Once-popular RSS aggregator gReader just got its first update in almost four years. The new v5 release claims improved support for video and podcast playback, dark mode support in article view, and some miscellaneous bug fixes. We’ve also spotted Inoreader support. But unfortunately, reports also claim the app’s ads are especially obnoxious now, and the ad-free “Pro” version of the app many customers purchased years ago is still missing from the Play Store.
gReader is probably most popular for its role as the defacto Android successor to Google Reader. Long-time AP readers and general RSS fans almost certainly remember the death of Google Reader. The popular RSS aggregator never made the company money, according to its product manager, and although that ostensibly was never a goal, the project still had to fight to survive against Google’s repeatedly misguided social efforts, eventually succumbing to the inevitable in 2013. Many Google Reader fans used the gReader app to access their feeds, and when it died, it carried on working with third-party services like Feedly and The Old Reader.
Like many apps of the era, there was a free and a paid “Pro” version of gReader, but the $5 app disappeared from the Play Store back in 2018 when both versions were taken down for a short time. Although the free version made a return (and sports an optional premium subscription), the ad-free Pro version many purchased never came back.
gReader v5 looks basically the same as v4, but with system dark mode support.
This all leads us to now: gReader has suddenly released a series of updates for a new v5 release. The new version includes dark mode improvements like system dark mode support across article and list views, plus improvements to video and podcast playback. Google SSO via for things like Feedly was also broken in the 4.x versions since around 2017, but that’s fixed as of v5.
After being ignored for years, this would be a cause of nostalgic celebration, but many reviews on the Play Store indicate customers are pissed. Although the new version brings a handful of new features like Inoreader support and dark mode in article view, the ads in the app have apparently become intolerable. Although I couldn’t reproduce them while playing with the app on my phone, reviews complain of video ads that can’t be muted, full-screen ads, and in-app redirects, all on top of the standard and much less obtrusive banner ads.
Customers that once used the ad-free Pro version of the app are also upset that they’ve lost access to it and now have to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee for the same experience. So far as we can tell from a cruise through the project’s GitHub, the removal of the Pro app was never explained.
We’ve reached out to the developer behind the app for more information regarding the new v5 release, customer complaints regarding ads, and precisely what happened to the older Pro version of the app. In the meantime, the current version of gReader still works, and it’s still the app you remember from back in the day; you just might have to put up with some obnoxious ads. Inoreader, Feedly, Palabre, and Flym are all alternatives, if you don’t like the direction gReader is heading.