Nextgen Reader for Surface RT: My favorite app

Nextgen Reader for Surface RT: My favorite app

Summary: There aren't a lot of apps in the Windows Store for the Surface RT, and not a lot of them in there are very good. This app has quickly become my favorite app for the Surface and for a surprising reason.

TOPICS: Apps, Windows
Nextgen Reader store
Nextgen Reader

I am still working hard to get the Surface RT to fit into my daily routine, and that includes trying lots of apps in the Windows Store. The selection of apps is not vast and like all app stores many apps available are not very good. 

Colleague Matt Baxter-Reynolds recommended I try Nextgen Reader, an RSS reader app for Windows 8 and am I glad he did. In a very short time this app has become my favorite on the Surface RT.

Nextgen Reader is a client for working with Google Reader RSS feeds, something I spend a lot of time doing each day. It syncs with Google Reader and presents all feeds and news items in a simple interface designed for working with lots of news feeds.

Nextgen Reader
3-pane interface presents lots of information in one screen

Its simple three-pane interface presents all the information you need in one screen: feed list, news item list, and full article pane. Working with feeds is as simple as scrolling down the lists and tapping on articles of interest. All of the standard Google Reader functions are handled by Nextgen Reader with a great touch interface.

The app is well worth the $3.49 price and if you use Google Reader you will want to check out Nextgen Reader.

The longer I use Nextgen Reader the more I realize what I like about it. The display window is very similar to Google Reader clients on other mobile platforms. It presents a lot of useful information in one screen, unlike many Metro/Modern apps in the Windows Store.

That in a nutshell is a problem I have with many Metro apps -- in adopting the admittedly attractive Metro style the usefulness of apps is often lost. So many Metro apps make terrible use of the big Surface display due to the flashy style of the OS. Information density is sacrificed to make apps very Modern, i. e. Metro-like. Many app displays are like vast fields of tiles that don't present much real information to the user.

Having a nice big screen like that of the Surface RT is totally wasted on such apps that don't give me much useful information at a time. I hope developers take notice of this and put the usefulness of apps ahead of the Metro style. Flash without substance is not very useful. Look at the Nextgen Reader screen included in this article and see how it should be done.

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Topics: Apps, Windows

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  • Too much open space is NG

    I agree that no chrome is needed, but I do believe that if you have a large display then show the user lots of useful information. Framing said information in too much open space is not the way to go, IMHO.
  • Nextgen reader DOES conform to Metro guidelines

    James Kendrick,

    The interesting things is that the Nextgen Reader does actually conform to the Metro guidelines. What many people forget is that Metro guidelines are just that - guidelines. Developers need to understand this. These guidelines cover a wide range of topics.
  • Modern does not preclude information density

    Modern simply means to eliminate useless chrome and effects, not data.
  • surface rt

    i bought surface RT, i have an ipad, macbook, and ipod. also htc 8x windows phone. i can tell you this, surface has the best design, great information because of the live tiles, and best gestures i ever seen, apps that come with surface are really really good, i use them everyday, apps for download need some work, maybe in time. office excel is awesome, and windows phone is really good, but again apps need work even some of the famous ones, the windows phone 8 is really good though, and macbook and ipad i don't even pick up since i got the surface and windows phone. the ipod i just keep in the car for my music and soon might just use the xbox music i like it better. The point of me saying this is that whatever windows is doing its working and getting better everyday, i think they are going to be one of the best os again within 1 or 2 yrs. look at what they did with smartglass xbox, i stopped using itunes already... and thats is the best app on windows phone and surface period
  • Also one of my faves

    Yeah, the NextGen folks (folk?) did a great job. I like that they put some chrome on the main screen, across the top, for sync and a few other things. I wish they would lock the title of the article on the screen in the right panel so that if you scroll down and then decide to go to the article, you don't have to scroll back up. I've sent them that feedback. I'd also like the option to read the article in IE when I click on the title, rather than in-app. Maybe that's there.

    Did you notice the lockscreen integration? Cool that my number of unread articles appears on the lock screen. It seems to take longer than needed to go away after I've "marked all as read", though. But these are quibbles. Love the app.
    • View in IE is there

      just click the ... at the right hand side of the article view and select view in browser. It's a great app, its biggest missing features are offline viewing (for on the airplane) and integration with "read it later" type sites i.e. pocket.
  • Excellent blog, look forward to more of these

    I'll check it out and am happy to financially support app devs that do a good job.

    As for information density, I think it really depends on the app. I found it extremely ironic how the Bing News app was SLAMMED by that usability "expert" for only showing 1 news article on the home page, completely ignoring the fact that this was only the home page and that once you flipped past the home screen, you got many more news articles per page. Where have I seen that design before? Oh right, on my iPad:

    One of the highest rated apps in Apple's app store has a home screen with 0 information density. Somehow though, that doesn't make the entire iOS unusable. Again, this is the blogosphere Apple bias at its finest, amplified through the Internet Echo Chamber as thousands of bloggers repeat the lie that Windows 8 is unusable because Bing News has a home screen.

    I actually think the home screen on Bing News and FlipBoard is appropriate. It gives you the feeling of opening a very high quality magazine.

    Some apps do get information density wrong but it is completely wrong to suggest that Modern UI promotes low information density. In fact, it promotes the EXACT opposite. It promotes INCREASED information density at the expense of chrome (for right or wrong). It promotes the idea that you should NOT take up valueable screen real estate away from information. Controls should get out of the way of the information. This is a documented fact:
    "Content is the heart of Windows Store apps, and putting content before chrome is fundamental to the design of Windows Store apps."

    It is ALL about the content and that is why I actually believe that Surface is a better content consumption device than iPad. Chrome gets in the way of consuming content on the iPad. That's bad.
  • More than this

    The Nbc news apps, the bento and the news Republic apps are also great and also... free.

    The metro style apps and it's unique visual language is making a lot of sens on rt devises