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Viigo BerryReview Editon – BlackBerry RSS Reader & More

I know many of use Viigo already while some of you are even using the new Viigo Project Tango Beta. We have been playing with this idea for awhile and thought it would be great to create a BerryReview branded version of Viigo. I use Viigo practically every day while riding the subway and have been a fan since the early days (remember those?) when it was called NewsClip.

ViigoBerryReview[1]ViigoBerryReview[2]

Since Viigo/NewsClip was first released back in 2005 Viigo has grown into the leading RSS and mobile content viewer for the BlackBerry OS. Viigo truly makes BerryReview portable. Our full content RSS feeds, including images, maintain their look and format perfectly in Viigo. Viigo also lets you easily open each article to view the mobile version of the BerryReview website. Their upcoming Project Tango really promises to impress. I can’t wait to see how podcasts work in future versions.

Sadly there is no BerryReview branded Tango beta but once Tango is out of beta it will be available. We will also (hopefully) start recommending some great RSS feeds to add to Viigo. We are planning this release so that we can offer you an interactive mobile experience when the more customizable Project Tango is released.

Check out more details or download the application to your BlackBerry by heading to
www.getviigo.com/Berryreview

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Let us know what you think!

BTW: I know I am going to get some flack from the NewsGator Go & FreeRange fans since quite a few of the BerryReview writers swear by them. (You know who you are )

20 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I am very happy with Viigo for its simplicity and I hope they continue to offer this version besides Tango. I know Tango is still beta but, it is overloaded with so much stuff that I may not want, yet cannot be removed from the home screen. Besides, it is crawling! I have given them feedback on these issues and I hope they will consider it.

    Feature creep is a disease with some software companies (hello Microsoft!) and I hope Viigo will not fall into this trap.

    Needless to say, I downgraded back to Viigo from Tango.

  2. I have to agree on with you zipmob. If they would allow choosing which info you wanted on the Tango home screen, and removing what you don’t want, it would be a lot better. Better yet, only load the modules you need (like weather, podcasts, whatever) so the file size stays as small as possible. Otherwise it might turn out like Yahoo Go. :-(

  3. You both raise excellent points.

    I’d like to confirm that when Viigo ships in September, the home screen will be fully customizable. You will be able to add and/or subtract any services you want. For the first beta, we decided to fix the services on the home screen for technical reasons.

    We are also working hard on optimizing performance and memory utilization, so expect to see improvements in both of those as we move through the summer betas.

    Mark Ruddock
    CEO
    Viigo

  4. I have a few questions. Is Viigo developed on desktop 20-inch screens and are the developers reminded often that the program is supposed to run on 2-inch-screen devices? I assume they aren’t. Why else on Earth would text wrap around images in a program made for 2-inch screens? Does anyone around the Viigo Labs ask that kind of question? Do they get answers? Or have the Freerange people patented the separation of text and images each in their own horizontal space? I don’t know, the USPTO will let people patent just about anything, won’t it?
    .
    By the way, I think that top banner + the bottom bar + the navigation ribbon still leaves too much visible space for the content in the middle. Could you please come up with something else and block the view a little more? Since the “widescreen” format is all the rage these days, what the heck? Make that viewport even narrower and it will finally be 16×9 like a micro widescreen in the palm of our hands.

  5. I agree WRT images and text wrapping.

    This only happens on certain feeds (i.e. those specifically formatted by the publisher to display that way). Because the use the embedded BlackBerry browser control to display these, we don’t have as much control as we’d like in overriding these types of formatting decisions. We’re currently exploring using our own control, thereby giving us much more freedom not only in how things are displayed, but in also providing shortcut keys (such as space bar page down) that have long been requested by our users.

    WRT screen real-estate, yep, it’s always a challenge … I’d be curious to know what type of device you have?

