Honeycomb is still extremely new and so far the app situation is somewhat bleak. Which is disappointing given the potential of the new interface elements and APIs Google has implemented in Honeycomb. Google’s own apps such as Gmail, Talk, YouTube and Google Books have some of the best examples of what can be done with the powerful new interface tools in Honeycomb. Of course, many other Google apps serve as little more than examples of neglect. Enter Google Reader, which is perhaps one of the most curious omissions as reading RSS feeds seems like one of those tasks that would be perfect for a tablet-sized screen.
Enter Newsr to show us how it’s done.
Newsr is a tablet-only app that syncs with Google Reader to read your RSS feeds, and it takes advantage of the full power of Honeycomb’s new interface design. Multiple simultaneous scrolling panels allow you to scroll through your individual feeds, individual items in each feed, and a full article in each feed at the same time, making navigating from anywhere to anywhere in your news reader a breeze. It’s also one of the few non-Google apps that makes use of the Action Bar at the top of the screen for several options, as opposed to being hidden underneath a menu like most phone-based Android apps are now.
The interface is simple and clean and on a tablet the size of the Xoom, it even makes a nice comic reader. One of my favorite webcomics, Questionable Content, is a long-form comic. And in Newsr, it looks absolutely gorgeous. The ability to swipe left and right to move between articles is also a nice touch. Newsr even includes the ability to playback Flash video in-app.
There’s only two down sides to Newsr: the inability to add feeds directly to your Google Reader account from within Newsr is mildly annoying. Granted this is not really any big deviation from Google Reader proper, which has always been a BYORSS affair. Though once you’ve had a Pulse-style repository for dozens of popular RSS feeds, it’s a little hard to go back.
Oh yes, and the price: $3. To be fair, that’s not a huge amount of money in general, but in the world of apps, it’s pricier than most for what it is. Especially given that it seems to embody the most basic idea of what Google’s official Reader app should be when it’s released. When (if) Google updates Google Reader for Honeycomb, it should be at least this nice, and hopefully better. Still, if you’re looking for a clean, table-friendly RSS reader on Honeycomb, and dont care for the bells and whistles of Pulse (another good example of a Honeycomb-friendly app) Newsr may be exactly what you’re looking for.