Newsstand – Review
App Type: Uncategorized
By: Ole Zorn
Version #: 1.0
Date Released: 2008-08-26
Price: 4.99User Rating:
One of the things I am beginning to see is that iPhone app developers tend to fall into two camps. On the one hand there are those who rush out apps that are anywhere from okay to awful. On the other hand there are developers who slowly release apps that are well-conceived, graphically rich and different enough from similar apps to stand out. That is definitely the case with omx:software.
In July I reviewed their first iPhone app, Fire Words. It is a Boggle-esque word game that is different enough to be both fun and challenging. Newsstand, a full-featured RSS reader for the iPhone and iPod Touch, is their second app. It is equally excellent. Thus far, I have been incredibly disappointed in many of the iPhone resident RSS readers. As a result I have been using NetNewsWire since it was first released. Newstand not only stands up to NetNewsWire but, on many levels, it stands far taller. There is, unfortunately, one thing missing that keeps it from being a home run for me.
When you start it the first time the app indicates that some initial stock feeds are included. For once it s actually a good selection that includes the NYTimes, Lifehacker and Rolling Stone.. Of course, the beauty of RSS feeds is customization- the ability to select only those feeds you want. Fortunately, auto-feed detection, a feature that did not work on other RSS readers, works perfectly here. I typed in the URL of a number of my favorite sites and Newsstand quickly detected the embedded feeds. Selecting them took just one more tap.
The app is incredibly flexible and you can also import a subscription list from your Bloglines account or from any OPML file on the web (once you have exported it from your favorite desktop or online newsreader. You can also find and subscribe to feeds with the integrated Bloglines search.
Newsstand can offer feeds in the familiar hierarchical format. Tap the post you want and the summary immediately appears. An icon on the bottom right opens the original website post in a mini browser within the application.
You can also send the post as an email or post it to del.icio.us or flag it for later access. Emailed posts come through with the post title as subject, the summary in text format and a direct link to the website. The app also offers six different themes that change font size, form and color. (Personally I like the default theme best.)
Newsstand also has full support for hierarchical organization of feeds in folders and imported subscription lists retain their folder structure and you can also reorganize them easily.
All of this makes Newsstand an excellent RSS reader for the iPhone or iPod Touch. Excellent but not unique. Newsstand is, however, unique.
If you turn the iPhone or iPod Touch from portrait to landscape while looking a feed list, a list of posts from a feed or a post itself, the feed list, feed or post transforms into a newspaper and magazine shelf. (Think coverflow but even better since it gives two levels of data. for example the post list on the left and a specific post’s details on the right. ) It is cute and different but it is also functional as it makes skimming through articles even faster.
So what is missing? Just one thing- a web based or desktop app that is kept in sync so that the reader can choose which device to read on and each will have the exact same data. For me this is the killer feature of NetNewsWire and is the only reason I will likely be staying with it.
Value: High (It would be higher if free but developers deserve to make a living.)
Would I Buy Again: If it synced with a desktop app- absolutely. As currently designed- maybe.
Learning Curve: Low
Who is it for: People who read RSS feeds, like apps with excellent, unique graphics
What I like: Feed detector works well, a variety of formats for reading, unique
What I Don’t: Does not sync with desktop/web-based reader
Final Statement: I like this reader a lot. If you want/need a stand alone reader this is definitely one to consider. (I should note that the app would not open fully at start the first time until I turned my iPhone of and back on. After that it was fine.)
- Automatic feed discovery
- Easy import from Bloglines or OPML
- Integrated Bloglines feed search
- Organization of feeds in folders
- Themes for customizable display of articles
- Integrated mini browser to read the original website of a news item
- Sharing via email or delicious.com bookmarks
A demo video and more information are available on www.iphonenewsreader.com.O U R T A K E . . .
Article By danc
danc has written 224 awesome app reviews.