    Mark Ruddock
    CEO
    Viigo

  6. On the subject of screen estate, I think the gray “breadcrumbs” bar is redundant. It mirrors the title of the RSS feed anyway, so I don’t see what the purpose is for. Also, the “Viigo Beta” logo bar is too big taking up precious screen estate again. I noticed on some feeds, on the left of the logo bar adverts are placed there. I am assuming that some time down the line, that will have to be clickable to monetize content.

    The fonts used for RSS feed list should also follow the system default setting as that is what the user is accustomed to. Right now, it is way too small to read.

    My biggest gripe would have to be the “Full Article” feature. Some feeds span across a few pages. Right now, we can’t access the next page unless we launch Browser. IMHO I feel this should be addressed before making more fancier visuals or blobs that aren’t really useful.

  7. Yes, some of us prefer FreeRange or Newsgator. Why? Because they are better products. Everything that Viigo (pre-Tango) does, the others do. And the others do more. And they do it faster, easier, and with fewer errors.

    Some say that Viigo is great because of its simplicity. The others (FreeRange, at least) keeps that simplicity, but offers more if you need it.

    Viigo fails to display some feeds that the others do without problems. Mark and I have e-mail about this, but I don’t get the sense that it’s going to be remedied in Tango (hint: if you come out with Tango and it doesn’t work with all the feeds that FreeRange can, then how can you claim to have a better product?).

    Viigo doesn’t render pages as well, as others have pointed out. The rendering in FreeRange is cleaner. And easier to read.

    Viigo forces you to use the fonts THEY want you to use. FreeRange lets me pick a font size that I’m comfortable with. Tango is still missing this.

    I could go on and on, but I find that pre-Tango to be a significantly inferior product to FreeRange (price aside, which is a valid point) and I’m always amazed when people praise it. As far as Tango, it’s adding podcasts, which is great. But the other stuff it’s adding feels more like bloat. And, at least with what’s been shown so far, appears to be a highly buggy product (the regular RSS feed stuff doesn’t work, which is odd since it’s the same as what’s in the old version) and one that corrects none of the deficiencies.

    Mark: You need to ensure that it works with all feeds, renders better, and allows user confiugurability to suit the user… and not your developers.

    Oh, and this doesn’t even raise my biggest issue: Viigo is often behind in bringing up feed data. I’ve done side-by-side with FreeRange and FreeRange consistently brings up new feed data before Viigo. I have some feeds in Viigo that haven’t updated in days, even though they update in 40 minutes in FreeRange.

    I’ve done side-by-side comparisons of render quality and FreeRange consistently wins.

    I’ve done side-by-side comparisons of ease of use (how much trackball scrolling I need to do, for example) and Viigo is consistently harder to use. For example, how in the heck do I scroll by an entire screen at a time?

    Sorry to be so negative, but it amazed me how much worse Viigo is than FreeRange, but how much people love it. Maybe I’m missing something. Can someone explain it to me?

    And, Mark, are you planning on improving the good old RSS stuff to render better and to actually work all the feeds that FreeRange does? Are you planning on ensuring that the user can get 30 minutes updates, if they really want? Or will this have to wait for some far distant release?

  8. Well, Viigo costs zero dollars while Freerange costs $40 per year. Freerange is one of the most expensive applications in the entire Blackberry catalog if you intend to use it for 2 or 3 years. If that doesn’t explain a lot of Viigo’s popularity, I don’t know what else does.

  9. “Well, Viigo costs zero dollars while Freerange costs $40 per year.”

    Excellent point. FreeRange is free, up to 10 feeds. The only reason I keep hoping that Viigo would improve is because they don’t have the 10 feed limit. And, yes, $40/year is crazy!

    So, what we have is that Viigo is the cheap product. But that’s very much different from it being a good product. From the way people talk about it, it seems like people feel that no better piece of software has ever been written (at least for the Blackberry).

    So, I understand the popularity based on price.

