With the latest update you have finally the option to synchronize the favorites with all your devices through tickerCloud. Add favorites while you're on the way with your smartphone and read them later at home with your tablet or PC. And you will not lose your favorites when you have to reinstall tickers or change your device. If you haven't created a tickerCloud account yet, maybe you should think about it now. You get a lot of benefits from it.

You can now set a custom notification sound on iOS and Android. Actually, as some other features too, this was requested by a user a long time ago and now it's finally available. I hope it was worth the waiting and you enjoy it, Jared. And all the others like it - hopefully - too.

Nearly one year has passed since the release of tickers (or tickerfeed for the older readers), and it was really a lot of fun and a great experience. When I compare the current version with the first release a lot has changed: The UI, the name, tickerCloud, trending messages and many more features. But the core idea is still the same: A simple and fast notification service.

Let's talk about some numbers: Actually more than 10000 people downloaded and tried tickers and it has already more than 2000 daily users. While I'm disappointed in the number of downloads, I'm really pleased with the fact that a lot of people are using it daily and that tickers is already part of their "life". And with the amount of positive feedback that I receive, I think I'm on the right track with the development of tickers.

Now it's up to me to put all my available time into marketing tickers better. If I had a wish, I would like to multiple the downloads and daily users with ten by the end of next year.

Anyway, thanks everyone for using tickers and all the feedback and feature requests.

How tickers works…

Marko B. Ludolph
… or why tickers is not a RSS/feed/news reader.

Well, first of all, tickers is a free, anonymous and generic notification app. If you don‘t know what tickers is: it’s a notification app. Yes, a notification app. Just in case you missed it: tickers is a notification app. Believe it or not, tickers is a notification app. And, finally, in case I didn‘t mention it before: tickers is a notification app.

This shouldn‘t sound like a rant from a grumpy old man. People often ask me about the difference between tickers and feed reader xyz or why I think it‘s better. Or why they just can‘t add their RSS feed without creating a ticker. I guess you know what I usually answer (but in a nicer way), if you read the previous paragraph carefully. To understand why tickers is not an RSS/feed/news reader, let me explain how it works.

A notification app


First of all, what is the point of a notification app? You all use notification apps everyday, even without knowing it. Your sports app informs you instantly when your favorite team scores. The email app informs you in real time about new mails. A WhatsApp message arrives in the moment the other person sends it. And the app of your favorite news site notifies you about new articles. You see, the point of a notification app is to deliver information in real time to you, that‘s the purpose of it. You don‘t have to be active to get the information, the information gets to you.

And tickers (the name comes from ticker or liveticker) is a free, anonymous and generic notification app (Think of it as a huge WhatsApp group, which everybody can join anonymously and where only you can write messages.). It‘s not coupled to one news site or to one form of sport. It‘s up to you, what information you want to receive (or deliver) with it in real time: sports results, news, appointments or whatever you want. Therefore, you don‘t need ten apps from different news sites on your smartphone, you only need to subscribe the right tickers and channels (or if a ticker is not available, just build it).

How notifications work


Let‘s get technical. I don‘t want to bore you with too much details, but give you a basic overview (and I simplify some things). Here‘s a simple rundown how it works: When you start the app, it requests from the operating system the permission to send you push notifications (this is the point where the permission dialogue opens on iOS). The result is a unique token, which can be used to send your device push notifications. This token is sent to a server and stored in a database for future use. Every OS has different tokens and different push services for sending the push notification to your device. On iOS it‘s called Apple Push Notification Service (APNS), on Android Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) and on Windows it‘s the Windows Notification Service (WNS). Finally, to send a push notification to a device all you have to do is query the token from the database for this device, assemble the request with the token, connect to the correct push service and deliver the request. And if everything is correct, the push notifications shows up on the device. The tickers server do this all the time. Millions of push notifications were already delivered and the number is growing every day.

You may ask how our servers know to which devices they should deliver message? Every time you subscribe a channel in the app, you send a request with this data (the ticker and channel) to our servers. They analyze it and store the information in the database, beneath the push notification tokens. Now, when a message is posted to a channel (via App, API or Connector), the servers query all the devices and their push notification tokens from the database that subscribed this channel. And, as mentioned above, assemble for every device the request and send it to the correct push service.


