Deer Reader walks the line of appealing to casual and power RSS users

Deer Reader, a Google Reader client for Android, has a great design and set of features that has the ability to appeal to a wide range of users. News reading apps usually fall into either the "casual user" (think Flipboard, Google Currents) or "power user" (GReader, Press) category, and Deer Reader is taking a shot right down the middle with its client. Integrating with Google Reader instantly pushes you towards a more involved setup, as most "normal" users aren't keeping curated news and podcast RSS feeds, but what Deer Reader does with the presentation of these RSS feeds is what makes it more user-friendly.

Stick around after the break for a video walkthrough of the UI on both phones and tablets, and to see if Deer Reader is a good choice for you. 

The overall UI of Deer Reader is extremely smooth and responsive, following Google's latest design guidelines and applying its own bit of style on top. The UI on both phones and tablets is holo, with the standard paradigm of a navigation bar on top holding action buttons and a sliding panel on the left as a menu. The settings are sparse but hit all of the right points, with auto-sync intervals and some navigation controls. There's also a very nice scrolling widget, which is again properly holo themed and customizable.

There is certainly a bit of a learning curve to the UI overall, as you're often not sure what a button will do or has done when you've tapped it. I found myself regularly backing out of the app to the homescreen thinking there would be another home landing page when I hit the "back" system navigation button. We're unsure if it was just a bug or intentionally designed this way, but we were also often met with plain white pages after reading articles, giving no indication of what the app was doing. The issue here is not necessarily a lack of a features but a lack of discoverability -- which is probably the better of the two problems to have -- and is the one place we would really like to see Deer Reader improve on its design.

Deer Reader is definitely worth consideration if you're interested in a Google Reader client that can offer a bit more of a laid-back experience, but still integrate with your many RSS feeds for heavy news reading. If for nothing else, it is worth a look simply for the quality design and smoothness of operation.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.