  10. Not sure if there is a changelog somewhere, but I noticed when I installed this Berryreview edition the version was something like 2.2.131 versus the 2.2.81 I had previously. So, for those who were going to skip this, it MAY be that the version upgrade fixes some stuff but I just don’t know. I didn’t prowl around the web site trying to find out what was different though.

    I guess it comes with the territory, but having the Berryreview graphic (and it’s a different Berryreview graphic to boot) on the top bar of any feed that doesn’t have a custom graphic is annoying (to me). I have become used to glancing there to see what feed I am reading, and it’s a bit weird to see the Berryreview name at the top of a National Hurricane Center forecast or a Ars Technica or Playstation.blog article.

    Not fixed still is the size of the icon on the desktop. It seems recent versions the icon has grown to utilize every available pixel. However, what that means is that when a theme such as Dimension Today+ is in use (probably other themes too), the yellow highlight is practically indistinguishable. Could we get a Viigo desktop icon that’s a couple pixels smaller please???

    And I’ll echo the comments about text wrapping. My gosh, what are you thinking Viigo developers when you force us to try to make out words that are in a column of text 1 or 2 characters wide beside a picture???

    I am grateful for Viigo being FREE to nurture my growing RSS addiction, but I would GLADLY pay. I WILL NOT pay Freerange’s $40/year fee though, that is just OUTRAGEOUS.

  11. Jeff –

    What a lead-off paragraph — in early Usenet days, this would be borderline “flame bait”…. Saying “some of use prefer FreeRange or Newsgator. Why? Because they are better products.” You pack quite a bit of implication in a small amount of text, and it hardly comes across as objective. A shame to wade into this in a combative sarcastic fashion.

    Before addressing any of your specific points, I think you might want to re-read your own post for the most salient part. In your own words, you say “Sorry to be so negative, but it amazed me how much worse Viigo is than FreeRange, but how much people love it.”

    OK – you’ve made it clear that you don’t understand why so many people “love” Viigo, but you’ve acknowledged “how much people love it”.

    Before you jump all over me in a response, you might want to pause and think about that. Viigo is doing something pretty wonderful here — even in the first version, they managed to take an already-defined format and service, and make it far more appealing to a wide segment of the market. Creating a product and brand loyalty is part art, and part science. Viigo seems to be mastering that in a way that’s a bit analogous to the way that the iPod breathed new life into pocket music players. You can argue individual opinions about the iPod user interface and features, but in the end, you can’t dispute the outrageous brand and loyalty they have created.

    People love Viigo for a lot of reasons. In the end, it’s the overall user experience, which has a lot of components. The folks who put out Viigo just “get it”.

    No question that FreeRange may have more settable options and a couple of features that would be nice in Viigo, but the experience just isn’t there.

    I compared the three newsreaders last year, and wound up taking NewsGator Go and Freerange off my blackberry, leaving Viigo as the tool of choice. Reading your post, I thought I should give them another try – maybe I had missed something. So I just downloaded an reinstalled the two of them side-by-side with Viigo.

    Newsgator Go is almost instantly disqualified in my book: there is no background download of article abstracts. I have to open a topic and then wait for the abstracts to download. I checked settings to see if I had missed an option and couldn’t find anything that pertained. If I missed it, please let me know. Right now, I’m in an area with a spotty connection — since the articles aren’t downloaded in the background, I’m finding that I can open a topic folder – and just get a data error as it attempts to download articles. Bad, bad, bad! I just opened “The Online”, and have to watch a “downloading articles” message while Newsgator contacts the server and starts downloading. That’s NOT what I want in my newsreader…

    I’m glad that FreeRange at least runs a background download task. I like having the option to specify download intervals. FreeRange appears to offer a LOT of options that the user can set — being something of a techie, I like that.

    I’m finding that the full-page-at-a-time scrolling in FreeRange is horribly annoying. I imagine it’s good for quick scrolling, but it’s dreadful from a reading perspective. As you read down an article, you have to watch as the line that was at the bottom of your screen is followed by a flash and the next line appear at the TOP of your screen as you scroll down. I personally find this jarring and unpleasant — I haven’t found a way to shut this off yet — please let me know if you know of a way.

