HTC's BlinkFeed used to be one of those apps we disabled and left to collect dust. But with its latest update, it's no longer a total waste of Home screen space.
Now, you can use it as your all-you-can-eat social networking and news aggregator. In Sense 6 (on the new HTC One and coming to other phones soon), HTC finally figured out how to make BlinkFeed valuable, but you'll have to set it up the right way to really reap the benefits. Use it to quickly see what's new on Instagram, Facebook, and a multitude of others while also staying on top of the latest news and updates from your favorite sites and Twitter feeds. Here's how to get started.
Keep it on the Home screen
By default, BlinkFeed is pinned on the farthest left Home screen in Sense 6. Swipe right to see BlinkFeed, then swipe over once more to bring out the menu that lets you search, add content, and adjust settings. From here, you can tap Highlights to get a quick listing of the latest updates, or select from any of your custom topics and social feeds to view their content.
When you want to add content, all you have to do is search for it. Each search will return a listing of results related to your query; if there's an RSS feed associated with that term, BlinkFeed will offer you the opportunity to subscribe to it. You can also add Twitter feeds and YouTube channels, and the app will also show links and accounts related to your search term. Also, to ensure that BlinkFeed will retrieve the information you want, you can preview the subscription page before you commit to it.
Don't really care to see where your friends are checking in? You can also choose which of the topics BlinkFeed Highlights. Just uncheck what you don't want taking up room in the Highlights topics in the settings.
If you end up getting attached to BlinkFeed, you can set it as your default Home screen from the Android settings menu (go to Personalize then Manage home screen pages). As an added bonus (and to entice you to continue to use it), it'll also display the time and weather at the very top.
Use it to check up on friends
If you don't want to open up a bunch of individual apps to check what your friends are doing on social networks, you can use BlinkFeed as a collective aggregator to browse what they're posting. In the Settings menu, under Services & Apps, you can choose to connect Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and FitBit, as well as any other related applications that have BlinkFeed integration built in. Since HTC just recently opened up the BlinkFeed API, you should expect more app integration to arrive in the coming months.
Once connected, BlinkFeed will begin jumbling in those status updates with the rest of your news content. You can also select any of the individual social networks you want to check up on from the navigational menu. As a bonus, you can comment and "like" posts directly from within BlinkFeed without having to launch into an app, as well as post status messages to your social networks.
Sync content for offline reading
You don't always have to be connected to a network to check BlinkFeed. You can easily enable Offline news reading from the Settings panel. Select Text only if you only want BlinkFeed to do a barebones download, or Full article to sync all text and images in every refresh. Both of these modes will result in data usage if you do it over the network, but you can set BlinkFeed to only refresh automatically over Wi-Fi.
Pull in your read-it-later stuff, too
Are you the type to collect stuff to read later in apps like Pocket or Evernote? If you have read-it-later apps like these installed, you can add them to Blinkfeed, too. They don't really integrated that well into the regular BlinkFeed "stream", but you can swipe over to the menu and quickly switch to one of these services instead of the usual Highlights view.
The new BlinkFeed in Sense 6 is a far more streamlined, customizable, and elegant solution than in the past. If you've always disabled it before, you should give the new one a shot before disabling it.