One note: You can use tickers without push notifications at all. In this case, you don‘t get any notifications and everything mentioned above is obsolete, but all the messages still appear in your personal liveticker, if you open the app. How your liveticker works is more complicated and not part of this article. Maybe, I‘ll write about it later.

Connectors, RSS feeds and the API


We know how messages from a channel are delivered to your device. Now let’s see how the messages are sent to a channel. Currently, there are three ways to send messages to a channel. The most simple way is by using the app. If you ever created a ticker in the app, you have probably seen the option. If you’re a developer you can use the API to automate message sending e.g. from your own servers. The final option is by setting up a Connector in the app. Tickers offers different Connectors, e.g. for RSS feeds, YouTube channels or Instagram.

From an internal point of view, a Connector is a separate program/process that is not part of the tickers core infrastructure (actually, the Connectors run on different servers in another country), processes the data it was build for and sends the result via API to the tickers server. And as it uses the API to deliver the messages, you could, in theory, build your own Connector with some programming skills.

Let’s have a deeper look at the RSS Connector. As the name says it processes all the RSS feeds that were specified in the Connector screen in the app. This means it downloads periodically all the available RSS feeds, processes them and checks for new items (currently this is more than 10 GB of data a day). And if it found a new item in a feed, it sends it back to the tickers server. And all the other Connectors work basically the same.

With this knowledge, we can finally rebuild the whole message chain. If a Connector has a new item available, it create the message with all the needed metadata (the ticker and channel) and sends it via API to the tickers server. The servers read the message and metadata, query the database for the subscribed devices and their push tokens for the target channel and send the requests to the correct push services.


tickers is not a RSS/feed/news reader


As you can see, the option to add RSS feeds is not part of the tickers core infrastructure, it’s a bonus for easily integrating websites into tickers. Tickers works perfectly, even without RSS feeds by sending messages via app or API, while feed readers would basically be useless.

If you use a RSS Connector, you gain a lot of advantages compared to common feed readers: In tickers, RSS feeds are processed on our servers and new items are sent to you as notification and to your personal liveticker. Therefore, tickers is blazing fast, lowers the data usage a lot, increases battery lifetime and you get the information in realtime on your smartphone.

Feed readers, on the other hand, download all the feeds locally, when you start them (some hide this by doing this in the background, even when the app is not running). This takes time, power and bandwidth to crawl all the feeds.

Anyway, tickers is for everyman. It is simple to use and made for people that don’t want to mess around with rss feeds or anything like that. And if you want you can use it like a feed reader with all the benefits.
Finally, after a long time, the new tickers version is available for iOS, Android and Windows. As I already mentioned in the previous news, one of the biggest change is the new name. Tickerfeed is gone and is replaced by tickers. This change also includes the new logo and the reworked homepage.

tickerCloud


One of the most requested feature in the past was the option to synchronize your subscriptions across all your devices. Well, I listened to your feedback and now the solution is available: tickerCloud. If you want to use this feature, you need to create a tickers account first and use this account on all your devices, where you want the synchronisation. Subscriptions of channels or push notifications are synchronized with all your connected devices (a small cloud appears in the ticker overview). But you can decide for every subscription if you want to synchronize it with all your devices or only on the current device.


Improved Notifications


The notifications on Windows and iOS received an update too. The Windows toast notifications and live tiles will show the logo of the ticker. And the iOS version uses the new iOS 10 notifications (due some error in the iOS version, the ticker logos are disabled for this version).


New Windows Design


The Windows version of tickers got a new and reworked design, while the design on iOS and Android received only minor changes. During the evolution of Windows Phone 7 to Windows 10 (Mobile) and their UWP apps, Microsoft tried a lot of different ideas for their app designs. And tickers still had some design elements from the past. That's why it didn't feel like a modern UWP app.

With Windows 10 ,it seems that the hamburger menu is the new standard and tickers is now using this hamburger menu.


Password Reset


If you lost the password or the username for your tickers account in the past, you had a problem as there was no way to reset it. Now you can add an email to your account and use it to reset your password. If you already have an account, do not forget to add your email.
Goodbye tickerfeed! We had a great time together, but now it's time to move on.

I really liked the name tickerfeed, but it had one big drawback: the feed in it's name. A lot of people thought that tickerfeed was a RSS/News/Feed-Reader, but it was not the case.

