Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

00 newssquares1   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]Are you the kind of person that keeps up with the latest news? If you are, then you will be familiar with RSS feeds. One of the most well-known names in the realm of online RSS clients is Google Reader. Even though the service has gradually improved its interface, it’s still just lists of texts.

If you are a Google Reader user who wishes to try a different interface, you might want to try NewsSquares, a Chrome extension which will add style and interactivity to Google Reader.

News In Squares

Start by visiting the NewsSquares extension page and installing it in your Chrome browser.

00b install addon   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

You can customize the extension by going to the Chrome Extensions page, locating NewsSquares from the list, and clicking on the “Options” link.

00c extensions   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

There are many elements you can customize on the Options page, but the most important for first users is the NewsSquares URL under the “Use NewsSquares as Homepage” option. Copy and paste the URL into Chrome’s address bar and hit “Enter“.

09b settings2   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

You’ll see NewsSquares’ starting page. Click “Start” to begin. After clicking the button, NewsSquares will start building your “news wall“. Please note that you have to log into your Google account before you start NewsSquares because it needs your Google Reader data.

01 start   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

To see what changes will happen to your Google Reader before and after using NewsSquares, here’s the screenshot of the original Google Reader. You can see the list of news on the main pane, while the sources are listed on the sidebar.

00b google reader   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

Here’s what it looks like under NewsSquares. News sources are arranged into colorful squares with the latest articles featured upfront. More news from one source will be available after clicking on the square.

01b news wall   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

Adding News

As a first step, NewsSquares will offer to add more news subscriptions to your news wall.

02a add news   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

There are two panes you can use to add news subscriptions.

02b pick news   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

The left pane allows you to pick sources based on topics. Choose one of the topics from the left sidebar, then add the sources to your Google Reader by clicking the “Add” button.

02c topics   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

Alternatively, you could also search for the topic on the right pane, and add sources from the search results.

02d find favs   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

There’s one other way you can use to add sources to NewsSquares. When you are on a webpage, right click that page, and choose “Add to NewsSquares“.

05f add to ns   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

Filtering & Reading

To read news, you can browse around the squares and pick one of the sources. But you can also filter them to get a clearer view. There are filtering options at the bottom of the screen. You can search the sources, show the unread ones only, or show by categories.

03b bottom menu   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

For example, I put “makeuseof” into the search field and the one square that appears shows MakeUseOf articles.

03f search   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

Clicking on a square will open up the reading pane. The selected article is displayed in the middle while other articles are floating about at the bottom of the screen.

04a reading news   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

The reading menu on the left allows you to close the reading window, mark all articles as read, shrink or enlarge the source square, and unsubscribe from the source.

04b side menu   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

If you scroll down to the bottom of an open article, you’ll find options to share the article, view it on its original webpage, give stars, like, keep it unread, and add tags. This is also the place where you can find options to play audio content (for podcasts).

04c bottom article   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

Keep NewsSquares Open

To keep yourself always updated on all the news you follow, you can use Chrome’s “Pin” feature. Right click on NewsSquares’ tab and choose “Pin Tab” from the pop-up menu.

05a pin tab   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

This action will put the pinned tab on the far left of the tabs, and it will always be opened every time you (re)start Chrome.

05b pinned tab   Add Style & Interactivity To Your Google Reader With NewsSquares [Chrome]

News junkies who use both Google Reader and Chrome will find NewsSquares as a fresh alternative to read RSS feeds on Google Reader.

Have you tried NewsSquares? What do you think about it? Do you know other alternative methods to hack Google Reader? Please share ideas using the comments below.

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3 Comments -

Ryan

I’ve been using Newssquares for quite a while now and I love it!

Dan

It looks like a messy way to read one’s daily feeds. I’ll stick with Reader for now, and hope the new Gmail theme (Preview Dense) would trickle down to it.

thenonhacker

Can’t help but think it’s a rip-off of the Metro UI Design Philosophy. :)