Saturday, March 21, 2015

Best offline RSS feed reader for Android: FeedMe


I want to take a second here to give a huge shout-out to "FeedMe" an Android offline RSS reader app I found and have now been using as my daily go-to feed reader. This thing is a simple, pleasurable, super light-weight client that syncs through either your Feedly or your Inoreader. But where it shines brightest is in its offline support, because it does exactly what I wanted. 

Here are two situations, one I'm in almost every day, the other not nearly often enough:
  1. I take the subway in Seoul but, especially during peak commuting time, the subway Wi-Fi sucks. I get dropped constantly, and end up using my 4G connection to read my RSS feed articles. Damn! Wish my phone had just pulled them all in before I left the house this morning, so I could just read/browse them offline now. 
  2. I go abroad on vacation, and my hotel has free Wi-Fi (as does the local McDonalds) but I have no internet connection out on the beach. Damn! Wish I could catch-up with my article reading there!
True, one could use Pocket for reading offline, but one would need to have stored manually-chosen articles into it first. That's fine, but I just want to read all my incoming news and blogs offline, like in the days of newspapers! 

FeedMe exactly takes care of this. In my daily life, it automatically synchronizes itself with my Feedly/Inoreader account every two hours (user editable), only when I'm connected to Wi-Fi (user editable), so during commute time I always have the latest already stored and ready for me. It smoothly and perfectly matches up with the desktop version later, even if I've made edits/changes on my computer since after the last sync. And after I've read and it resyncs again, stars/favorites, tags, send-to-Pockets, everything just resyncs perfectly. I cannot express how convenient and reliable this is. 

And best of all, for feeds that just provide a one-paragraph summery of snippet of the article, FeedMe can (if you choose so in the settings) automatically fetch the entire article in a mobilized ("easy reading") version, and keep that for offline reading. LET THAT SINK IN. The only major downfall of RSS --that being that some sites' feeds make you "click-through" to get the full article content-- is a non-issue. The pure reading experience, with full, cleaned, offline articles, cannot be beat. Only suckers are wasting their time/data browsing Twitter timelines, clicking headline links, and zooming around some ad-infested site (ironic given that ads run on mine).

Even saving Twitter article links automatically to Pocket, while achieving a similar end, isn't as efficient/convenient. The closest to doing this well would be something like Flyne, but as you can guess from this post, you know where my sympathies lie. Flyne seems to (disclosure: I didn't try it) combine your Feedly feeds with your Twitter timeline for offline use... but of course, Inoreader lets you subscribe to you Twitter timeline and it appears as a normal feed, the end result of course meaning that all those tweets will be synchronized for offline reading by FeedMe assuming (like me) you use it as an Inoreader client. That means FeedMe is an offline Twitter client also, as well as offline RSS! Here's an example of that. Here's the "article" i.e. the tweet I had posted for this blog entry:

Reading tweets offline in FeedMe

Now let me show you an example of the 'full article fetching for offline reading' feature of FeedMe.

Here's the feed for the Korea Times (no longer advertised on-site but available here) as it looks in FeedMe:

Korea Times news feed, synced for offline reading by FeedMe

All these articles are stored offline on my phone. Let's start reading. That first article looks good. Click. (I've switched the theme from "light" to "night" just to show you a taste of how it can look. Personally, I prefer night-theme. Easier on the eyes, easier on the battery)

Korea Times' "snippet only" feed article, before applying webpage download setting

Damn! Korea Times is one of those sites that only provides a snippet! BUT WAIT. Because I marked this subscription as a "get mobilized content" one in the settings, I see this instead, and can go ahead and scroll through the whole article, never leaving the FeedMe app, and never going online (disregard the fact that I was indeed connected to Wi-Fi at the time):

Korea Times full article, fetched automatically and stored offline by FeedMe

You can toggle between the feed (snippet) and web (full article, mobilizer reading) views manually, on a per-article basis, at the top-right above the headline. To have FeedMe automatically download all such full-article views for a particular site/blog: go to any article in the subscription --> hit the three-button menu icon --> check the third box "Download web page when start sync". Note too that while this particular article has no images, images do sync for offline view as well. 



Even when offline, you can share the content (uses Android's native sharing), send it to Pocket, add Feedly/Inoreader tags to it, or unsubscribe, all of which will sync-up during your next synchronization.



There's not much to this entry aside from me being a fanboy, I know. I just wanted to demonstrate a simple and reliable solution to a problem that always annoyed me, but that I had assumed was just part of modern Internet life. If, like me, you ever wished for an easy, simple way to regularly read all of your news/blogs offline and full at your convenience, I cannot recommend FeedMe enough. This brilliant little app deserves wider fame. 


FeedMe (Free) | Google Play

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