Windows Mobile devices were able to replace small form factor desktop devices like mini PC, Mac mini or Chromebox. This ability was named Continuum. It requires responsible apps. While this is a standard for web apps, it is not for desktop apps. Investments to make desktop app responsible is much higher compared to web app because XAML and Windows API were not designed to responsible scenarios. In addition, Surface Duo will not come with Windows 10X, but Android instead. It makes Continuum ability technically impossible. For these reasons, future version of Feed Viewer for will drop Continuum support.
Current version (150.1), which supports all versions of Windows 10 since 10240 build, will not be updated with new features, but it keeps Continuum support. Future versions (150.2) will no longer support Windows Mobile, Continuum or Windows 10 version 1809 or below. However, it will be ready to obtain support for dual screen devices when they come.
The latest update (version 150.1.5) has several new features. The most significant is the new way of transferring user’s ID to another devices. The old method wasn’t very convenient. The app generated a special link which had to be transferred via email on target device and user had to click on the link after he installed the app. The new method is much easier. You just click on the button and app will generate a single-use token. When the app launches for the first time, it allows to choose whether to create a new user profile or use an existing one. The second method requires just rewriting the token to active user’s profile on another device.
Other improvement is focused on sharing experience. In the case the receiver has Feed Viewer installed, the article is opened within the app. Moreover, it is saved into a new specialized category of shared articles. It serves similarly as reading list, but it contains only those articles which were shared by others. (The content of this category is not synchronized with other devices yet, but it is something what will be done in the future update.)
And one more thing – Feed Viewer is available for iPhone devices in the TestFlight program. The application is practically ready for existing users of the version for Windows. Synchronization with iPhone should work as easily as with Windows Mobile. In fact, synchronization improvements introduced last year were inspired and backported from the Feed Viewer prototype for iOS.
Feed Viewer is receiving a significant update which improves its usability and performance. Headlines downloading is much faster compared to previous version. There is a new category of headlines. You don’t have go to settings to view recently read headlines any more. The new category contains only read headlines from all sources. Feed search have been greatly improved. Searching is much faster and results contains additional details about articles frequency or feed popularity. It also contains an attention when the feed is a known for spreading fake news. There are more actions you can do even if you are offline. Unsubscribing, renaming or categorizing feeds is propagated to other devices during synchronization. Although the minimum supported Windows version is still 1507 refreshing the app when is closed requires at least the 1607 version.
The list of improvements is quite long but the cadence of new updates was also slower than usual. One important feature is not yet complete because of Windows 10 bug waiting for a fix by Microsoft. Unfortunately, the workaround is not possible in this case. This feature was the main goal for the current Feed Viewer version but all secondary improvements together were very significant to release the new version without it.
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.
JPEG is still much more efficient over PNG with color quantization. There is an option of HEIF in future. Everything is about finding the center of gravity of the triangle with three vertexes – quality, compression ratio and cost of implementation. The backend was designed to serve different file formats to different devices, but latest and currently planned features are almost impossible to implement with this design decision.
Feed Viewer was always limited by hardware performance, operating system restrictions and backend running costs. Portability is another boundary that must be considered. For choosing a 25 years old technology in IT must be a serious reason. When you look around, everybody would like to use a better format, but there is just not a better alternative yet.
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.
Also, the latest client for Windows 10 now requires at least Anniversary Update (version 1607, build 14393). Windows 10 RTM (version 1507, build 10240) support ended on May 9, 2017. Windows 10 November Update (version 1511, build 10586) support ended on October 10, 2017. The policy for the Windows 10 client is to map Microsoft support policy of Windows 10 versions. In some valid reasons, the support may be extended. Most of high-end Nokia Lumia devices will not be upgraded beyond Anniversary Update. There is no technical reason to cut the support for those devices yet.
Cutting the number of supported clients from 3 to 1 on Windows allows the expansion to another platform. Many work have been already done in this area. Follow this blog to receive the latest information about actual progress.
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.
Today Feed Viewer has its own identity management system which guarantees users anonymity and allows them keep their content synchronized among multiple devices. It is as simple as possible without decrease of security level. Feed Viewer identity is no longer tied to Microsoft account. Remember that you must send your identity to the new device before uninstalling the app from the previous one.
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.
Morning reading in the transport
Mornings are usually busy and no one has a time to launch the app and wait until the synchronization is done. Although there are some subway lines with 4G connections in tunnels high quality connection is still rare. Feed Viewer does not need a connection when you want to read fresh articles. It keeps up to date while the phone is charging and you sleep. When you launch the app, the content is there.
Pick up what you want & throw away the rest
Consuming just few of articles in abundant feed wasn’t very comfortable in the past. With the latest release is possible to slide the headline tile to both sides. One side still means mark the headline as read while the other now moves the headline to Read later category. You can briefly go throw the whole feed, pick up what you want to read later and mark all items as read to clean up what is out of your focus.
Importing sources from Feedly without having to buy the Premium edition
You easily test our app with all your sources. There is no longer a limit for number of sources in the free version. The import is straightforward and takes several minutes to complete. You will receive a notification when it is done.
But that is not all. As always, most of the changes were made under the hood to keep the app fast and free of memory leaks.
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.