Could you recommend an iPhone Google Reader client with updating home-screen badge for unread item count?

I'm interested in an app that's able to update the badge while the app is not running.

Update: I'm aware that when you quit an app it can no longer perform certain tasks. However, iOS is capable of receiving push notifications to update badges on the home screen regardless of whether the app is running or not.

  • PS. I've tried Newsify but this doesn't seem to be refreshing the home-screen badge Jun 21, 2012 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


No Google Reader App that I have used/seen has had an option to do this. It would require the app to be running in the background and checking, which Apple doesn't technically allow in the case that we are speaking of. This mostly has to do with how Apple gives certain privileges to Apps when multitasking. It may be something that gets expanded on in the future but I have not seen any apps at the moment that will do what you asking.

I use the Reeder on both my iPad and iPhone and it has an unread counter home-screen badge but it won't update it will my phone is sitting idle.

I know it probably wasn't the answer you were looking for but I hope it helps. Until Apple allows for better multitasking features to be available to developers, we won't see any apps that do this without extreme work arounds by developers or jail-breaking.

I don't recommend jail-breaking your iDevice but other will probably mention that it might be possible to do it through that kind of means, but that is your choice to go down that route.

  • Why would we require the RSS app to run in the background? Surely an app server could poll the Google API and send the unread count as a push notification to the user's iPhone? Jun 21, 2012 at 16:18
  • @ChrisBeach Thats true, but then that requires the developer to have a push notification server that then does this for every single user of his app, and it also requires that developer to have external (non-app) access to our google reader accounts as well. The push notification servers are not provided by Apple, they are provided by developer costing them money. On top of that, it would constantly polling googles servers and if there is an API that googles provides to do this, it could also cost money. So, while it technically can be possible to do this, it can be expensive.
    – de_an777
    Jun 21, 2012 at 16:24
  • I understand what you're saying, but a) The payload is negligible b) I, as a user, would be willing to pay for this service c) I don't mind my Google auth token being stored on a developer's server (provided they're an established operation) Jun 21, 2012 at 16:29
  • I would also add that this update doesn't need to happen constantly. Once per day would actually be enough for me. Jun 21, 2012 at 16:30
  • Well, like @stuffe and I have both said. There isn't any app at the moment that we can find that will do what you want. I understand its frustrating, but the best you can do is contact a developer like the guy who makes Reeder and make a suggestion and let him know that you are willing to pay a monthly subscription or something in order for this to happen. This is the best that I can suggest. The answer to the question is no because the reasons we have both stated, but it doesn't mean that it will be like that forever. That is why feature requests exist.
    – de_an777
    Jun 21, 2012 at 16:35

The tasks that apps can complete in the background are strictly limited to the following functions:

  • Audio - continue playing audio with requiring the app to be in the foreground
  • Location - provision of GPS data to background apps
  • VOIP - Maintaining a connection fo Voice over IP applications
  • Task Completion - Basically asking for a 10 minute (I'll stick with 10 during this answer, but it may be different) "pass" to stay running, ostensibly to complete a task like an upload or download, but often co-opted to just keep the app running for 10 minutes

Some included apps, but not 3rd party ones, have extended background capabilities for maintaining mail connnections, downloading into Newsstand etc, but these are not available to us mere mortals.

Strictly speaking it's true to say that apps can stay running for any purpose so long as they claim to be meeting the above limitations of use. Sometimes (I think the Sparrow email client tried this) an app can register as a VOIP service, even though it's not, thus enabling it to cheat the system and stay running at all time for some other purpose (in this case mail), but these apps are usually not successful in the review process, and even if they are are quickly pulled afterwards.

Basically, none of these capabilities will allow an RSS reader to regularly poll for updates whilst not being the active task. Most will implement the task completion service so any updates that come in within 10 minutes of leaving the app will continue to show etc, but after that you're out of luck.

Some apps (Instacast is one example) are quite clever about things, and at least combine the task completion capability with local notifications. When you leave the app, it will continue to download podcasts for 10 minutes. If they complete in this time, it will display a local notification, if not, they will register a 2nd local notification that will display saying downloads are paused to trigger when the 10 minutes is up, allowing you to quickly flip back in and out and grant it a further 10 minutes.

  • Why would we require the RSS app to run in the background? Surely an app server could poll the Google API and send the unread count as a push notification to the user's iPhone? Jun 21, 2012 at 16:19
  • 1
    That's very true, but the associated costs of running push notification infrastructure means that I doubt anyone has the resources to pay for this, given the likely extra cost that would need to be pushed down to the user as a regular fee. It would be nice though, but I won't hold my breath. Hopefully someone knows something I don't and has an answer though :)
    – stuffe
    Jun 21, 2012 at 16:24

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