    I liked that last (current) production version of Viigo for its total user experience. I like Tango that much more. the side-scrolling to get to the next layer down in nested menus is great. It’s an excellent visual metaphor, the smooth motion manages to convey a sense of polish and attention to detail that you’d normally see on an Apple product. It’s pleasant, visually appealing – and you pay barely any price at all for this bit of animation.

    Also: is it my imagination, or do the Viigo abstracts have a bit more data than the Newsgator abstracts? Do they have the same abstract source?

    Despite the various visual options in NewsGator and FreeRange, Viigo just looks SO much better to me. But that’s subjective.

    Viigo listens to user input, and is accessible to the Blackberry community. Your comments can influence product evolution. Is there anyone around “representing” FreeRange or NewsGator who will take your input? Please let me know.

    I’d like to see more formatting options in Viigo — and I don’t doubt that I WILL see them at some point. The product is evolving.

    For now – Viigo is the master of user experience in blackberry RSS readers. The extra features in Tango are tantalizing, even if they’re not all implemented yet.

    My impression is that Viigo is evolving – but at a controlled pace that incorporates consideration of the future services that will be available through the product. E-commerce is going to be an integral part of this it seems, with the ability to buy tickets (and more?) via Viigo. But instead of slapping this on as an afterthought, it looks like they’ve already given thought to the way it could be incorporated within the context of the new UI. Now THAT is the kind of “attention to detail” and user experience that, I believe, sets them apart.

    You, yourself, noted “now much people love” Viigo. The simplest explanation is that Viigo pays more attention to the overall user experience than the others do, and delivers on those considerations. Despite the “features” of the other products, I just find them to appear clunky and a bit like shareware compared to Viigo.

    BTW: if Viigo were as buggy, incomplete or inferior as you say, you and I wouldn’t see so many rave reviews of the product on every blackberry forum. I know that, if it were buggy or limited as you imply, I would be long gone by now. Instead, Viigo is one of the icons on my home screen, and I read it several times every day. It seems to be rock-solid and incredibly dependable.

    Viigo’s cost, usability and user experience, combined with a growing body of features, make the product pretty much THE RSS newsreader for a blackberry.

    – Jon

  12. Jon, the bait was Ronen’s. I just bit.

    In any case, I find that your response lacks the answer to my question. Why is this considered to be one of the best (if not THE best) product for Blackberry?

    You make good points (although I disagree, but, as you say, these things are subjective). But they don’t answer the question.

    Oh, any by the way, you can scroll line-by-line in FreeRange with the setting “Scroll text by page (instead of line by line)” under “Display.” You see, instead of Viigo deciding what’s best for everyone, FreeRange gives the user the choice.

    I think that’s my issue: Viigo deices what’s best for everyone. There is no sign that Tango is going to be more configurable. I mentioned a few things in my post that would be great configuration options.

    My other issue, which I think is more significant, is that I’ve found a bunch of feeds that Viigo either doesn’t update on a regular basis (I have 2 that haven’t been updated in days despite there being many new articles) or that won’t show full articles (“too many redirections” error). These feeds work well in FreeRange, so it’s not like they CAN’T work.

    As for it looking nicer… I agree that it has an overall nice feel (and Tango feels better). But, I believe, this is because they show graphic headers and have attractive banner ads. As someone else pointed out, however, reading an actual feed isn’t so pretty. FreeRange displays graphics and text in a MUCH more readable way. There is no graphic with 1-2 characters running down the side. They let the user select a text size. Viigo forces you into one text size.

    Keep in mind that the Tango work is focused on adding new features. Which should be great. But the information I’ve been provided says that they aren’t reworking the old stuff. But given that the old stuff is so perfect, apparently (OK, that’s sarcasm), maybe they shouldn’t.

