HTC One: How to master BlinkFeed

August 21, 2013
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The HTC One is an amazing phone; it has a sexy body, shows stunning visuals on an eye- popping display, and is jampacked with a lot of features — one of which is HTC’s BlinkFeed.

What is BlinkFeed and how can you use it to its full potential? In this article, discover how to master BlinkFeed. You’ll find several tips and tricks on using BlinkFeed, including hiding it from your phone’s homescreen. (You can also skip to our video guide at the end of this article.)

What is BlinkFeed?

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BlinkFeed is an HTC exclusive feature that packs all your favorite content on your homescreen. Very simply, it brings together your online feeds into one place — your homescreen. Feeds include those from BlinkFeed-supported sites, selected categories of feeds, posts from other apps, and feeds from your social network accounts. If you’re familiar with the Flipboard app, you’ll find that BlinkFeed has similar functions, except that BlinkFeed is deeply integrated to the latest version of HTC Sense and has limited features compared to Flipboard.

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Your feeds are displayed right on your homescreen, so you won’t need to navigate around your phone or launch an app just to get your daily dose of new content from your favorite subscriptions. As a homescreen, BlinkFeed also shows the time, date, your location, temperature, and weather information.

Customizing BlinkFeed

To specify what type of feeds to display on your BlinkFeed homescreen, go to the topmost feed or tap the Home capacitive button to return to the topmost feed. Swipe slightly downward, just enough to reveal a row of customization buttons. Don’t swipe downwards too far because that will cause a forced refresh.

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From the row of buttons, tap the Options button represented by the three square dots. Select Topics and Services from the menu.

From here, you can customize your BlinkFeed content. You will find three tabs: Services & Apps, Feature Headlines, and Categories. Just swipe left or right to switch tabs.

Service & Apps tab

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Under the Services & Apps tab, you can select which apps and social networking apps can display content on BlinkFeed. You can select Calendar, HTC Share, Kid Mode, and the TV apps. You can also login to your Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts and view your social network updates on BlinkFeed.

Featured Headlines tab

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The Featured Headlines tab shows a list of supported media sources. The list varies according to the default country that you set for BlinkFeed.

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You can set a country by opening the BlinkFeed menu, selecting Settings, tapping Local content, and then selecting a country from the list. Afterwards, mark those sources that you want to appear on BlinkFeed. Sadly, you can neither remove nor add your own custom media sources.

Categories tab

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Besides displaying headlines from featured media sources, BlinkFeed can also display headlines according to general categories that you select from the Categories tab. The categories vary according to your default country. For example, the Automobiles category is enabled when USA is the default country, but it’s unavailable in the U.K.

Here are some common categories on BlinkFeed:

  • Trending Topics
  • Automobiles
  • Business
  • Design
  • Entertainment
  • Environment
  • Gaming
  • Lifestyle
  • Music
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Technology & Science
  • Travel
  • World

After customizing your BlinkFeed content, go back to the main page to start browsing your feeds.

Browsing BlinkFeed

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To browse your feeds on BlinkFeed, just scroll up and down and tap on a feed title to open the post. On any post’s page, you can:

  • Swipe left or right to view the next or previous post.
  • Tap the source name on top to view a list of existing feeds from the same source.
  • Tap the 3-dot icon and select Font size to scale font size.
  • Tap Share at the bottom of the screen to share the current post.

Managing BlinkFeed

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With content and updates coming from many sources, you might have a hard time browsing for specific content on BlinkFeed. Fortunately, you can clean up your feeds and hasten the search.

Highlights

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One way to narrow your feed down to just those posts that you want to highlight at that particular moment is to select media sources from the Customize Highlights page.

  1. Show the customization menu by swiping the feed list downwards slightly.
  2. Then, tap on the dropdown list at the upper-left part (below the time).
  3. Beside Highlights, tap the Options (three-dot) button to open the Customize Highlights page.
  4. From there, uncheck those media sources whose posts you don’t want to show up on the BlinkFeed list.

