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Press: Google Reader done right? Or just different?

Press, a brand new Google Reader news client, has been the focus of the Android app community since its release, being heralded for its great design choices and general ease of use. It certainly isn't the first -- nor will it be the last -- in this arena, but right now its one that has everyone watching, and early indications are that it's living up to the hype.

Do the design and features offer enough of a draw to pull you away from another reading app of your choice? Stick around after the break and see if Press is worth your consideration.

The basic premise of Press, if you're not familiar, is to sync with your Google Reader and serve up news that you've added via RSS feeds. It's generally something that the more tech savvy -- or dare I say "power users" -- among us will use to consume news, but that's not to say that a novice couldn't set up a similar system on their own. Make no mistake, however, this isn't as simple and visually appealing as an app like Flipboard or Google Currents will be to the average user. That being said, for those who need to churn through thousands of stories every week -- say, like writers for a technology website -- a great, minimalist RSS news reader is a necessity.

This is a minimalist news reading client done right.

Interface and navigation

The main interface and navigation of Press isn't more than a stone's throw away from what Google already offers in its first party Reader client, but that last bit of difference is what makes it so great. To be honest most of the hard design work for Press was done for them -- this app follows Google's "holo" guidelines extensively. That's not at all meant to take anything away from the developers, the folks at TwentyFive Squares have made one hell of a nice app here, but more to say that Press is just taking the great Android design cues already available and making the best app possible. You can tell that time was spent on the user experience and ease of use rather than superfluous animations and wasted features.

Navigation is extremely simple, with just three tabs across the top of the app -- unread (a filled circle,) read (an open circle,) and starred. For some reason my immediate reaction was that the circles for read and unread should be reversed, and it really took a while to get used to it. Something about the open circle tells me "unfinished," and the closed circle means it's "complete." Weird OCD moments aside, everything here is simple to use. You get a numerical count of read/unread articles at the far right of each folder listing, and a set of red dots that indicate the number of feeds the articles are in. For example, two red dots and "10" on the side mean there are two feeds with ten unread stories between them. It helps you get a feeling for how much news is really in the folder before you tap through -- if there's one feed with 30 unread stories, you can probably guess someone reset an RSS feed and flooded the folder.


The settings menu of Press is an exercise in minimalism -- which isn't usually found in conjunction with a power user type of app -- but all of the main categories can be found here. You can manage the number of articles that can be synced, a few different UI tweaks and that's about it. One setting that seems to be missing is a background sync interval to keep articles in order. I don't necessarily need this personally because I'm always going to hit the refresh button when I enter so I have the absolute latest news, but I could see some users wanting this. A happy (battery and data friendly) middle ground would be a "refresh on app open" checkbox.

Another setting that I personally wish was there is a way to hide specific folders from views. I also use Google Reader to manage my podcast (both audio and video) feeds on my computer, and I just have no need for those to show up in my news client. My podcatcher is smart enough to take in just my podcast feeds, my news reader should be able to handle the opposite.

Usability and design

I alluded to the extreme simplicity and ease of use in the above sections, but there really is nothing fancy about the interface here, and that's a really good thing. The interface of Press just gets out of your way and lets you read your news. When in a news feed, you're mainly using the sliding panel paradigm. You tap a story to view it, and when you want to go back to the articles list you slide it back over and select a new story. You can use the overflow settings key in the top right to share the article, copy the URL, open in the browser and change fonts. 

Speaking of fonts, there are several available: Roboto, Open Sans, Source Sans Pro (default,) Lora, Bitter and PT Serif. I'm really a fan of Roboto (the default font in Android since ICS) so I kept with that in my use. I'm far from a font connoisseur -- I know some of you are -- but I really enjoyed all of the font offerings here. Any regular user picking up the app will be happy enough with the default font that they won't even consider looking for a setting to change it. There are two simple buttons at the top left of each page to increase or decrease the font size -- a nice touch. Again, the fonts are just another part of the app that simply let you read. Perfect.

