Reading Blogs on your Mobile

How do you read a blog on your mobile? If you access the actual URL of the blog page right from your Mobile, your Mobile will not be able to display the content properly. The 2/3 column layout, large images, too many ads on the page, just don't fit on your small screen. And if you haven't subscribed to Unlimited Internet access (or as people call it Unlimited Data Plan), then you will be paying access charges for downloading all those ads and images, which you may not be interested at all. So then, how can I can read blogs on my cell phone?

RSS feeds comes to rescue again, atleast to an extent. ( Read more about RSS Feeds at What is RSS and Why it is better and safer than Email for content delivery ). RSS feeds just contain the blog posts. Nothing else.  No banner ads. No photo galleries. No background images. No layout designs. Just plain posts. But RSS feeds are formatted as XML documents, which your mobile phone can not render to a readable format. (like Internet Explorer on the desktop).  Infact, Feeds are only  meant to be read by machines/applications. So we need

  • some application to format these RSS feeds in to human readable format.
  • it would be better to compress and optimize the content, so that you can download the blog content faster on mobile
  • preferably a webpage to configure what all feeds you want to read and all manage your preferences etc. Trust me, It is quite difficult to do any of them right from your mobile phone.

I searched for such applications and I found a few applications. Though, not all of them do all of those three things, many do atleast two of them.

    First set of applications are desktop counterparts of RSS Reader Applications. You have to download and  install on your Mobile just like you do it on a desktop. And you access RSS Feeds directly from this RSS Reader application.
  1. FreeNews : RSS Reader from Free Range Communications http://freerangeinc.com/  Read a review about this here.
  2. Mobile Feed Reader from FeedBurner : http://www.feedburner.com/fb/a/mfr 

Main problem with this set of applications is you have to install software on your mobile phone. So, these apps are not for every mobile. And as history taught us,  there is no final solid version of software and you have to keep this software updated every month. And pretty soon, you might end up buying and installing a  Symantec /McAfee Internet Protection suite to protect you from viruses. Personally I do not prefer and recommend third party applications on my Mobile. Also, these applications will always download full posts available on the RSS feed whether you read it or not. Not good for my mobile's battery life, as it consume lots of processing power. And certainly not good for your pocket, if you are paying by KB of data downloaded.

    Second set of applications are actually web based applications. You register with one of these websites. You configure what  blogs you are interested in. They will give you a URL. And you access this URL from your mobile just like you access any webpage. These web applications, unlike the RSS reader applications,  optimize the content to fit on your mobile, with nice and easy interface. Moreover, you can just read the headlines and skip the blog if you wish. Your mobile will not download full 10s of posts, while you are interested in reading only one of them. Your mobile will download ONLY what you read. Content optimized for Mobile, No Installation Required. Lots of choice. Easy to configure and access. And most important point, quite healthy for batter life and your pocket.
  1. WinkSite: http://winksite.com/site/index.cfm
  2. Newstouch: http://www.newstouch.com/ 
  3. Bloglines Mobile : Bloglines mobile
  4. Google Personalized Homepage : mobile.google.com
  5. Yahoo http://mobile.yahoo.com/

One application stands out of the crowd and provides the benefits of both approaches.  LiteFeeds(http://www.litefeeds.com/ ) needs an installation on your mobile. But also offers configuration from a webpage. Only problem with this approach is you must configure all your feeds through Litefeeds web app only, whereas if you go with any of the above web applications, you are not tied to any particular vendor. You can access your feeds from Google and you can also access your friends' feeds from Yahoo. Or best of all, you can switch if you don't like. You can always get the best available.

    And next comes a special application/utility AvantGo, ideal for people who don't want to pay for internet access on their Mobiles, but still want to read blogs on mobiles.  AvantGo actually consists of two applications. One need to be installed on your Mobile or PDA. And the second one, a web based application where you configure your feeds. Whenever you sync your PDA/Mobile with desktop, latest from your feeds will be downloaded automatically to your Mobile phone. So, you can read them on your mobile without having access to internet. You can access internet and get the latest on the mobile if you wish to. Free version is allowed to download only 2MB, which means around 20 feeds with 5-10 posts in each blog. For many, this is just sufficient.
    My preference is towards Web Applications, particularly Winksite. I tried all of them, and settled for Winksite. Because winksite allows do a lot more than just reading RSS Feeds. It actually help managing your entire internet activities on the mobile. Checkout winksite website for more information.

WinkSite: http://winksite.com/site/index.cfm 

    And before I close, here are two links I found while searching on Google, that have a list of RSS Readers for pocket PCs.
  1. Top 10 Pocket PC RSS Readers
  2. http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-reader-handheld.htm
  3. I assumed that you have a mobile phone that is capable of accessing internet and you have subscribed to a data service from your service provider. Normally carriers charge per each KB you download. Check if you have unlimited data plans available. It pays to get unlimited if you access regularly.

[tags]mobile-applications, mobile-blogging, mobile-life-styles, blogs, mobile-rss-reader,winksite[/tags]

    Popular posts from this blog

    You Are What You Think People Think About You

    Cooking looks like an unforgiving art

    Did NDTV Just Twisted Words?