The developer behind gReader has broken his four-year silence regarding both the app's lack of updates, recent customer complaints regarding intrusive advertisements, and the move to a subscription model. We had the chance to talk to the developer about these changes and, in short, they considered it the only way to continue developing the app. However, although the old Pro version isn't available on the Play Store anymore, customers can still download it from the project's GitHub, and prior Pro owners will get a one-year subscription under the new model.

Many of our readers likely remember gReader — if not from last week's coverage of customer complaints, then from its popularity as an RSS reader in the wake of Google Reader's death. Originally, gReader had both a free and a $5 "Pro" version that disabled advertisements, but the app stopped getting updates back in 2016. Two years later, it even disappeared from the Play Store entirely for a while. Since then, it's languished, with a small but loyal RSS-reading fanbase. However, customer complaints of intrusive ads, paired with the app's recent updates, have brought it back on our radar, and the developer behind gReader has provided us with some important context for what is happening.

The latest version of gReader.

To start, the reason behind the app's disappearance in 2018 has been confirmed: Due to the gap in updates, the app didn't follow GDPR compliance or more recent privacy policy changes and did not target the correct API levels, leading to Google giving both the free and Pro versions the boot. Though the free version has since returned, the Pro version remains gone, and we're told that's an intentional decision on the developer's part.

Part of the reason the app is returning to a state of active development is because it is switching to a recurring subscription model, which can finance the work going forward. While you can use the app for free in ad-supported mode, gReader Premium runs $1 a month or $8.50 a year.

The developer acknowledges to us that this might upset some long-time users, but it's doing two things to help reduce that ire: The old Pro version will remain downloadable via the app's GitHub page (where it even received an update four days ago), and former Pro users can contact the developer at their convenience to secure a one-year subscription to the new version of the app via a promo code. The developer acknowledges that this is only a small reparation, and long-time users may still be upset, but it's better than nothing.

Although customers claim the update is responsible for intrusive ads, the developer claims nothing should have changed and is looking into it. 

As for the recent ad complaints, we're told that the app should be serving the same Admob ads it always has, though the banner advertisement dimensions were adjusted to be slightly taller. If the ads are becoming more obtrusive, the developer blames Admob, and they are currently collecting feedback to determine a course of action.

The developer has told us they are also soliciting feedback for both improvements and feature requests, and customers are encouraged to provide it via the project's GitHub. Among the list of possibilities include more news sources, potentially bringing over features from the developer's other News+ app. General bug fixes and performance improvements are also planned.

If you were among the many gReader Pro users left out in the cold when the app was removed from the Play Store, this switch to a subscription model might have you irked, but we're told it's the only way the developer can make it financially viable to continue development. While it's a bummer, this is hardly the first app to move from a one-time purchase to a subscription model. It's up to you if the functionality is worth it, and Pro users have a year of premium to try as they make their decision. If the app doesn't make the cut, you can always roll back to the older Pro version on GitHub.