Another trick is to just tap a source name from the Highlights list to quickly filter out all other posts except those from the selected source only.

Searching

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If you’re looking for a specific post, you can rummage through your feed with the Search function. Just type the keyword or phrase that you’re looking for, and BlinkFeed will dynamically compose a list of posts containing the search string.

Status updates

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Aside from being updated about the latest buzz and trends, BlinkFeed also lets you quickly post status updates to your registered social accounts. Just tap the pencil button on the top row, select a social site, and type in your status update.

Refreshing feeds

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Want to browse new feeds? Refresh your BlinkFeed. To manually refresh your feeds, go to the topmost page on BlinkFeed and swipe down until you see the “Release to refresh” label on top. Let go and BlinkFeed will refresh your feeds. You will need an active Internet connection to refresh your feed list.

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By default, BlinkFeed will automatically update your feeds when your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network. However, you can also update via both Wi-Fi and your mobile data network. To enable this option, open the BlinkFeed menu, select Settings, select Auto Refresh, and choose “Using Mobile Data or Wi-Fi”. Take note that choosing this option may cause you to incur extra charges from your carrier.

Hiding BlinkFeed

Not everyone is very happy with BlinkFeed. Some users don’t seem to approve of an all-in-one feeds hub on their phone’s homescreen. Whether you like it or not, BlinkFeed is integrated with HTC Sense, so you can’t easily remove it from your homescreen.

The good thing, though, is that you can minimize its presence by changing the main homescreen. Or, for a more drastic solution, you can completely hide BlinkFeed from view by using a third-party launcher or flash a custom ROM on your phone.

Changing the main homescreen

Be default, the BlinkFeed page is set as your main homescreen. So, every time you tap the Home button, you return to BlinkFeed. You can override this default behavior by choosing another main homescreen.

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To set another homescreen as your main homescreen, you can do so, as follows:

  1. Open the Menu (three-dot button) in BlinkFeed and select Customize Home Screen.
  2. From there, you will see thumbnail previews of your homescreens.
  3. Hold down on the homescreen that you want to use. A row of text will appear.
  4. Drag the homescreen thumbnail to “Set as Home” to select the homescreen as your default main screen. You’ll see see the Home icon appear on the chosen thumbnail.

If you select another homescreen as your main homescreen, tapping the Home button will no longer take you to the topmost post in BlinkFeed. Instead, it will take you to the homescreen designated as your main homescreen.

Third-party launchers or custom ROMs

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If you’re still bothered by the presence of BlinkFeed on your phone’s homescreen, you can use third-party launchers to completely hide BlinkFeed from view.

There are a lot of launchers on the Google Play Store, ranging from simple stock Android launchers, to bizarre and eye-popping 3D launchers.

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For a more drastic, advanced, and hardcore solution, you can flash a custom ROM on your phone. Doing this not only removes BlinkFeed and HTC Sense but also altogether revamps your Android experience.

Video guide

Watch our YouTube video guide on how to master BlinkFeed:

Conclusion

The HTC One’s BlinkFeed app is a cool feature that snugly packs all your favorite content into one page. It is one of the big reasons that many users love their HTC One, although, arguably, it’s also one of the big reasons that some users shy away from the HTC One.

While BlinkFeed is very easy to master, the app’s inability to accommodate custom media sources frequently cause me to believe that other similarly natured apps actually work better and has better flexibility. Though, on the other hand, it’s this lack of flexibility that makes BlinkFeed easy to master and easy to use.

Lastly, while BlinkFeed may seem pervasive at first, you can actually dismiss it from view by setting a different main homescreen or by using a custom launcher — either of which doesn’t remove the app from your system. For the latter, you can take the geeky route: flash a custom ROM.

What do you think of BlinkFeed? Do you use it at all? Or, do you prefer a different third-party app instead, and if so, what app? Share your BlinkFeed experiences with us by sounding off in the comments.

Now read: 5 best HTC One Apps

(with contributions from Elmer Montejo)

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