Friday, March 18, 2011

Blackberry App Review - Viigo News Reader

There’s a lot of new apps, updates, and news coming out every day for the Blackbery platform. Today, I would like to highlight one of my favourite apps. Viigo. Why Viigo? Because Viigo provides for everything you want to know at your fingertips.
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Viigo (pronounced vee-go) is a fun and useful application for the Blackberry platform. Offering a thorough menu of RSS feeds related to news, entertainment, local interests, sports, weather, politics and finance, this application is often cited at the top of the list of many Blackberry users.

Viigo requires a log-in; creating one takes just moments and can be done right from the handheld (although you’ll need to confirm the account via an e-mail message from your desktop PC). When you launch the app, the home page shows a list of your active channels. Essentially, channels are any dynamic Web content you subscribe to, such as blog posts, stock prices, weather information, or general news feeds. Viigo gives you a default list of starter channels. You can also browse the Channel Library to grab whatever suits your fancy from hundreds of popular channels, and then add each one to your home page with the Add Channel command. The app also imports custom feeds lists from Google Reader, Bloglines, and My Yahoo accounts. I imported my own Google Reader account without a hitch; all of the feeds appeared below the default ones in a separate section, giving me instant access to new CNN, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Slashdot, and other items right away.

In general, reading news in Viigo is a pleasure. Simply put, the app displays everything that interests you in the same UI. That means you don’t have to navigate multiple mobile sites to read all your content, waiting for each one to load along the way. In fact, I didn’t wait much at all during the review period. With a few exceptions that hung up the Curve 8330 for a moment with a spinning hourglass, navigation was virtually instantaneous. I was prepared to do speed tests, but there’s nothing to measure: Content loads in the background and then stays put on the handheld. Note that the same content is also available in Viigo even when there is no cell-phone signal; you can read articles in the subway or on a plane (with your phone set to flight mode, of course).

At the bottom of each article or post, there are six colorful icons that let you send the article via e-mail, send it to yourself, post it to Twitter or, display the full article, or display the actual Web page in your handset’s Web browser. A pop-up menu offers much the same options, plus the ability to save or delete items as well as navigate to the next or previous item. Reading lots of stories in a row is a simple matter of clicking on each one, clicking twice more to pop up the full article, and then moving on to the next. In turn, the app grays out the stories you’ve already read, and you can also mark all stories in a particular category as read if you want. Viigo is ad-supported, but I thought the display ads at the top of each page weren’t particularly intrusive.

For pure news and blog posts reads via RSS, you simply can’t beat Viigo for BlackBerry. Some users are partial to surfing individual Web sites, rather than drinking new content through a fire hose stripped of site context. But that’s an issue with RSS readers in general and has nothing to do with Viigo. Besides, this app is good enough to make me a convert, especially on mobile devices—and that’s saying something.

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