Google may be the anti-Christ when it comes to Windows Phone at the moment, but that does not mean that users of the platform are divorcing themselves from the services that they offer. Google and Windows Phone developers recognise the fact, and services that Google offer are still being actively developed for the platform.
The recent maps debacle really showed that, even though a user base is relatively small, in terms of the worlds online population, denying them services is really a no no, for whatever the reason. Obviously there are many variables within a company, and communication is always not at its best, but Google does offer a lot of services that many of us independent, or cohesively blended, bring to our mobile lives.
Well before Windows Phone 7, Google Reader was the way that I organised the tech news that I wanted to read, thought was important, and it was so important to me that I did a whole series of posts about clients for the service, in the way back machine, that would be way back in January 2011.
I just got news, and a beta for the next iteration of the app, and while I have been asked not to share too much, be a spoiler for all that are waiting for an update, I will just say WOW. Next Gen Reader has always been an app that is for the user that wants more, is prepared to take the time to look at a settings menu that is not set and forget on installation. Google Reader as such is not like that, so apps that service it properly, have to take into account its settings. As an app, Next Gen Reader has always been able to do that on Windows phone.
It’s an app that has delivered on Windows Phone 7, with continuous developer support and updates, so it’s really nice to bring news that the app is in Beta for Windows Phone 8, and first impressions are, that if you liked it before you will love it now. As I sais it is in beta, so you may not be able to get your hands on it yet, the dev tells me there are some small issues, and it will get some rebranding due to limited API’s for lock screen support.
Besides all of the familiar functionality, change log for the new version looks like this at the moment, but do not be surprised if more is added before release.
- Support for HD and higher resolutions.
- · Fast app resume from start screen.
- · Support for multiple small, medium and wide live tiles.
- · Support for notifications on Lock screen.
- · Brand new icon and theme for WP8.
- · Always read complete stories using “full article mode” (powered by Readability).
- · Customizable list views.
- · New gestures for changing articles.
- · New metro style share menu.
- · New “show image captions” in article.
- · Improved image caching speed by 2-3x times.
- · Improved YouTube support with IE10.
- · Fixed: Image resizing in article view.
- · Several other UX/design improvements, bug fixes and enhancements.
At the moment, the app is only available for select beta testers, and very simply, I have been asked not to share too much about the app because there are some nice surprises in store. What you will see is the advanced functionality that WP8 brings, speed,, a whole lot of speed, lock screen notifications, a much more customisable UI, with some user preferred theming as well.
I’m not often overwhelmed, but Next Gen Reader is definitely an app for a power user, the Windows Phone 7 version was a definite challenge, if you wanted to get the best out of it. The Windows Phone 8 version brings a whole lot of eye candy, and OS functionality that makes it a must have. If you are a news hound, and a WP* owner keep an eye out for it’s release to the store, you will not regret it.
Note: The developer asked me to not do a full review of the beta or post my own screenshots of the app, because there is a lot more to reveal on launch.