The Best Open Source RSS Readers for Android

Stay Up-to-Date While On the Go

A man's hands touch the screen on a modern cellphone with an android operating system
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Really Simple Syndication (RSS) -- sometimes also called Rich Site Summary -- has been a popular way to deliver website updates since around 2000. But the world has changed a lot since this technology's birth, and, today, people want access to their favorite online content whenever and wherever they are. So, whether you're looking for an RSS reader for the desktop or for your Android-based mobile device, free and open source software (FOSS) has a solution for you.

F-Droid

When it comes to FOSS apps for Android, there's possibly no better tool than the F-Droid app. Begun in 2010 by Ciaran Gultnieks, F-Droid is a volunteer project that, according to its official website, is aimed at providing "a repository of FOSS apps, along with an Android client to perform installations and updates, and news, reviews and other features covering all things Android and software-freedom related."

While the overall website is definitely worth your time, it's really just the Android app that we're concerned with here. Available for download by pointing the web browser on your mobile device to https://f-droid.org/FDroid.apk, once installed, F-Droid will provide you with a catalog of pure FOSS apps. In other words, it's like getting a whole other Google Play store filled with nothing but open source software.

If you've only ever installed apps from the Google Play store, you'll need to make sure that you've set your device to "Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources" before downloading F-Droid. In most cases, this is as simple as going into Android's "Settings" menu, tapping on the "Applications" option, and then turning on the choice with language about "unknown sources." The exact details vary from Android version to Android version and from device to device.

Feed Readers

Now that you have F-Droid installed, it's time to fire it up and start browsing. Most of the options below can be found in the F-Droid repository, so installation is a snap.

  • Sparse RSS - Simple, small, and easy-to-use, Sparse RSS is a no-hassle feed reader that, while lacking in bells and whistles, definitely gets the job done.
  • Tiny Tiny RSS - If you're already running your own Tiny Tiny RSS server software somewhere, then why not give yourself access to it on the go? With this app, that's exactly what you can do.
  • Tiny Tiny RSS Reader - Have your own Tiny Tiny RSS server running but don't like the Tiny Tiny RSS app above? This fork of the original project may give you something better suited to your individual needs.
  • NewsBlur - Whether you're paying for a premium NewsBlur account or you're satisfied with the free version, now you can access your NewsBlur feeds from your mobile device anytime you want.
  • ownCloud News Reader - If you've moved to the open source cloud (by way of ownCloud, that is), then this app is the key to unlocking all of your RSS reading needs.

With so many options out there, there's simply no excuse for using proprietary RSS readers on your Android-based device.