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February 20, 2015

Meet the developer behind the award-winning Nextgen Reader

We wrote about Nextgen Reader and told you about some of the Windows Phone news apps that deliver the most relevant news to you. Now, let’s meet Gaurav Kalra, the man behind the award-winning Windows Phone app.

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Nextgen Reader was profiled during the 2012 March Apps Madness contest. It won that award and ever since, it has been winning our hearts as well.

The developer of the app, Gaurav Kalra, can’t stop talking about his love for Xbox and the Lumia 1520. He’s swayed by the Microsoft HoloLens and dreams of attending the Microsoft Build Developer Conference.

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When not reading about computers and technology, the 27-year old engineer likes to read, play tennis and cricket and catch all the Formula One action on the telly.

We recently caught up with Gaurav to learn about his app-development experience.

Why did you become a developer?   

I’ve been using computers since I was a teenager and the love has grown.  I like to try different technologies and while I was in school, I had installed every Linux distribution on my system. I used to try hacking and troubleshooting issues.

I started as a software engineer but later decided to leave my day job to start Next Matters in 2012 to build software for Windows and Cloud.

Why did you decide to make an app that aggregates news? Why the name “Nextgen Reader”?

I developed Nextgen Reader for myself! Earlier, I used Google Reader a lot but when the Windows Phone came, I decided to build this for phones and later for Windows 8. I think Windows Phone has the best home-screen experience, especially the live tiles.

I like the word “next” a lot, thus it’s called Nextgen Reader. No one really knows what’s next, you see.

How is it different from other news apps? Aren’t you afraid of competition from established players and names like MSN News, Flipboard etc.?

Nextgen Reader provides a simple, fast and clean user experience. It’s more productive than other news apps and yet very powerful and highly configurable. In addition, it hooks up with Feedly so you can enjoy news across platforms or devices and synchronize it via Nextgen Reader for the best experience on Windows.

There is no competition at all. I do like MSN News and Flipboard, but they’re fundamentally different from Nextgen Reader. We focus on a more productive experience, just like an email inbox. You get unread news from your favorite feeds every single day.

Why is your app a paid app? Do you think people will pay to read news?

I always believe that ads compromise the experience. Thus, we support trials with no limitations or ads. My app has great success and it has always remained one of the top paid apps in news + weather category since its launch. I wish to thank the great fans and community of Windows Phone. We have 4.5+ rating with thousands of reviews worldwide.

What did you learn from creating the app?

Building a product from scratch is a great experience. I think everyone should try it and one does not necessarily have to quit a job. Making an app requires more than just being a developer; it’s more like being an artist at work.

How long did it take to create Nextgen Reader?

I started working part-time on the Windows Phone app and it took around four to five months. Since phones running Windows Phone 7 were not  released in India during the year 2010, I did not have the hardware during my initial development. However, the PC version took around three months. Ever since, I’ve been regularly updating apps as well integrating new features with every major platform update.

What future improvements do you plan to bring to your app and what are you working on next? 

I have built a product for the community and for my personal use. I am glad to have many passionate users, so expect many improvements in the year 2015.  I plan to continue building software for Windows and Cloud. I would also like to work or start an open source project.

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Why develop apps for Windows Phone? 

I am a fan of Windows Phone. I love the modern design and it’s the main reason I decided to develop for WP.

What do you think of Windows as a platform for developing apps?   

I believe there’s an excellent opportunity for developers with Windows 10. Personally, I love the idea of universal apps across Phone, PC and Tablet. I can’t wait for it to happen.

What’s the most difficult part of app development?

The most difficult bit is designing the core experience as it can become simple or become the most challenging part of developing an app.

What’s the most fun part of app development?

It is the bit about interacting on social media. I had no idea, initially, when I began working on the app, that there will be so many users across the world who will love Nextgen Reader. I thank everyone for their support.

Do you have any advice for fellow developers?   

Just follow Channel 9 to learn new stuff. I’m a fan of Anders Hejlsberg and Erik Meijer. I love watching their videos about programming languages. Also for students, there is the DVLUP program that lets you earn cool rewards. I won a Lumia 1520 through DVLUP!

Thanks a lot for speaking to us, Gaurav!

Check Nextgen Reader and never miss any news.