    So, I ask again… why is this product loved so much?

    I any case, I currently use both. That way, I can work around Viigo’s bugs by using FreeRange for the feeds that Viigo chokes on. And I can use Viigo to overcome FreeRange’s 10 feed limit.

    I just wish I had one product.

    This all said, I’ll say that $40/year is crazy. I’d gladly pay a single $40 for FreeRange, but not every year.

  13. I think it’s fair to give another example. In Ronen’s screen shots above, I see the first article is “Mixology.mobi – Figure out How”

    In FreeRange, I can tell the article is called “Mixology.mobi – Figure out How to Mix Drinks.”

    Viigo decided that I don’t need to actually know more than an handful of letters in an article name, so they picked a large and unchangeable (but perhaps pretty) font.

    I mention this because I think I see it… As Jon points out… it’s about style. I’m surmising that people like Viigo because it has style. And people don’t much care about the substance.

    Viigo is like the girl/boy that’s so pretty that they won’t talk to you. They know that they’re pretty and, if you want to be seen with him/her, you have to put up with arrogance. And the conversation lacks.

    Yup, I think that’s it. Pretty face. But lacking when compared to the less attractive, but more capable, people out there.

    For me, Viigo is someone you date. But FreeRange is the one you marry.

  14. If things like Viigo’s side-scrolling ever mattered to me, I’d be using an iPhone.
    .
    Talking about smooth motion, have you tried scrolling a page with pictures in both applications?
    Smooth motion matters when I am directly looking at something (e.g. pictures). When I switch from one particular view to any other view, it does not. It’s just fluff then.

  15. Jeff – apologies for attributing Ronen’s comment to you…Thx re: line scolling in

    FreeRange – I’ll check that out.

    I certainly don’t know what design choices went into Viigo’s approach of “making decisions

    for you”. I imagine the code is simpler and lighter weight, at least in some areas. Having

    worked in software development for a *long* time, I’ve lived with the trade-offs involved

    in providing choices versus making “executive decisions” for users. You will never please

    everyone, and sometimes attempting to yields a complex mess that, in the end, pleases

    virtually nobody. Finding just the right balance is a challenge.

    I know where you’re coming from with the “pretty girl” analogy, but I don’t see it here. If

    Viigo were devoid of utility, or really crappy, it might be different, but in my book

    they’ve simply made design decisions that please some and annoy others. But I also believe

    that Viigo has paid more attention to user experience than the other products have.

    User experience is more than just flash and style. It’s about everything from “out of the

    box” first experience to extensive use over many months. Viigo’s design suggests to me that

    the developers are aware of this notion.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the audience that “loves Viigo” so much. I visit

    Pinstack, Blackberry Forums and Crackberry fairly often, and find that there’s a pretty

    solid core of users there that focus on utility and function as well as the more esoteric

    aspects of user experience. These people have the choice between iPhone and Blackberry, and

    most choose Blackberry — consciously making the choice to give up the “pretty girl” in

    favor of one that is, at once, attractive and more functional for their purposes. These

    same people seem to favor Viigo over the other products — and they, like us, have a choice

    — nobody is persuading or forcing them to “love Viigo”. These folks really are somewhat

    obsessed about functionality, comparing notes endlessly about different versions of the OS

    to find the version with the best battery life, earpiece volume, bluetooth range, GPS start

    up time, memory management, etc. In the end, when these same people are asked to recommend

    an RSS client, Viigo seems to be the predominant recommendation.

    Form and function aren’t mutually exclusive. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend “Zen

    and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig. It’s a combination of a story and

    a treatise on classicism vs romanticism. At first, Pirsig seems to argue in favor of a

    purely classical approach to rational functionality, but in the end, he develops a

    compelling argument that illustrates the need for us to be able to embrace both viewpoints

    concurrently, emphasizing one more than the other as needed for each situation. The

    language in the book is a bit “70’s”, but the book is, in its own way, brilliant. Highly

    recommended.