When you read through some of the old articles about tickerfeed you will soon notice that it was often marked as a news reader, but I don't want this comparison anymore. Clearly, you can use it as a news reader only. I have no problem with that, but it's more than just a news reader.

When I started the development of tickerfeed, I had this idea in my mind to build a simple, anonymous and easy unidirectional notification service. There's something you're interested in? Maybe news, a small blog, a YouTube channel, a live ticker of your local soccer team, the latest appointments of your local hiking group, the daily menu of your canteen? No problem: Just subscribe it and you will always get the latest info as push notification. That's why I developed tickerfeed: always be up-to-date.

Tickerfeed has a lot of potential (you could, for example, use the API to translate a public calendar into push notifications that everyone can easily subscribe to in tickerfeed, instead of messing and sending around calendar URLs or whatever). But as tickerfeed is still seen as a news reader, I decided to rename it to tickers.

With the new name I hope that the people understand that tickers is about realtime notifications. Everything is a live ticker: a YouTube channel, a news website or whatever you want.
Maybe you have ideas that I am currently not thinking about. Go ahead and use the different Connectors to build your own ticker (your own blog or a fan ticker) or use the API and create something completely new!

Mark As Read

Marko B. Ludolph
As with most of the cool features in tickers, this one was also feedback from a user. The user wanted to have simple way to distinguish between new and old messages. I usually scroll to the top, therefore I know that I read everything below, but every user is different.

Now when you enable the "Mark As Read" mode, you can mark a single message or all messages as read. This changes the background color of the selected messages and helps you to distinguish between new and old messages.

If you have a sane and useful feature request, too (not the ones that probably make a completely different app out of tickers) don’t be shy and contact me.

Do not Disturb

Marko B. Ludolph
I got some interesting feedback from one person recently. He was complaining that he was forced to uninstall tickers. He was currently doing a presentation and the push notifications were constantly disturbing his presentation.

This is one of the cases where it’s awesome to be a software developer. I was thinking about adding a "Do not Disturb" mode, but discarded it for a simple reason: it's the job of the OS to take care of this. But, as you can see, I was wrong. There is a need for this feature even on the app level.

As a consequence, tickers now has a “Do not Disturb” mode. When you activate it, you will not receive push notifications for the next eight hours or until you manually disable it again. The eight hour limit is just a comfort feature in case that you forget that you enabled the "Do Not Disturb" mode.

If you have a problem with tickers or want to see a feature that you think is missing, feel free to contact me.

After I released the latest version I received a lot of positive feedback and feature requests from the users. The most often mentioned feature request was the support for a dark theme/design, and as I take your feature request seriously, I will add the support in the next version.

As I had to touch a lot of the source code to enable the support for the dark theme, I decided to extend it. Therefore I didn't only add a dark theme, I also added the option to fully customize the colors of the design.

Integrated Browser

Marko B. Ludolph
Usually when you open an external link the app switches to the default browser, which shows the website. This feels awkward on mobile devices, especially as you have to navigate back to tickers when you're done with reading.

In the past I had already added the option to use an experimental integrated browser in tickers. This does not switch to the default browser. Instead, the website is shown in tickers. Now, after testing this feature for some time and getting good feedback, it will be the default for all new installations on iOS, Android and Windows 10 Mobile. On Windows 10 for PC, tickers will still open the default browser.

If you prefer the old behaviour, you can easily disable the integrated browser in the options menu.

New Design

Marko B. Ludolph
During the development of tickers, I didn’t put that much thought into its design. Actually, in my naive thinking, my credo was: As long as it’s working, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Well, I was wrong. Usually, the people think the other way: It doesn’t have to work, as long as it’s pretty.

Anyway, tickers didn’t really look good. It was a mixture of different icon sets that I googled and nothing really fit together. Everything was packed together to use every pixel of the screen.

Luckily, after googling around for new icons, I found Eleonors website. I contacted her simply asking for some help with icons, but she actually took some screenshots of tickers and made a complete redesign of the app. She really redesigned everything from the scratch. The icons, the look and feel, the font, the colors. It was amazing and it totally blew my mind when I got her first mail response with all the new designs without even asking.

I know I already thanked her 1,000 times, but I want to do it here again: Thank you, Eleanor.

Have a look at this huge difference. The left design is made by a blind monkey (sometimes called "programmers' art"), and on the right is Eleonor's awesome design.

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