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Review: Viigo Free RSS Reader For BlackBerry

editors-choice-small.jpgReview: Viigo RSS Reader
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆
Editors Choice Award Winner!
Website: www.viigo.com
OTA: www.getviigo.com
Cost: COMPLETELY FREE!
Version:
2.2.80

Our previous review of Viigo is over 6 months old and with the release of the new version I decide it was time to do an update. The usability features added in the latest release of Viigo really make the application shine.

The latest release 2.2.80 of Viigo show the time they have spent on listening to their users. The list of features directly relate to requests made by users to improve the Viigo experience. I have not given Viigo a 10 because there still are a few more issues that I have raised to the CEO of Viigo, Mark Ruddock, which they are working on.

Mark told me in a phone interview that this latest release of Viigo is a usability improvement release and the next version will be adding a boatload of new features.

Check out the full review after the jump to see what features have been added since our last review.

Installation:

You can pick up a copy of Viigo simply by going to www.getviigo.com and installing the app OTA. Viigo is now about 350Kb which is not bad.

Improvements:

More screen real estate

The first thing any previous Viigo user will notice is that there is no longer a “My Channels” title bar on the top of the Viigo homescreen. I agree with Viigo that this was just wasted screen real estate.

Viigo2280[1]

Better fonts

You will also notice that the fonts in the application now use the default font of your BlackBerry. Previously Viigo would impose its own font face on users.

Google Reader & Aggregator integration

I will start the improvements with my favorite. The new Google Reader integration capabilities. Viigo also works with Bloglines and My Yahoo. The new Google Reader integration is in what Viigo calls Phase 1. This means that only the feeds are synchronized but the Read/unread status is not. They plan to bring that in later releases. Also if you delete a feed from Google Reader it gets deleted from Viigo. Unlike previous versions the integration does not cause feeds to be delayed in showing articles!

To add the Google Reader integration you first click the menu button and then select the option “add feed.” Then select “Add your own Channel -> Add Aggregator.”

Viigo2280[5]

You will then get the add aggregator wizard. Pretty cool stuff. You click next and then enter in your username and password:

Viigo2280[6]

You then will get confirmation that the aggregator has been added. Personally I got a quick laugh out of the “Please wait while we discuss this with the Viigo gatekeepers…” screen. I wonder what a gatekeeper gets paid these days…

Viigo2280[7]Viigo2280[8]

You will then see your Google Reader RSS feeds below the regular RSS feeds as you can see below:

Viigo2280[9]

Advertising Model

As we mentioned before Viigo has added advertising to certain feeds so that they can actually pay their rent. You can see that below. The nice part is that as I mentioned before the ads are very tastefully done. You can read that article for more on the ads. Mark has also promised that there will be some Viigo specific offers coming soon in these ads which should be interesting.

Viigo2280[10]

Maximum Article Limits!!!

The next feature in Viigo is more of a compromise that solves a problem I had with many feeds. Viigo limits the amount of articles you can have on your device to a maximum of 1000. Mark told me that anything more than that made the BlackBerry OS very unstable due to the OS running Java garbage collection. Hopefully Viigo will find a way to use the memory card to alleviate the issue.

The reason this is an issue is certain feeds like Digg and Engadget can rack up to 100 articles a day. The way Viigo works is that once it hits the 1000 article limit it deletes the oldest articles. This meant that certain feeds were being canabalized by others.

Viigo solved that by letting you set a global maximum of how many articles can be in each feed. Sadly you cannot do this on a feed basis since the option is a global option. The default is set low at 50 but you can change it. You can see the options below:

Viigo2280[11]Viigo2280[12]

Emailing Articles

The next option added is an improved way to email articles. First of all Viigo removed the annoying [Viigo] added to the subject line of each email. This is supposed to help bloggers who post by sending emails. I personally just like the fact that when I send articles to coworkers they are not all headed by [Viigo]. Personally I used to use header to filter out all the Viigo articles in Gmail but I now I just use the footer it places at the bottom of the email.

They also have a server side process that takes all the HTML out of the email if you wait a second. This feature is great for feeds like Engadget that are full of HTML. The problem is that if you have no data coverage your out of luck…

Viigo also added another option to the article menu called “Send to me.” This is a great one button click to send an article to yourself for later reference. You can check it out below:

Viigo2280[13]

There are two annoying parts about this feature. The first is subjective because after you click the “Send article to me” option it will pop up a box in a few seconds saying “article sent” that you then have to click OK. Why the extra step?

The second problem is that Viigo does not let you change the default sent from address. This could just be me but I like to send articles to different recipients from different addresses. Mark told me that this is a limitation of the BlackBerry OS.

