How to add apps, social content, news, RSS, change colors and tweak settings in HTC's home screen reader
HTC's BlinkFeed home screen reader is at the heart of its Sense UI, bringing social updates, news and app content to a special scrolling list in the app launcher.
First introduced on the HTC One M7 last year, BlinkFeed returns in HTC Sense 6 with a new look, support for new services and even more customization options. Available first on the HTC One M8, HTC says BlinkFeed will eventually be coming to other Android phones through Google Play, giving owners of rival devices the chance to see what all the fuss is about.
And BlinkFeed is more customizable than ever in Sense 6. Check past the break to see how you can make BlinkFeed your own.
The basics — adding services and apps
The first thing you'll want to do is start adding content from apps and social networks to your BlinkFeed loadout. You'll have the option to add some stuff as part of the initial setup, but to add new stuff at any time, simply swipe to BlinkFeed (the leftmost home screen page) and select the three dots next to the search box. Then tap "Services & Apps."
From there you'll see a list of supported services —
- Calendar: This will usually appear first thing in the morning, showing you upcoming appointments for the day ahead. Info is taken from the built-in HTC Calendar app.
- Facebook: See updates from your friends in your BlinkFeed. HTC tells us this is weighted to give more prominence to more "liked" posts.
- Fitbit: You'll see badges and other updates in your feed. Even if you don't have a Fitbit, the HTC One M8 will track basic activity stats.
- Google+: See status updates from Google's social network. All your circles and communities are included.
- Instagram: See your friends' photos in your feeds. You'll need to authenticate BlinkFeed separately from the standalone Instagram app.
- Kid Mode: If you use the Zoodles-based Kid Mode on your phone, new photos from your kids will show up in your BlinkFeed.
- LinkedIn: Show updates from your contacts in your feed.
- Restaurant recommendations: Uses your location to show you recommendations for nearby places to eat, based on data from Foursquare. (You don't need a Foursquare account to turn this on.)
- TV: Displays upcoming shows in your feeds, based on your favorites.
- Twitter: Show tweets from people you follow in your feeds.
- Zoe: Show highlights from your photo album in your BlinkFeed, based on your location data.
You can add as many or as few apps and services as you like. And once you're done, it's time to add news content.
Adding news content
The easiest way to add news to BlinkFeed is by selecting "Add content" from the menu and tagging publications and categories you're interested in from the grid that appears. (You'll find Android Central and all the other Mobile Nations sites under "Technology & Science," by the way.)
Adding sites or categories to your feeds is as simple as checking the box next to them. BlinkFeed can also recommend you content by looking at what you've shared on Google+ and Facebook — in the "Add Content" menu, tap the three dots, then select "Recommend content."
The dropdown menu at the top also allows you to add content from different "editions" of BlinkFeed for various countries. To remove these later, select "Remove editions" from the menu.
Adding RSS feeds and custom topics
Adding news from an RSS feed is a little more involved, but relatively easy. First, find the RSS feed you want to load in your web browser and select it. When you're asked which app to open it with, select BlinkFeed. You'll then see a list of articles from your chosen site — tap the "add" icon in the top right corner to add it as a custom feed.
How to change the color of BlinkFeed
Like many HTC Sense 6 apps, BlinkFeed takes its accent colors from whichever theme you're using (by default on the HTC One M8, the green theme is used.) To change colors, go to Settings > Personalize > Theme and select the palette you want — green, orange, purple or black. If you're changing themes, you'll also be asked if you want to change your default wallpaper.
How to add or remove the weather clock in BlinkFeed
Depending on whether BlinkFeed is your default home screen, you may or may not see the traditional HTC weather clock at the top of your feeds. It'll be there if BlinkFeed is your default home screen; if not, the name of the category you're viewing (for example, "Highlights") will replace it. HTC tells us this is the case to avoid any duplication of functionality with widgets you might have on your home screen.
To change which page is your default home screen, first pinch out on any page, then long-press on the page you want as your default until you feel the vibration alert. Then you can drag it up to the area on the top left to set it as the default home screen.
How to disable BlinkFeed (and how to get it back)
BlinkFeed can be removed from your launcher the same way as any other home screen page. Simply long-press on it, then drag it up to the "Remove" area at the top right. Want to bring it back? It's as easy as tapping the + icon next to BlinkFeed from the same menu. And don't worry, you won't need to re-add all your apps, news and services, they're saved whether BlinkFeed is running or not.
So, HTC One M8 owners, what's in your BlinkFeed? Hit the comments and let us know!