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ericdano

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Except NewsBlur doesn't sell advertising. And advertising is hardly a "service" I want to see on NewsBlur. Or in an App. Google Apps never included Google Reeder as a service. Or it wasn't advertised as part of it. Google certainly never really did anything with Reeder.

NewsBlur App looks no different than what? A Google App? USPTO? What the....?

The interface is slightly different in the latest iOS app than it was, but the gestures thing is still wonky. But it's an improvement.

I'm pretty sure NewsBlur is not a company that has more than one person. Maybe two if you count Sam's dog (I think he has a dog). And you have FOUR paid accounts? Ok.....so......that means what exactly?

I think NewsBlur doesn't need to negotiate any deals. It is doing just fine as it is. Again, if an App developer sees that NewsBlur needs a kick ass iOS client, then someone will make it. Look at ReadKit on the Mac. There was a HUGE void left when the developer of Reeder pretty much stopped updating his product....and those of us who left for greener pastures needed and wanted something. They provided it, and they seem to be doing rather well with it. NO ONE had to make a deal to get support.

I don't get that at all. There is no need for deals. All the APIs are documented, and even the source to NewsBlur is available. Why are these deals needed?

Oh, and Apple really would ditch Samsung in an instant if they could, and they already are moving away from them for a lot of components. No one likes dealing with Samsung......
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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So I don't have to make deals if people want to develop on the NewsBlur API. They are free to, but the reason is that they don't want to have compete against the free first-class iOS client. There's also a number of features (like training and social) that only NewsBlur supports. It's just not economical to develop against something which is free. Also, 99% of all Reeder users use Feedly, which is also a free service.

As for the NewsBlur iOS app (esp. as of this latest beta with gestures), I think it's not only the best RSS reader for iOS, it's my favorite way to read NewsBlur and also the client where I spend most of my time. If it doesn't appeal to you, I have little doubt that the rest of the service gives you the same feeling. I keep the mobile apps pretty consistent with the web app and with my philosophy for how to build an RSS reader.

What exactly are you looking for from the iOS app? Just something familiar like the Reeder interface? My UI is quite different, and not in a better or worse way. I made decisions like side swiping of stories instead of top-to-bottom swiping between stories. I also think I made the right decision. This applies to many other seemingly tiny decisions as well.
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Neil

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I've used only two RSS apps — Google Reader (primarily the mobile version) and then the NewsBlur app on iPad and iPhone. But having just switched from an iPhone 5 running iOS 6 to an iPhone 5s running iOS 7 yesterday there's no question that Apple has introduced a beautiful new design language.

I feel that app developers need to use the new development tools so that their keyboard is the same, etc. Like I said, I'm a a NewsBlur fan and look forward to the newly designed app. We'd gladly pay $500 per year per account because for us monitoring feeds is an important part of our jobs. NewsBlur is an enterprise-class service for our company.
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ericdano

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Some of this comment does not make sense "I feel that app developers need to use the new development tools so that their keyboard is the same, etc."

Luckily NewsBlur does NOT cost $500 a year. It is well worth what it charges though. It's fast, and it has had no downtime recently.
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Neil

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iOS 7 has a different keyboard design. In fact, everything looks different. My understanding is that you must recompile your app to use these new elements. Take a look.
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ericdano

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yes, and probably since the app is iOS 7 only that it has been recompiled.........
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Neil

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It's not on the App Store. Obviously, I don't think it contains anything malicious but I only install apps that have gone through Apple's approval process. As I noted, my iOS devices are not for reading TechCrunch in the bathroom. They're production devices. I'm finished with this discussion.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Oh, you need to install that link I gave you if you want to give feedback on the iOS app. Apps are still sandboxed, so there's nothing I would be able to do that I wouldn't also in the App Store. You'll notice it installs over the old app, which means they are both signed with the same certificate.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Oh, and for the record, NewsBlur is written and supported full-time by me, but I also hire a number of contractors here and there (writing copy, android, some work on the ipad a year back, designers x 4). I have only taken investment from YC. RSS, if you didn't already know, is a contracting market and warrants very little investment from anybody rational. I only continue to work on it because I was never in it for the money, which is partially why NewsBlur is #2 in terms of revenue. Feedly makes more, but they are also VC backed and will have to perform at some point in the future, whereas NewsBlur is set for a long time and doesn't have to make any return more than it already has.
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ericdano

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No, the iOS app is ok. There are a couple of things I wish it did.

First, if there was a way to make the stuff slightly bigger.

Second, when you do a left to right gesture to save/favorite an article, it would be nice if you stopped before you got the whole way over that you can do the Gear menu you have while reading the article (ie the save this story, send too, etc).

Third, in the gear menu in an article, some way to actually say what you want in there. Like Email, Twitter, Evernote, open in Chrome, etc

Fourth, I've always liked the Global Shared Stories thing, but is there a way to get iOS and the web version to remember what you've read or not?
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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The next version of the iOS app has dynamic text so you can resize both the feed list and the story list. It also has background updates.