RSS reading on the go lacks many of the productivity tools available on the desktop. For starters, we can’t use hotkeys to star or mark items as read. Multi-tabbed browsing doesn’t exist within RSS reader apps. Furthermore, many RSS readers use their own baked-in browser, which lacks features. Last, we can’t open tabs in the background.
After a lot of experimentation, I’ve found a combination of apps that greatly speed up mobile RSS consumption by permitting tabbed browsing, gesture support for starring and background tabs. I use a combination of Javelin Browser, FeedMe feed reader and a handful of other apps — and it crushes my feeds. My setup requires a small amount of configuration to properly use. Also, it requires at least Android 4.1 or higher.
How it Works
FeedMe is one of the few high-quality, gesture-supporting feed readers with full-text services that also allows opening links in an external browser. Although minimal, it’s full of power. Javelin Browser packs in strong features, including VPN (in the paid version), screen overlay (which essentially adds tabs via “chatheads”, or floating bubbles), background loading of tabs, ad-blocking, an intuitive interface and a great deal more. Together, these power my ultra-efficient mobile RSS feed machine.
FeedMe allows users to open RSS items in the background. Just open an RSS feed and click on any link in either the article, or the link to the article itself. Javelin opens up a kind of tab, or bubble, which you can get around to after finishing your feeds.
FeedMe Setup and Configuration
FeedMe is really the heart and soul of my daily RSS ritual. While other great readers exist, such as Feedly and Press, to my knowledge, none offer the same combination of features as FeedMe. To get started, first download FeedMe and configure it to accept your feeds. FeedMe uses Feedly as a backbone service, meaning your data rests on their servers. We’ve written various guides to Feedly and other migration-related articles. If you aren’t familiar with the service, consider trying it out (provided they’ve stopped click-jacking).
Connect to Feedly
Once you’ve set up a Feedly account and added your feeds, start FeedMe. You’ll receive a prompt to connect to Feedly. After connecting, configure FeedMe. At this point, Javelin Browser should already have been installed.
Configure Gestures for Opening in Background Tabs and Starring
Each item in your feed list can use gestures. In this case, swiping from left-to-right or from right-to-left. By default, FeedMe enables gestures for marking articles as “read”, but the behavior for swiping also offers options for starring, opening in browser, sharing, tagging and more. They’re both configurable. For my setup, I prefer using the following:
- Left-to-right: Open RSS item in browser. Set Javelin as the default browser to open links. You may need to go into Settings -> Apps, and then clear another browser as the default app for loading websites.
- Right-to-left: Star item. I use the starring system to keep track of articles that I’ll want to read later. For everything else, I use Javelin Browser or FeedMe’s full-text function.
Full Text Service
Double tapping on the center of the screen, while reading any article, will generate full-text for abridged RSS feeds. In the settings menu, you can also choose among several full-text services. However, the default Readability works perfectly. I find this useful for reading MakeUseOf articles, which began releasing abridged content last year.
Javelin Setup and Configuration
Javelin’s behavior differs for each version of Android. On Android 4.1 and later, which introduced the “screen overlay” feature, you receive access to the famous “chatheads” interface. A chathead is a floating bubble. If you click on the bubble, it opens the app.
Javelin, when used in conjunction with FeedMe, allows the bubbles to stack with one another – similar to background tabs on the desktop. I find it more efficient to open links as I read through articles, clearing out my RSS feeds, and then going back to the stacked chatheads in Javelin. This allows articles to fully load, increasing the speed at which the user can consume links.
To open a chathead, just tap on the bubble. You can close each tab by swiping down on its menu bar. For example:
Javelin also features ad-blocking and VPN, which further augments its utility. You get more functionality from the paid app, but the free app covers all my specific needs.
There are a lot of other browsers that you can use in combination with FeedMe.
- RedReader: This open source app allows users to use gestures and other features for consuming content on Reddit. If you use Reddit, I highly suggest adding your favorite subs as RSS links. You can do so by appending “.RSS” to the end of any Reddit URL. For example: www.reddit.com/video.rss is a highly useful RSS link.
- YouTube: You can also launch YouTube links in Google’s native app. It’s easier to go full screen using the app, as well. Although it doesn’t open as a background tab.
Check out our list of the best Android apps. We keep the list updated, so there’s always plenty of apps to check out, even if you’ve seen it before. We also offer an RSS feed for our best apps. Subscribe to get the latest updates.
Using a two-app combo, you can accelerate RSS feed consumption using mobile devices. I’ve written extensively about using RSS feeds, but Javelin + FeedMe is the closest I’ve come to desktop-like productivity. I highly suggest checking it out.
For those interested in mobile RSS, I also suggest using a variety of RSS management tools, to keep your feeds tidy. Alternatively, Evernote can function as a backbone instead of using Feedly (although you won’t be able to use FeedMe with Evernote).
Does anyone else use FeedMe? Or do you have a better way to consume RSS on the go? Let us know in the comments.