There are a fair few news reader apps available for iOS and Android already, and no shortage of quality either. A previous cross-platform favourite was Feedly, but recently my most used app has been Pulse. Much like Feedly, Pulse provides a slick, attractive interface from which to read Google Reader and a huge variety of news sites and blogs. Best of all it’s available for both iPhone and iPad on iOS and Android smartphones too.
Your New Favourite Reader
Reading on small mobile devices can at times be a drag, especially when it comes to the web. Unlike tablets which are great for complex magazine layouts or broad-sheet style news presentation, smartphones and their smaller screens have to be carefully catered for. Safari’s Reader view which was added in iOS5 formats the page beautifully but isn’t always available, and still relies on webpages for content.
This is where your news reader app comes in. It should provide perfect page formatting, an intuitive and customizable interface, lots of content and stupidly simple sharing. This is what Pulse does, and it does it well.
The UI is intuitive, with sources added to vertical columns which you can name. Each source appears as a horizontally scrolling timeline and once a story has been read its entry on the timeline is dimmed. There are never more than three sources on-screen at once, which doesn’t overwhelm the reader or make the screen feel too busy.
While reading an article swiping right-to-left displays the next article (vice versa) and there are a variety of sharing options in the bottom right of the screen. Nothing gets in the way of the reading experience and thumb-proof navigation – even URLs open within Pulse, which is far less frustrating than Safari stealing focus (at least on iOS).
Pulse also offers a registration which will appeal to users with multiple devices as it’s a handy way of keeping everything in sync. Registration also allows you to save stories to read later, either using the mobile app or via this handy bookmarklet when browsing the web from your computer. You can even send these saved stories to other services, including Instapaper and Evernote. Syncing works both ways, so if you “star” something when you’re out it will be waiting on your Pulse.me profile next time you sit down at your desk.
In addition to the usual news and blogs, Pulse also comfortably chews through other content including stories shared by your Facebook friends, YouTube’s current popular videos (without opening the terrible iPhone YouTube app), Reddit, Flickr, Readability and more.
Adding this content is as simple as hitting the cog icon at the top left, which allows you to add or remove services, re-order sources and rename columns. Hitting the “+” icon at the bottom of each column displays the catalog, which is split by subject matter. With all this good-to-go content it’s really very easy to create a personalised digital edition in very little time at all.
If you’re a fan of Google Reader for your news reading then Pulse allows you to log in, peruse your subscriptions and add them as separate news sources (meaning you can put each one wherever you like, ordered however you like). Comparatively, Google Reader on a smartphone doesn’t provide a bad reading experience, but remains a webpage and just can’t beat the presentation or ease of use that Pulse provides (screenshot below).
If a particular website is not listed then hitting the magnifying glass in the top left allows you to search the web for a feed. One tip from trying to find a few sites – if you’re not having any luck try the bulk of the URL – I was trying to find a blog called “Sad and Useless” which wasn’t giving me much luck. A second search for “sadanduseless” as per the web address yielded the result I was looking for.
Very rarely are news reader apps limited to solely reading the news, and as you’d expect Pulse comes with its own social connectivity. Log in and allow access to Twitter and Facebook for super fast sharing to your followers in just two taps. Similarly, sharing via email has been kept simple and opens within Pulse, rather than launching Mail (iPhone, Android may differ).
So how does it compare to Feedly? I can’t help but feel Pulse makes better use of screen real estate, is a lot easier to customize and creates a news experience that’s tailored to you. The ability to connect more personal services like YouTube subscriptions would be nice, mainly because it’s better than the iOS YouTube app for such a purpose.
As it stands Pulse News is a must-try mobile app that works like a charm.
What do you think of Pulse? Any other readers you prefer? Have you tried Feedly too? Have your say in the comments, below.