RSS

Us Android nerds love acronyms. And one that we throw around an awful lot is "RSS." Let's take a look at what it is, and how (and why) you should use it. After the break, people.

In a nutshell, RSS -- which stands for Really Simple Syndication -- is a way for us, the website, to push information to you, the reader, without you having to come and get it. And it's a pretty handy service.

The universal RSS symbol is that orange guy you see up top here. (Minus the headphones.) When you see it, either on a web page or somewhere on your browser, it means that there's an RSS feed about, and it's waiting to be subscribed to.

A universal truth about RSS is that you're going to need some sort of "reader" to decipher it. And that brings us to ...

On your desktop

Android Central RSS

Above is what you see when you click on the Android Central RSS link. (Erm, it's what you see if you don't have a default RSS reader set up yet.) You can see several options for RSS readers on the right, including Yahoo, newsgator, Google, netvibes, etc. Or you can subscribe with any reader you want. Me? I use the web-based Google reader. Which looks like this.

Google Reader

This is Google Reader. From it, I have access to the hundreds of feeds I follow, bringing thousands of stories to me every day, updated constantly. The news comes to me. I don't have to go searching for it.

Sometimes you'll see an RSS feed link end in "xml." That's completely normal, so don't freak out.

On your Android phone

And that brings us to your RSS on your Android phone. The two main ways you'll be likely to use RSS are for news, and podcasts.

News

HTC Sense - news widgetRSS Reader

Above are but two ways to use RSS news feeds on your Android phone. On the left an RSS news widget in the new Sense UI. On the right is the Google Reader mobile version. Some RSS readers sync with your Google Reader feeds. Some require you to add the feeds manually. We'll have an RSS reader roundup in the near future.

Podcasts

 Google ListenDoggcatcher

 

RSS feeds also are how you subscribe to podcasts on your phone, using what's called a "podcatcher." Really, it's just another RSS reader, tailored for podcasts. (See our podcatcher roundup for some of your favorite apps for that.) Most podcatchers (the good ones, anyway) have categories of podcasts to choose from, or allow you to search for specific shows. Google's "Listen" podcatcher goes one further and allows you to subscribe to podcasts via Google Reader. The podcast RSS feed is then synced to Google Listen on your phone. 

Another way to add podcast feeds on your phone's podcatcher is to directly add the RSS feed. Attention Google Listen users: That's what you have to do to add our podcast feed, as for some reason Google still hasn't indexed it. You either need to sync it from the Google Reader side, or manually add http://feeds2.feedburner.com/androidcentral?format=xml.

Here's a helpful video.

And that's it. Adding a podcast to a podcatcher -- or any RSS feed to a reader -- is as simple as adding the RSS link. Easy. As. Pie. Now get to subscribing!

 

Reader comments

Android 101: What is RSS?

12 Comments

Google Reader embeds google listen, making it a one stop shopping center for feeds of all kinds.

As long as you don't want to read in the subway, there is no reason to install any apps for either feeds or casts. Of course if you read in your bunker or on airplanes, Google Reader will not cache any content on your phone.

Reader is awesome.

Where do you get the RSS widget for Sense? I don't have it on my Incredible and it doesn't come up when I update my HTC widgets in the "Get More HTC Widgets" section.

It's not on the Incredible. Yet.

Expect it soon from the "more widgets" option or from a crafty person @XDA IMO. It's just a few files that seem to be compatible with the Incredible framework.

Extremely helpful post... as a long time google reader user this was still insightful since I'm new to the droid platform. The RSS widget for Sense looks like a nice UI can't wait for it on the Inc.

Why doesn't AC have a normal RSS feed, as in information and photos, not just a podcast? If I subscribe using MyYahoo, it just gives me the weekly podcasts. If I subscribe using Google Reader, it just gives me headlines which link to your site. As far as I can tell, AC does not have any actual RSS feeds that are usable, which is a shame considering it's one of the foremost Android sites on the web.

Please explain and/or fix.

Can't wait for the News widget to come out for Sense UI on Incredible. I am an RSS power user, and would love to have this feature.

Can't wait for the RSS roundup post, too. I can't seem to find one I like for my Incredible.

lol, i love when people call themselves "power users"....i always get a chuckle out of that.

I'm using the Google News and Weather widget on my Incredible. Just look in the forums, they posted a link to the APK file.

OR, use AnyRSS Widget. You can download it from Market...it's very slick!

Great article, but what about the Nexus One? I was using ByondPro free but it kept crashing on me. So now I'm back to Google Reader on the mobile browser. Which is fine. But audio podcasts is what I'm really looking for now! New user here too, just got the N1 this week.