Reading Blogs on the Go – Part 2

In the previous entry on how to read blogs on the go I described my motivation for mobile blog reading,  discussed a Symbian Series 60 blog reader application, and shared my thoughts on  features I would like to see in the future. In the meantime I discovered yet another blog reader application and have come up with some more thoughts how the experience can be improved in the somewhat more distant future.

The second Symbian Series 60 blog reader application I’ve tested is called ‘Newspaper. Compared to the RescoNews Application described earlier it features a desktop program which retrieve RSS feeds and puts the contents into a single file that can then be downloaded to the mobile device via Bluetooth or other means. Of course application on the mobile can download feeds via a wireless packet connection but due to the size of those feeds if one has more than a couple of blogs in the blogroll might be too expensive. I had some trouble to download my RSS feeds via Bluetooth as the file size was about 1.5 MB and my 6630 refused to properly start the application. Only when I manually copied the file to a memory card and started the application from there did I succeed. Two other things that can easily be improved in a future version make me lean heavily on the RescoNews Application as my favorite reader: Scrolling in the Newspaper application is very slow, for every click of the down button I just got 3/4 of a new line. Scrolling down a whole page just requires too many clicks. Further, the program has no option to sort all blog entries by date which I prefer to the by blog ordering on a mobile device. A promising application if the usability is somewhat improved.

In the last blog entry I was described some enhancements which would be easy to implement in a future mobile blog reader application. However, one problem remains that is unlikely to be solved in the short term: It happens often enough to me that a blog entry contains links to other blogs or web pages or that I would like to see the full blog entry if only partially contained in the RSS feed. On the mobile device I think twice before following such a link as those pages are usually not formatted for a mobile device. For the future I envision that web pages and especially blogging sites take a closer look at the browser string of a request and automatically reformat the blogs for a mobile device. As one can not expect this happening over night, how about a flag in the RSS feed that tells the reader if the corresponding blog entry can be view in a mobile optimized version? This wouldn’t solve the link issue but at least the issue with reading the full blog entry.