Of the articles I've read using Press, everything formatted nicely with no issues. Inline pictures, block quotes and links all displayed properly, making for a smooth experience. Scrolling and navigation were extremely quick (this running on my Galaxy Nexus) with nary a hiccup. I highly suggest you use the integrated browser as well, as it offers a nearly seamless switch between RSS and web views. Pages load much faster than an external browser and have the same great performance as the pre-loaded RSS stories.

As with any new app, it will take some time to get used to the gestures and controls before you feel comfortable with it. That time comes quickly with Press, and it won't take long before you start to get into some of the neat hidden features -- such as double tapping images to enter a zoom mode or tapping article favicons to mark stories read/unread. When it comes to just picking up the app and using it, I still can't express how simple Press is to use.

The verdict

If you're already in the Google Reader ecosystem when it comes to managing and reading news, there really is no better choice out there right now than Press. With a simple design and easy to use navigation, it blows Google's own Reader app out of the water and surpasses many of the more complicated clients out there.

If you're currently using a more casual app -- such as Flipboard or Currents -- to read news, moving to Press is a bigger investment than just the app. The choice of whether or not this app commands such a big move (to an RSS feed system) is a personal one, but if you do make it then Press is the client to get.

Press is only $1.99 in the Play Store, and after a few days with it you'll likely think it commands a much higher premium for the quality experience it offers.

