Add a beautiful, Metro-style Google Reader app to Windows 8. If you like your reading experience to be clean, quick and smooth – and you’re a recent convert to Windows 8 – this is the app you’ve been looking for. It even comes with offline reading support.
I’m a big fan of Reeder, a beautiful Mac app for Google Reader. That program gets feed reading right with it’s offline support, simple interface, support for sharing with multiple services and the use of Google Reader’s keyboard shortcuts. There’s a Linux equivalent (some might say clone): Lightread, a simple Google Reader client with offline mode for Ubuntu.
I love both of those apps, but I’ve never found anything quite like them for Windows. Until now. Nextgen Reader is just as good as both of those apps, but also fits in perfectly with Windows 8. Like I said: it’s the app you’ve been looking for.
Using Nextgen Reader
Start up Nextgen Reader and you’ll need to enable the app to use your Google account. Once you do you’ll be immediately presented with the default interface for the software:
Your feeds and folders are at left; to its right is a list of articles. At right is the reading area. It’s a tried and test interface for RSS readers, and it works great here.
Notably, the Google Reader shortcut keys you know and love work here. “J” and “K” allow you to go down and up an article, respectively, and the space bar will scroll down one screen so you can keep reading.
Of course if you’re using a tablet you could care less about keyboard shortcuts, and this interface looks terribly with its tiny buttons. No worry: tap the words “Nextgen Reader” at top-left.
That’s right: Nextgen Reader offers two modes. There’s the touch-based interface for tablet users and a keyboard-centric interface for everyone else. This means that, unlike far too many Windows 8 apps, Nextgen Reader doesn’t feel out of place anywhere. Microsoft Surface users, who regularly switch between touch and keyboard, should really feel at home with it.
All the functionality you’d expect is here: marking as read, staring articles, even offline syncing. There’s also sharing, which you can use by clicking “share” in the Windows charm bar:
The sharing functionality uses other apps that support it, in my case Metro Twit and a Reddit app I’ve been playing with. The more supported apps you have on your machine the more ways you can share articles, so the only limit to this is the number of Windows 8 apps you’re willing to install and use.
If you’re wondering about the color scheme I think you’re a freak, but I’m also happy to tell you that you can change the accent color in the settings:
There are a few other settings you can tweak – font size, how many articles to save for offline reading and where external links should be opened in a browser.
If you’re a fan of live tiles on the Windows 8 live tiles on the start screen, good news: those are supported. You can “pin” as many individual sites to your home screen as you like, meaning you’ll see any and every new article as soon as it’s published. It could potentially be distracting, but it’s worth it if the site you pin in MakeUseOf. Or, you know, some other site.
No, just pin MakeUseOf. That will work best.
Download NextGen Reader
The app costs $2.99, but the trial version is ad-free and will never expire. Pay for it, though, because people who make quality apps and want to get paid should – especially if they’re generous enough to give their app away.
Nextgen Readers does what every Windows 8 app should aspire to: offer a great tablet interface without compromising the desktop experience. I really enjoyed being able to use the traditional Google Reader keyboard shortcuts while reading, but also understand that owners of Windows 8 tablets prefer a touch-based interface. By offering two modes Nextgen Reader alienates no one.
Do any other Windows 8 apps do this well? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below, along with links to any other great Google Reader apps you might know about.