Sunday, March 11, 2012

Google Reader and Readability


I was looking for a beautiful news reader that I can use on PC, something similar to flipboard on iPad. I also want to be able to send the lengthy news to another app like the Instapaper or Readability so I can read it easily with a clean layout. Another feature I wanted was "Send to Kindle". Below are News Reader that I like. All of them support browsing for news/feeds to be added to your channel.



Supported Apps 
for Read Later
Layout
Instapaper
Read It Later
Beautiful, Magazine-like
No Web-based
Instapaper
Readability
Read It Later
Row-based
No Web-based

Instapaper

Similar to Flipboard
No Web-based
None Row at the bottom
Clean Content Layout
Support both Mobile and
Web-based

Only Layers/Persona has the corresponding web-based for PC. But it does not support sending to Instapaper and Readability. I should also mention that Instapaper can only send the whole updated list to your Kindle, not selectively per article. Readability can do that with a more modern interface. Instapaper can send upto 10 articles for free version. If you subscribe for 1$ a month you can get upto 50 articles to be sent to Kindle. Readability does not seem to have this limitation. The 1$ is not an issue for me. But when I send list of articles to Kindle from Instapaper, the images were not included while Readability did not have this problem. Another service "ReadItLater" does not support "Send to Kindle".

  

So I have to go back to Google Reader as my news aggregator and reader. I added in Google Reader a custom "Send To" services to Readability following the instruction here http://help.readability.com/customer/portal/articles/311806--how-can-i-manually-add-readability-as-a-custom-send-to-service-in-google-reeder-
READ NOW:
URL: http://www.readability.com/read?url=${url}
Icon URL: http://www.readability.com/media/images/favicon.ico

READ LATER:
URL: http://www.readability.com/save?url=${url}
Icon URL: http://www.readability.com/media/images/favicon.ico
I also make the style of Google Reader cleaner using the Chrome extension called "Stylish" and download the "Minimal Readable Expanded" style to apply to the Google Reader.


The Google Reader then looked like this with hidden navigation pane on the left (it appears only when you move your mouse there)



That's it. So Plain old Google Reader on PC and Pulse on iPad/iPhone. With Readability to read with a clean layout and send update to Kindle every morning.

Forgot to mention that Feedly does not have Readability built-in yet. That's the only one reason why I have to still use Google Reader. Feedly is very good looking wrap around Google Reader. I'll use it once it has Readability connection.

[Updated : Mar 18, 2012] I used "Super Full Feeds" extension for Chrome to get the full articles for truncated rss feeds. But later I found that it does not get articles correctly from some sites such as Gizmodo. Send to -> Readability worked find. Then I found "Reader Plus" extension which support the same thing but use Readability engine. It also support themes and many other things. I can now remove both "Stylish" and  "Super Full Feeds" and only use "Reader Plus" now. Working perfectly so far.