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

  • Quote:
    "When in a news feed, you're mainly using the sliding panel paradigm. You tap a story to view it, and when you want to go back to the articles list you slide it back over and select a new story. " This is the biggest complaint in the market. You don't have Google Reader's quick way of sliding to the left to advance to the next story. You constantly have to dance back and forth from the list to the stories. Second big complaint is last of background syncing. You have to wait for it to update when you open the app. The biggest gripe I have about Google Reader is the need to open the external browser for lots (most) stories. I'll have to see if the built in browser will over power the two above objections.
  • I can't swipe to go to the next story/article/post? Deal-breaker. Once Reader added that feature I can't go back. When my busier feeds get out of hand it really helps speed things up. Especially before bed time. I can't go back to clicking back after each one. Also: I agree about Reader needing it's own browsing function. I like how apps like Pocket will aggregate and rerender an entire (even multipage) article into a compressed format for easy/quick reading. If Reader could implement that INTO Reader itself it would be a game-changer. Regardless, I'm sticking with Reader for the time being. Another day, another Reader replacement that isn't good enough. :\
  • *alluded
  • Good catch ;)
  • I like the look and feel of this new app, but feature-wise, too bare bone for power users like me. I have hundreds of feeds in Google reader and some of them I don't care to read on mobile thus excluding them from sync, Press doesn't have the option to control feeds. For now, I'll stick with gReader Pro until Press comes out with feed control and offline reading.
  • There is a very good google news reader, tons of features, very neat, fluid, offline caching, able to mobilize article using Instapaper / Readbility or Google Mobiliser, able to rearrange subscriptions and also has magazine layout. This is possibly the best RSS reader out there in the market. I also use gReader Pro but it consumes huge resources when you have lot of feeds syncing. I have been using Reader for very long time now and I still find no good alternatives to it. Of course i Like flipboard, but for Google RSS reader this would be no 1 choice. Reader :
    Reader Free :
  • Yes, i came here to post this. Reader is AWESOME.
  • Do you really think that gReader consumes a lot of resources? I'm still using my old HTC Desire (running JB though), and gReader runs flawlessly for me. I've downloaded Reader based on your recommendation though, so thanks. Can't wait to check it out (though it will have to be quite awesome to top gReader for me).
  • i really dont understand the hype! this app has barely no features - i dont even know why i bought it except for the nice UI. And thats all this app gives you - a nice UI. The best RSS Reader out there is by far "Reader HD". It provides a load of features, it gives you a very nice magazine (or normal list) UI that looks just as good as Press. Even gReader Pro is much better than Press. I dont understand how reviewers on so many android-sites are only judging apps by the looks. Yes, Press works good, it looks good, the UI is easy - but thats really it!
    You cant disable/enable image download, no themes (like a night theme), no downloading of complete articles (offline reading..) Try Reader HD - just my opinion...
  • Except for the nice UI, Newsrob has every feature that Press has, and also many of the missing ones, like article to article navigation. Also has built in browser, scheduled sync (regular or wifi only) and your choice of mobilizers. It works, however, the author is not actively adding features or updating the UI, sadly.
  • I really like Newsrob. It isn't flashy but it gets the job done.
  • For me, Feedly is still tops. So the question is whether or not this beats Feedly.
  • Totally agree with that. I use Feedly everywhere. On my Android phone, my iPad, and in Chrome on Windows. I've tried so many reader apps and Feedly is still the best for me by far.
  • +1 I recently started using Feedly and its brilliant (still in Beta for some reason though). Like Press, it also has a very clean, minimal UI and a great internal browser that even cleans up the pages you open for easy reading.
  • Respectfully disagree. I don't want a feed reader that looks like a magazine.
    This is why I love Google Reader. Just the facts mam. I'm would rather skip the pictures and just get to the news.
  • I am very happy with Feedly too.
  • Currents, especially with the latest update, still gets my vote for best app that syncs with Google Reader.
  • Currents doesn't sync with Google Reader though (and that's what sucks about it).
  • What about Pulse. I still havent found a reader I like more than it.
  • Try Taptu. I used to use Pulse too, but Taptu is way better IMO.
  • I tried Press a week ago for my 15 minute refund window. It's awful. But pretty. But really awful. When Android Central tells me that I couldn't possibly do better than Press, I question their motives. Same as all the other commenters, it seems.
  • Hm, I also don't understand the hype, but they must have a much better PR team than other RSS apps.Like Zevral, I've been using Reader, which is just as attractive as Press and more functional. Another good one is JustReader, which also has a similarly clean,elegant interface.
  • One essential feature for me is marking articles as read while scanning. Feedly handles this nicely by displaying multiple articles per page and marking as read when you swipe past them. Without this functionality Press is dead in the water for me. When I have a 200 article unread count in a feed and have just a few minutes to check it, how am I supposed to mark my place? As far as I can tell it doesn't even have a "mark previous as read".
  • you can mark "below as read" (just hold the mark as read button down for a couple seconds) but i dont think that's as useful as previous. marking previous as read is the only thing i can think it needs at this point.
  • I really like the uncluttered simplicity of Press. Reader has always fitted the bill for my news reading habit perfectly but this app is now my primary choice. Interested to read about the ability to change fonts though, I haven't been able to find that feature anywhere in the settings.
  • In Press? Hit the settings button when reading an article and select "Fonts."
  • Press shows some early promise. gReader Pro is still, probably always will be, my go to reader app.
  • I tried press and i have to say for me, it is not as good as many other readers out there on the market. The main reason being it lacks a built-in mobiliser and un-intuitive navigation. I don't know why people are so impressed by its UI, it looks only ok to me. For someone with many many RSS feeds, I find press too much of a hype than actual functionality. gReader Pro or Reader are my favorite.
  • 25 comments and not a mention of D7 Reader? I dare you find a faster reader!
  • "For some reason my immediate reaction was that the circles for read and unread should be reversed, and it really took a while to get used to it. Something about the open circle tells me "unfinished," and the closed circle means it's "complete." Weird OCD moments aside, everything here is simple to use." lol I was thinking the same exact thing. Maybe it would be easier to think of if you visualized FILLED-IN = BOLD and OPEN = NORMAL. You know, like emails. And am I the only one still using Taptu?
  • Personally, I like this app a lot. It's a balancing act of features and design that work for me in this case. I'm glad we're seeing choices that range from insanely feature-rich to simple and design-focused.
  • I don't get the hype. No swiping and most of all, something no one has mentioned yet, no thumbnails.
  • gReader pro def doesn't have the prettiest UI, but I've found it to be the most efficient reader. It's customizable, intuitive and has easy access to all of the features I need.