iPad news readers are on a prowl, spicing up this historically mundane and dry task, and 2 Stanford Students are the latest making headlines. Pluse News Reader from Alphonso Labs is a news reader with a lovely user interface perfect for casual news readers out there who want to follow their favorite feeds. The large thumbnail based layout fills in every pixel of your beautiful iPad screen and the touch based controls for sliding and swiping joy. News fees have never looked so good, and reading has never been so fun.
On startup you’re given a screen that explains the apps features. There is no learning curve really here though, everything is self explanatory. Your feeds are represented by horizontal rows. You swipe left and right to flip through stories, shown by image thumbnails grabbed from the feed. Swipe up and down to see additional feeds. In both portrait and landscape modes, Pulse regenerates your feeds to fill the iPad.
Tap any story thumb to read the story in a pane that slides into view. The built in reading pane reformats the feed’s text and images with pleasing layout that remove all the clutter in what it calls “text” mode. Tap the Web button to see the article in its original format. You can adjust the font size here too which is great. Stories can be posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instapaper or Emailed. Landscape mode is better for seeing other stories and feeds while your read, and Portrait mode is good for reading one story/feed at a time. You can find new feeds using the app’s built in search feature. Type in any keyword, URL or source name, and just check off the feeds you’d like to follow in the app. Existing feeds have a blue tabbed corner and new ones have a yellow one for notification. You can manually refresh your feeds using the provided button.
Managing your feeds on the Pulse iPad app is where things get a little dodgy however. For starters; you you can only have 20 feeds. There is a Google Reader section where you can supposedly authenticate and sync the feeds from your Google Reader account. However again there is a breakage. The app fails to fetch your GR feeds, at least as of now, which is probably the biggest disappointment, given it is an included feature that is broken. Other gripes I have is the lack of customizable options. It would be nice to know/set the refresh time, sync read status with Google Reader, and possibly adjust the thumbnail sizes used.
If you’re a serious or heavy RSS user, this app isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a really joyous app that you can use on your iPad to follow a few of your top news websites, Pulse will do the job, and do it with style. Your fingers will love it. And hardcore users will adopt it too once the bugs are sorted out.
: The Pulse app has gone free.
Note: An iPhone version of Pulse is out now, called Pulse News Mini.
Here is a video demo of the Pulse News Reader app on the iPad
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