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November 20, 2016

Sync for Reddit: The gilded way of browsing Reddit (review)

by John_A

sync_for_reddit_review

I can’t quantify the amount of hours that I’ve wasted in my life thanks to Reddit. I’m always scrolling through /r/Android looking for interesting news, or through /r/iphone to see if I find new apps, /r/soccer to see everyone making fun of Manchester United, and so on. The possibilities are endless. Some people are reluctant to use Reddit, but it can be really useful and a place where I’ve met some good people.

After trying different Reddit clients, I just keep coming back to Sync for Reddit, an app with an impressive amount of customization, delightful interface, and a constant flow of updates. Not only it is one of the best apps to consume Reddit content, but one of the top apps in the Play Store.

Developer: Red Apps LTD
Price: Free (Pro version available)

Setup

sync_for_reddit_menuThe menu is home to your profile, messages, settings, and your subreddits.

This is one of those nice developers that have understood that not everyone wants to use an app only after logging in. In fact, you could use Sync for eternity without logging in. Sure, the experience won’t be as satisfying but it’s entirely possible.

If you want to connect your account to Sync, then you can tap on the hamburger menu button at the top left and then tap on Add Account. This will open a webview in which you can input your account details.

I’ve never really thought about how the permission system works in Reddit, but every single app that I’ve tried asks for this extremely long list of permissions. Fortunately, they all sound very logical and you can see how it is being used in the app.

After logging in successfully, you will be taken to the app’s main screen again, but this time, you’ll be logged in! All of your subreddits are automatically synchronized, and you might notice that the side menu now has a couple more options to play around with. We’ll analyze them all later on.

Overview

If you don’t know about Reddit, then the easy, concise way of describing it is “a social news aggregation, web content rating and discussion website” (courtesy of good ol’ Wikipedia). Users submit content into subreddits (think of them as a category where all the content follows the same subject), be it news links, GIFs, pictures, information, and everything in between, and then other users discuss about it. If used correctly, Reddit can be an extremely useful source of information and an easy way of learning about a specific topic without going to multiple sites.

Reddit’s web interface looks outdated in my opinion, but their mobile site is clearly more suitable for our times. However, Sync takes this to another level, presenting a beautiful, yet simple interface. It is inspired by the card-style interface introduced by Google some time ago, and it works wonderfully for every kind of content.

sync_for_reddit_dark_themeA dark theme is available too!

When you start the app, you’ll see the Front Page, which is an aggregation of all the subreddits you follow. Each card shows the title of the post, the user, the date, the subreddit it belongs to and the points/comments. Also, a big picture accompanies every post, be it either the post’s featured image, the picture uploaded by the user itself, or a preview of a video/GIF.

At the top, there’s a button to enter swipe mode, in which all news will appear full screen; you swipe to the right or left to change between them. Personally, I think it’s a really slow and inefficient way to consume news, but that’s why there are options: some might like them, some might not.

By default, Sync shows you the “Hot” variant of the home page, which aggregates posts that are — wait for it –hot right now. You can also change it to New, Rising, Top (and order it from hour, day, week and even the top post of all time), and Controversial (with the same time frames as Top).

At the top right, you will see an overflow button. This is the home of several very useful functions, such as searching for subreddits/posts, switching the type of view (compact, list, full height, and so on), recently viewed, hide read posts, and sync. There’s also a very peculiar option: Random. It takes you to a random subreddit. The developer has thought of everything.

You can also filter the kind of posts you want to see. Only fancying images? In the mood for some funny GIFs? You actually want to get stuff done and read some news? Maybe a combination of them? Your wish is Sync’s command.

Post view

Selecting a post isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Selecting the image part will always lead to the resource itself. Be it a news link, an image, a GIF, a video, or everything in between, Sync will always open the content.

For this, the app incorporates an in-app browser, a image viewer (and gallery when there’s more than one image), and a video/GIF viewer. This provides a seamless experience, keeping you in the app as long as possible instead of relying on webviews to see media. Other clients I’ve tried are very eager to take me to webviews in order to see images and videos. This is one of the strongest points of Sync for Reddit, and one that keeps me from using other clients.

sync_for_reddit_detail_viewThe detail view shows more about the content and the comments that they’ve generated.

Hitting the bottom part of a post will take you to the discussion itself. Since a comment can have multiple sub-comments, which in turn can have sub-comments by themselves, Sync uses colors to identify the level of each comment. This can be a confusing system, but Reddit itself uses it, so changing it would be unpopular among users. Fortunately, you can collapse different levels by long-pressing a comment. Commenting and replying can be done in a breeze too.

Profile, Messaging and Subreddits

sync_for_reddit_profileYour profile shows your badges, karma, and the comments you’ve made.

The overflow menu has so many things to choose from. It even changes its options depending on if you’re signed in or not. First, this is where you sync the app with your reddit account, in order to get your subreddits, messages and favorites.

The Profile menu entry lets you check out different stuff regarding your activity at Reddit, such as the comments you’ve made, posts you’ve upvoted, and links you’ve marked as favorite. Also, you can access the messages you’ve sent and received through the Messaging tab. Also, this is the place you can check your comments and posts replies. The good think about Sync is that everything is where you would expect it to be. There’s no overly complicated flows or digging through different screens.

Finally, the list of all the subreddits you follow will be here. If you follow a lot of subreddits, this can get quite long, and it’s probably the least intuitive part of the whole application. There’s also a list with multireddits (a group of subreddits joined together) at the bottom. This is another case in which having a long list of subreddits could hamper usability of these multireddits.

Options

So. Many. Options. Sync is probably one of the most customizable apps in the Play Store. There’s so many you can change that if I talked about everything, this review would look like a research paper.

Settings are divided into four categories: Appearance, Content, General and Other. All of them are pretty self-explanatory, but I will mention the most important aspects of each one.

Appearance deals with the way the app looks. Here you can change stuff like themes (light or dark), font size, animations, and customization for every view type. This last item is amazingly powerful: not only you can choose between different views to consume the app, but you can change every aspect of each view. Pretty cool stuff.

sync_for_reddit_optionsSync offers a mind-blowing amount of options to choose from.

The content category controls how you consume Reddit content. You can change the default post sort (Hot, Top, Controversial, etc.), different options for handling the comments view, notifications for messages, image/video viewer, and link handling.

General deals with more broad options, such as the data usage (through preloading of full images, thumbnails and GIFs), content filtering (NSFW posts, domain filtering, keyword filtering, and such), and backup of your current configuration. The Other category groups stuff like app version, licenses, privacy policy and similar.

As we can see, as is always a constant with Sync, everything is exactly where you expect it to be. The app has powerful options and customization, but it never strays away from dealing with a lot of information and features in a no-nonsense way.

Conclusion

For years, Sync for Reddit has been one of the most important Reddit clients in the Play Store. It’s easy to see why: a plethora of features, immensely powerful customization options, and pleasant interface are only a few of the benefits that the app presents. There’s also a Pro version if you don’t want to deal with ads, and want to support the constant updates of this amazing client. Give it a go and I’m sure it won’t disappoint you.

Download Sync for Reddit from the Google Play Store.

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