It’s been far too long since I’ve written anything on great Android apps! Have you noticed? Well, that ends today. If you missed the New Year’s kickoff post of my favorite Android apps, you can link back to that here. This week’s spotlight is on one of my all time favorite apps, Amber.
What Is It?
Before I dive in, what is an RSS reader? An RSS reader is an app that connects to aggregator services, like Feedly to display your favorite site’s articles for your reading pleasure. Some have unique features baked in, some have tons of customization options, and others are just terrible. So in essence, I’m doing you a favor. This is the reader you’re going to want to pick up.
- Gorgeous, Relevant Design: Amber is simply stunning. The layout and spacing is perfect. From the home page to the navigation drawer, everything is where it should be and looking fine! Amber strictly adhere’s to Google’s design standards which makes it feel right at home in the Android ecosystem. There are even several customization options to make Amber yours. Choose from a light or dark theme, then choose your link and accent color from the color wheel. Then, throw font selection and sizing on top and bam! All yours.
- Responsive Developer: You’re going to have to try very hard to make Amber crash, but as with any app, it’ll happen. Zhe Lu, Amber’s creator, must have been voted “most likely to respond to a message” in high school. Fast and helpful, Zhe has never let me down if I have an issue. Sometimes he’s even put a new build in the oven minutes after chatting with me! This guy’s insane. What does this matter? User experience. If a product is the greatest thing ever, but the developer doesn’t respond to my emails, I delete the app promptly. This could just lend itself to the culture, but if you talk a big game, I expect a big game, and Zhe brings on the heat.
- Fully Stocked: Amber connects to several different services (Feedly, Feedbin, Bazqux, and FeedHQ) so you shouldn’t have any service integration problems. From there you have tablet optimization (something that Android is having a hard time with at the moment), widgets, full screen immersive mode, status bar notifications, offline caching, and more! You won’t have an issue finding what you need in Amber.
- Small inconsistencies: Every now and then, as I’m using the app, I wonder, “Why does it do that?” Normally when that happens, I just reach out to Zhe and he tells me why (or says oops) and problem solved. For example, When in a feed list, if you swipe the article to mark it as read, it disappears, then reappears as greyed out or “read”. Why does it disappear then reappear? Got me. But it does.
- Occasionally Long Loading Times: This might have more to do with my terrible feed upkeep, but if you have a ton of unread articles in a feed, or if you load an article that’s very long or has a ton of images, it can take up to 30 seconds to load. Like I said, this could be more of my straining the app itself, but it does happen and I’m not sure if it can be optimized or not (I’m hoping the former).
Amber’s Usefulness to the Church
Let’s face it, techies love information. Chances are you’re already using an RSS reader now, maybe you’re even reading this article on one! Ultimately, the right information in our hands can make us more powerful assets to God’s kingdom as we become more aware of culture and see more ways we can serve our local communities. So if you’re not on board, get on board. If you are on board, give Amber a try. I highly recommend it. If you want to be included in beta releases, or need an easy way to report bugs, check out this community on Google+.
What do you use to intake written news? Do you have a favorite app you’d like to share?
[image via Reindeer Crafts]