Earlier today Microsoft updated several of their built in Windows 8 Apps including Travel, Maps, News, Sports and Finance.
Now these apps get updated fairly regularly but this mornings updates to the Bing News app are interesting because it has added some features that could position it as a replacement for those who used Google Reader to keep up with their favorite websites.
The Bing News App in Windows 8 now has the ability to add any sites RSS feed as a source and allow offline reading of content. This will not be a viable solution for heavy duty Google Reader users but will let someone handle quite a few feeds. The big negatives on this are no OPML import and each site must be manually added to the app.
So if you want to put these features to use here is how you do that.
After opening the Bing News App from your Start Screen pivot to the Sources list which is right after the Top Stories list.
If you tap/click on the small pencil on the top right it will allow you to easily remove any sources you do not want to appear in the sources list. You can either tap/click on Sources> or on the plus sign at the end of the currently selected sources to go to the set up screen.
On this next screen you need to enter the URL for your new sources RSS feed and tap/click the Search icon.
Once it is validated just tap/click the small plus sign next to the source to add it to your app source feeds.
Just tap/click the back arrow on the top left to return to your list of sources.
If you tap on the source you just entered you will get a display of the recent stories from that site.
You can either read this feed by selecting it each time you enter the app or you can create a shortcut on your Start Screen to open it directly each time.
To create that shortcut, and this works for any source, either swipe down or right click with your mouse to bring up the App Bar and select Pin to Start on the bottom of the screen.
A shortcut box will pop up and you can name it whatever you want then tap/click Pin to Start to add it to the Start Screen.
It will appear all the way over to the right side of your Start Screen and then you can place it anywhere you want.
The last step is to allow offline reading of your sources by bringing up the Charms Bar and selecting Settings then Options and make sure Read Articles Offline option is turned on.
In order for the Bing News App to fully replace Google Reader for anyone with more than a few sites to keep an eye on it will need some more features such as OPML import and maybe some one touch sharing options instead of having to use the Charms Bar for each share. Again, that works for someone with a handful of sites but a power user/sharer will need more.
However, I think it is a great option they have given to many by adding these features to the app. What do you think of these changes?