If you're like me, you want as much information as possible, and you want it at your fingertips. With certain Android home screens (such as HTC's Blinkfeed and LG's Smart Bulletin), news is but a right-swipe away—and there's always Google Now. But what if you want to see a particular news feed on your home screen... say, one that doesn't connect with the built-in news feed tools?
You turn to RSS. That's right, we're going old school. For those who don't know, RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. It's a very easy protocol that allows feeds to be pulled from websites to serve up a collection of story summations that the reader can then click on and enjoy the full read.
Android doesn't have a built-in RSS widget for your home screen. For that, we have to turn to the Google Play Store. The widget I happen to prefer for this is called RSS Widget. This app is free, doesn't have any ads, and does a great job of presenting your RSS feeds cleanly.
Let's install this and then add a feed to the home screen.
Installing RSS Widget is quite simple. Just follow these steps:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for rss widget
- Locate and tap the entry by Waqas Aslam
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Adding the widget to the home screen
The process of adding a widget to your home screen will vary, depending on your device. I'll demonstrate with a Verizon-branded Nexus 6 (as it offers a pure Android experience). With that device, here are the steps for adding a widget to the home screen:
- Long-press a blank spot on your home screen
- Tap the WIDGETS icon
- Locate the RSS Widget by swiping the screen to the left
- When you locate the RSS Widget entry (Figure A), tap and hold, and then drag it to your home screen
Adding the RSS Widget to your home screen.
Configuring the widget
As soon as you add the widget to the screen, the configuration window will appear (Figure B).
Customizing your RSS Widget feed.
Let's add the TechRepublic New Articles feed (find the full list of TechRepublic RSS feeds here). To do this, type a title for the feed in the Heading section, type the URL address (http://techrepublic.com.feedsportal.com/c/35463/f/670841/index.rss), change the update interval (if applicable), set any other options you might like, and tap SAVE. The feed should immediately populate, and you'll see the latest pieces from TechRepublic on your home screen (Figure C).
The New Articles feed from TechRepublic on the Android home screen.
Scroll through the feed until you see a piece you'd like to read, and tap the summary in question. This action will open the post in your default browser so that you can read the full piece.
You can add as many RSS feed widgets as you like (until you run out of home screen pages and space), and if you long-press the added widget, you can resize it to fit even more.
If you're looking for a quick way to get information to your Android home screen, RSS might be the way to go... especially if you don't want to bother with a third-party home screen solution.
RSS not your cup of tea? If not, what are you using to get news to your Android home screen? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.