It’s often said that Android apps lack some of the panache of their iPhone equivalents. Pulse News begs to differ. Originally launched for iOS, it has come to Android in all its glory, instantly taking its place as one of the prettiest apps on the platform. Pulse is an RSS reader that pulls in the latest updates from your 25 favourite websites. But unlike every RSS app, it doesn’t present these updates to you in a simple text list, making the day’s events look like your email inbox – it does so far in a far more graphical, finger-friendly way that makes the same stories inviting to read.
A grid of images shows all your latest updates. Swipe up and down to view your feeds, then when you find the one you want to read, swipe left and right to see each story heading, along with a small thumbnail image. It’s a pleasure to use on a phone, and makes even more effective use of the larger display area on a tablet as well. The glorious presentation doesn’t end with this home screen. Tap on a story and it will open so you can read it (full webpages, if needed, will open within the app rather than needing to launch the browser separately), then you can continue swiping left or right to browse through some of the other recent stories from that same site.
It’s a really efficient use of the RSS format, one that enables you to quickly pick and choose which stories you read across all your favourite sites, as well as casually browsing any individual site on your own. Content channels are recommended, making it trivial to find good reading online, and you can add social networking feeds as well. Pulse is a real pleasure to use, proof that good design does have a positive impact on usability of an app way beyond the realms of mere eye candy.
You will undoubtedly find more features on offer in some of the more utilitarian apps in the Market – power users will baulk at the prospect of limiting their feeds to 25 (we’ve got at least twice that number that we follow on a regular basis), while there are limitations in the settings as well. This may serve to make the app easier to use, but reduces the extent to which you can configure how it performs. But whatever complaints there might be, they’re few and far between. The app is fast and very stable, receives regular updates and is also compatible with many other popular online services, including Google Reader, Evernote and Read it Later,