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April 4, 2008 / Marco

Make the Most out of Your Nokia Cell Phone RSS Reader

One way of classifying Symbian S60 reader applications is to take into account whether or not they offer features which cell phones don’t provide on their own, or if they tend to introduce features which complement or replace pre-existing features found in our handsets. While I fully embrace applications which belong to the former group, usually I accept the latter applications after a good deal of trialing and comparison. With this mental background, I decided to see if the built-in Nokia RSS reader can satisfy my needs or I should use other applications and web-based services.

Why use an RSS reader in the first place?

The World Wide Web is an increasingly complex phenomenon. Gone are the days when you could point your browser to a certain web site and reach there in a couple of seconds. With a flurry of web sites which should be visited daily and with the high degree of advertisements and frames they offer, the need for an efficient mechanism which would simplify web site access is more compelling than ever before. RSS (or Really Simple Syndication) allows people to receive information about their desired web sites in the form of single articles or separate URLs. Users can then open each URL separately or, in case the article doesn’t arouse their interest, ignore them. Needless to say, web sites should support this standard in order for internet users to take advantage of such an innovative breakthrough. Fortunately, however, many web sites support it.

RSS feeds and the S60 web browser

The S60 web browser found in all Symbian 3rd Edition Nseries handsets comes with a built-in feed reader. To access it, you should go to the web browser menu option by pressing “Key 1”, select “Bookmarks” and choose “Web feeds”. If the “Web feeds” window isn’t empty, that is if you have added RSS feeds to the application, the name of each RSS feed appears along with the number of unread items it holds followed by the time and date it was refreshed to get new items: IMG: main feed reader window. Typically the name of an RSS feed looks like the following:

“Nseries WOM World RSS Feed (10) 22:50 03/31/2008.”

Adding, modifying and reading a feed

To add a web site to the list of RSS feeds, first move to that web site – https://mobilespace.wordpress.com for instance, press “Key 1”, move to the “Subscribe” submenu and select the feed you want to add. If your web site doesn’t support the RSS standard, you won’t see the Subscribe submenu. At any rate, if you add a web site to the list of available RSS feeds, you can then handle it in a good number of ways. Just open “RSS Feeds”, move to the RSS feed you desire and press “Key 1” to see the available options: IMG: RSS feed options. To modify the name of an RSS feed, for instance, move to “Manage feed” and select “Edit”. To delete it, go to “Manage feed” and choose “Delete”, or use the “C” key instead.

To open the desired RSS feed press “Key 1” and select “Open”, and to get a list of the most recent articles for your feed press “Key 1” and select “Refresh”. This will display 10 or 15 article names: IMG: items inside a feed. To read an article, move to it, press “Key 1” and select “Open”. This will display the article summary. To read the whole article, again press “Key 1”, select “Open” and wait for the article to load.

Delve into the world of RSS feeds

What if you have the URL for an RSS feed? You need not open its web site first in order to be able to add it to the list of RSS feeds. Simply go to the list of previously added RSS feeds, press “Key 1”, move to the “Manage feed” submenu and select “New feed”: IMG: add a new RSS feed. Provide a suitable name for the feed, type the feed URL, and that’s all about it.

You can set your RSS feeds to be updated to avoid refreshing them manually. To make this change, press “Key 1”, select “Settings”, move to and select “Web feeds”, and modify the solitary setting you see there: IMG: RSS feed settings. The available options are:

  • Off,
  • Every 15 minutes,
  • Every hour,
  • Every 4 hours,
  • Every day,
  • Every week.

Known limitations

There are a couple of issues which affect the use of the built-in Nokia RSS reader. First, the list of articles for an RSS feed is limited to 10 or 15 items. That is, sometimes I get 10 articles per feed and sometimes 15. This is a diminutive figure, to say the least. This number should be user-defined and allow the presence of at least 30 articles by default. I suggest “30” because if you refresh a feed and get, say, 10 articles, currently the result of previous refreshes are removed due to this restriction. More important than that, article names cannot be deleted from the list. While each feed subscription can be easily removed, this doesn’t apply to the article list. I think the Nokia RSS reader should allow the removal of individual articles to make room for the ones which are believed to be more important. This will also make navigation in the article list much easier.

Extra tips

If you are a Symbian screen reader user, note that Code Factory’s Mobile Speak doesn’t support the RSS reader while Nuance TALKS&ZOOMS does. Also, the “article summary” window isn’t accessible, but the “full article page” is. With Nuance TALKS&ZOOMS, you can label the icon which displays the “read” or “unread” status of articles. The icon precedes the article name, and you should first open an article, return to the list of articles, label the “read” icon for that article and then label the “unread” icon for another article.

Is it worth the effort?

With its instant availability, accessible user interface and simple design, I think the built-in Nokia RSS reader is the best choice for the hard-core S60 3rd Edition handset owner. However, if you want to compare it with other services or apps for yourself, you might want to give something like Google Reader a try. I for one am satisfied with what Nokia offers in spite of its limitations.

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Amir / Apr 6 2008 4:31 pm

    I’m not aware of such a Nokia online service. It would be, however, cool to be able to read RSS feeds in a synchronized way so that what we read on our PCs gets the status of “read” on our handsets and vice versa. Google Reader is a very feature-rich RSS aggrigator, but screen readers don’t support its interface. I’ll try it in a few days to see if this has changed.

  2. roma / Apr 9 2008 2:56 am

    Shame though it doesn’t support the import of opml files. Trying that the feeds go to the Podcasts map. Now you have to enter them one by one.

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  1. Nseries WOM World » Blog Archive » Use your Nokia RSS reader wisely

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