Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, has been around since the mid-90s and is a way for websites like this one to publish a “feed” to subscribers providing the highlights of posts so users don’t necessarily have to visit the site until they want to do so for a particular article. In fact, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for ClintonFitch.com right here and most of the Windows and Windows Phone dedicated sites have their own feeds. Likewise, RSS readers or aggregators have been around a long time as well. These app allow you to gather all of your RSS feeds into one place so you can read them in one place at one time. When it comes to Windows and Windows Phone, one of the best readers out there is NextGen Reader.
NextGen Reader leverages Feedly where you actually configure the RSS feeds and presents them in a modern, easy-to-read and navigate app for both your Windows 8.1 PC and tablets as well as a Windows Phone 8.1 version that is equally as solid. The app allows you to quickly and easily read your feeds, supports the Modern Windows 8.1 app design and on the Windows Phone version, supports Live Tiles and pinning on your Start screen. NextGen Reader is as close to a universal app as you can get in the current Windows 8.1 world (true universal apps are coming in Windows 10) but it does mean that once you buy the app at $2.99, you get the app on all your Windows powered devices. If you are looking for a good RSS/News reader for your devices, take a look at this one. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
To use NextGen Reader you will need to have a Feedly account. Feedly is a free service (there is a premium service with more powerful search features) that aggregates your RSS feeds into one site. Feedly allows you to use your Microsoft, Google, Facebook or Twitter account to sign up and you add feeds to your Feedly by copying and pasting the URL of a site into the Add Content section. Youc an also organize your feeds into logical folders for easier navigation and allowing you to only read content on the subjects you are interested in seeing at a particular point in time. While Feedly themselves do have an app, they don’t for Windows or Windows Phone. That’s where NextGen Reader comes into the picture.
What NextGen Reader is not is a RSS Reader. It is a Feedly reader. So why not just go to the Feedly site? You can but then you miss out on the great design and functionality of this app that has
been a part of the Windows Phone landscape since the Windows Phone 6.5 days. Yeah, they know what they are doing and continue to build functionality and features into the app that make it what I consider to be the best in the store. While the Windows version is certainly younger, it is equally as powerful, bringing you multiple ways to navigate and view your Feedly content from your Modern Start screen.
The user experience of NextGen Reader on Windows 8.1 is outstanding. Once you have configured the app with your Feedly account information, your feeds and folders that you have defined in Feedly show up in the app. There you can navigate to read articles, mark them as read (automatically once you navigate away from the article), favorite them to read further and share them with a wie range of social network services which can be configured within the app. Because the app leverages Feedly in the background, all of the articles you mark read on one of your devices will be marked read on all the rest. Likewise, if you favorite an article, it is synchronized across your devices. It makes it seamless to move from one device to another and that truly sets NextGen Reader apart from other apps.
Configuring NextGen Reader with other account is done through the Settings>Accounts menu. Here you can configure your social accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but also can
configure OneNote and Pocket amongst others to share or keep a particular article for safe keeping for later. I personally am a huge OneNote user so if there is something I want to keep I simply push it to that service via the More menu. This ability to share and push content from NextGen Reader to other services and socially is one of the aspects that makes this app stand out amongst others. Sharing is simple and saving content to read later via other services is equally as simple.
Within the app you have a huge amount of configuration that you can do to make it perform the way you need to in your day-to-day. This includes being able to change the look and feel of the app (colors, theme’s, etc.) but also the number of articles that are synchronized at once, how often background synchronization happens, fonts and sizes of those fonts just to name a few. As a general rule these settings won’t synchronize across your devices as they are install dependent. It would be good in a future version to see NextGen Reader leverage your Microsoft account to store this information so settings are kept across all your devices.
Functionally, NextGen Reader for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 are identical. What you have on one device is what you have on the other. However, as you would expect, there are some
navigational changes and layout changes for the different platforms. On Windows Phone you have full advantage of Live Tiles to see updates as they come in based on your synchronization schedule. If you have a particular folder or article you want to pin to you Start Menu, you can do that as well. All of the sharing functions that I mentioned on the Windows 8.1 version are there in the Windows Phone version too. The big win though in my book is the synchronization of content across devices. If I mark an article as read on my Windows Phone, it is marked as read on my Windows PC. That eliminates me from “double reading” which is a time and frustration saver.
I’ve been a user of NextGen Reader in some form since my Windows Phone 6.5 days and while the app has evolved over that time, it fundamentally has remained one of the strongest RSS readers (now Feedly readers) available for the platform. With the Windows version of the app now available and cross device synchronization a standard part of the app, it is simply one of the best news reader apps out there on any platform.
Finally, there is the support that the NextGen Reader support. As I was preparing for this review I ran into a problem with synchronization on my Toshiba Encore 2 Windows 8.1 tablet. It was inconsistent and kept giving me a synchronization error. I contacted support through the app and got an answer back from them within 4 hours of my writing them. After asking me a few questions, I got a 2nd reply with a suggested fix within an hour. That fix worked (I had a setting configured that I did not configure correctly – 100% user error) and I’ve not had a problem since. In this day of literally tens of thousands of apps out there, getting support is challenging sometimes. Clearly the team at NextGen Reader take support seriously and it showed in my example. If you are debating spending the money for this app, knowing that solid support is there for you if you need it should eliminate all doubt for you.
The app is $2.99 regardless if you buy the Windows or Windows Phone version. That $2.99 however gets you the license for both platforms. In other words, you pay once. I highly recommend NextGen Reader for your Feedly reader needs on all your Windows powered devices. The configurability, ease-of-use and outstanding technical support make it a no-brainer.