More shortcuts

The next feature improvement was a long time coming. You can now hit the “del” button to delete feeds and articles! The only caveat I have is that you still cannot page down through an article using the “space” key. Mark told me that they have an open bug with RIM to fix this since the current OS does not support it.

Desktop view

This next feature is one that really opened up a few doors for Viigo. They have now added the ability to view a feed in desktop mode. Now the implications of this are not so easily understood unless you are subscribed to a comic feed such as Dilbert. The current Viigo release resizes the image to fit the screen. This made the text tiny. The nice part is that you can now select the desktop view in the menu to view the full image! The only problem with this feature is that you have to select the desktop view for each article since there is no way to set the feed to only open in desktop view. You can see the before and after below:

Viigo2280[14]Viigo2280[15]

Foreign language support

I have actually heard a few Asian users complain that Viigo did not support foreign languages in the articles. According to them this is now fixed. Since I do not subscribe to any foreign language feeds with different characters I cannot attest to this.

Mobile Optimized Websites

Viigo now has the ability to recognize mobile optimized versions of a site. They now allow you to open the mobile version automatically from the feed article.

Pros:

  • Great new usability improvements
  • Aggregator (Google Reader) integration
  • Emailing article improvements
  • Maximum article limits
  • Desktop view
  • Better font control

Cons:

  • 1000 article limit
  • MyViigo web interface limited

Conclusion:

One of the most overlooked parts of Viigo is the MyViigo web interface into your account. Currently this interface is severely limited to only adding feeds. Viigo should really address this in future updates. The MyViigo interface has recently gotten a facelift but no additional functionality was added other than Google Reader. Ideally and new version of Viigo would even allow Read/Unread synchronization with a web or desktop client.

The new usability improvements in Viigo are a major step forward but there are still a few issues that need to be resolved. I can’t wait for them to remove the 1000 article limit. Hopefully Viigo will keep the updates coming. I highly advise picking up a copy of Viigo free from www.getviigo.com

14 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Yet I go to download and only am offered 2.2.70.

    Hope they fixed key shortcuts to be the same as native bb apps. Beyond me why Viigo makes me remember that I’m in Viigo and that ‘n’ and ‘p’ operate backwards in Viigo from how they operate in bb email.

  2. It seems like Viigo is still getting its act together. The corporate BES version is updated to 2.2.82 but the regular version has not been updated. I have just sent them an email about it so hopefully that will be fixed soon!

  3. They need to add WiFi support…

  4. cross your fingers :)

  5. Davidb,
    I did find a solution to the download showing 2.2.70. The problem is that the page is cached on your device. Even if you hit the refresh option or close the browser it wont help. You need to go into
    menu->options->cache operations-> and cleared the content cache. Now I am seeing Viigo 2.2.82 after I refreshed the page again. Hope that helps!

  6. This improvements sound great but I jumped over to Newsgator Go! once it became free for one main reason: Synchronization. I think Viigo has Newsgator Go! beat with pulling feeds and displaying things like images in them (Newsgator Go! doesn’t at all, unless I’m unaware of some setting to change). It caches feeds well, and feels like a smoother app, but without synchronization between FeedDemon and Netnewswire at home, it becomes a hassle to juggle read/unread feeds on my mobile.

    Newsgator Go! wins because it’s also free and synchronizes across all accounts. If/When Viigo can bring this functionality to Viigo, without hesitation I’m jumping back to them. I miss my images and the shortcuts available. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. :)

  7. What I like about 2.2.80 is that th…
    Unfortunately, it still won’t let m…
    All in all, I say it still is quite l…

  8. As I said Syncronization will make or break Viigo. They really need at least a web client that will sync. Or even better combine forces with an opensource desktop client…

    Luc you are having too much fun

  9. @Ronen:
    Thanks…cleared cache and was able to get 2.2.82. Nice feature adds (I especially link “Email to me”) and overall good upgrade to a free program. I haven’t tried the aggregation with my google yet.

    Still annoys me the keyboard shortcuts are STILL backwards from native blackberry.

  10. David,
    I will make a point of mentioning the fact that the keyboard shortcuts are backwards to Viigo. Let me see what I can do :)

  11. @Ronen: Hope you have better luck than did I. I have been complaining (directly to product support reps) about their bass-ackwards shortcuts for over a year.

  12. David,
    I dutifully put in my two cents by them. I tend to be a harsh critic but I actually missed that one. The spacebar issue is what really irks me :)

  13. I’m still getting version 2.2.69 when I try to download, repeated cache clearing to no avail. Any more suggestions?

  14. try going to the JAD download page where you have the two buttons one of which is download. That is the page where it shows the version number. On that page hit the “R” button to refresh the JAD file and you should be good to go. The new version should show up…

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