    The guys who put out Viigo really seem to understand this. Viigo is pretty enough, and

    pleasant enough, to grab your attention quickly. It’s smooth enough to be pleasant even

    after months of use. I, and seemingly a majority of users, find the functionality to be

    just right – and having it delivered in a handsome package just polishes the experience.

    That’s not to say it’s right for everyone. Few products are. I would like more options

    along the lines that FreeRange offers, but I don’t find Viigo’s chosen settings to be

    onerous. I like to tinker, so I hope a future release offers more options, but the choices

    they’ve made are good enough so that I find the overall experience very positive. That’s

    just me, and clearly your preferences are different.

    Being successful in a marketplace like this is brutal and highly competitive. Unless you’re

    shooting in the dark, you have to identify your target market segment, and figure out how

    to differentiate yourself to dominate that segment. I believe that Viigo has figured out

    how to dominate a larger, and probably more lucrative, market segment than the other RSS

    clients. If you’re part of that segment, you’ll appreciate that, and if you’re not, you

    won’t. That’s not particularly good or bad – it just “is”.

    I would, however, take issue with the ideas floated that Viigo is “inferior” or that its

    audience is not discerning. I just don’t buy that at all. I see a very professional product

    offering that is polished, functional and fun to use. It won’t suit everyone, and I can

    easily imagine that it was never intended to be everything to everyone. But the “love” for

    Viigo that you describe reflects their attention to their target market and their product

    execution.

    BTW: I’m not a naive undiscerning nitwit… I’m a CIO with close to 3 decades experience in

    architecture, software development, product design and production (in everything from

    startups to Fortune 100’s), and doing what it takes to attract and hold the attention of a

    target audience. My opinion is still just an opinion, but I have a bit of experience on

    which to base it. I understand the tradeoffs in product design and development, and have

    lived through them many times. I think that Viigo has really hit the sweet spot, and the

    “love” you see for the product reflects that.

    – Jon

  16. not sure if everyone knows but freerange is really “free” now … the 10 feed limit has been lifted for some time but for whatever reason, their website still have not been updated … in any case, i really like freerange over viigo because of the formatting and the vast amount of available options … i try the new viigo beta and it locked up my curve each and every time … oh well back to freerange … one thing that i notice is on some websites/feeds, freerange does not display the gfx in the article while viigo will, weird … still not enff for me to switch tho … i will prob put the old version of viigo just to have the option to view those feeds but overall, freerange is my primary rss reader …

  17. @ Mark Ruddock

    I just recently discovered RSS readers for my Curve and started with Viigo, as it seems very popular. I was quite content until I discovered Viigo cannot access the full article via its own browser with any and all NY Times feeds. A mssg is returned, “Unable to fetch the full article. The publisher may have deleted the article. Please try again later. Too many redirections.”

    I contacted Viigo support and was replied to the same day. I was told the publisher is indeed redirecting too many times, and the only solution was to access the articles via the BB browser.

    I then tried FreeRange and found it does not suffer from this issue. Since the NY Times is my first and primary daily read, I have discontinued using Viigo for now.

    I tried to downgrade from Viigo beta 3.0.246 to Viigo final but at this time both ota links download the 3.0.246 beta.

    I’m posting here in the hopes that you see this Mark and might be so kind as to reply. [email protected]

  18. Galavanter, sorry for the delay in responding, it’s been hectic here this AM :-)

    I have chatted with the dev team about your NYT feed issues, and we should have a fix in for this early next week on the server.

    I’ll let you know once it’s live.

    All the best,

    Mark Ruddock
    CEO
    Viigo

  19. Mark thanks so much!

    Best regards,

    Jim

  20. Hey galavanter – just wanted to give you a head's up, we've now implemented that fix on our server that Mark noted earlier. The 'Full Article' option will now work seamlessly for all your fav NYT feeds. Enjoy.

    Jesse – Viigo, Product Manager

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