The iPad just recently launched internationally, which means I only got my hands on one last Friday. As you can probably imagine, I’ve already basically doubled the cost of the device in app purchases, but I’ve already noticed a surprising dearth of quality RSS reader applications.
One early contender is The Early Edition ($4.99), a reader with an innovative newspaper-like user interface that looks, at least from the screenshots, like it could be the answer to my RSS problems on the iPad platform. If staying current is as important to your work as it is to mine, you’ll know how valuable a great RSS reader is.
Is The Early Edition great? Well, true to its name, it was rushed out the door to take advantage of being one of the first available RSS reading applications on the iPad platform. That means good revenue, but it doesn’t necessarily mean great user experience. But version 1.1, the one I’ll be reviewing here, promises to rectify a lot of the early mistakes.
First, there’s no denying that the app is pretty. Gorgeous probably wouldn’t be an overstatement. In both landscape and portrait views, it shows content in an easy-to-digest, aesthetically pleasing manner. In landscape mode you have quick access to your source list, though I would appreciate a hide button to allow for a full-screen view of the newspaper in this mode.
I like the ability to organize feeds according to categories, which then puts them into what amount to sections within the newspaper. Tapping on a folder in the source menu will bring up the relevant section and all blogs contained within. By default, The Early Edition provides some pretty terrific content and category breakdowns, but you can easily take out what you don’t like or scrap the whole mess and start from scratch, too.
At any time, you can re-import the sample feeds if you find you miss them, or add sources from websites (auto-discovery is enabled, just enter the top level address) and import feeds from your Google Reader account. Note that with Google Reader, it’s import only; it won’t sync your read/unread items.
If you are in need of a quality RSS reader on the iPad, The Early Edition will do you no harm, and likely a lot of good besides. If you downloaded version 1.0 and removed the app before the 1.1 release, as a number of my colleagues did, then I guarantee reinstalling the app will be a move you don’t regret. Early Edition developer Glasshouse may have been overly eager to cash in on the iPad App Store goldrush, but they also clearly listen to, value, and most importantly, act on reader feedback.
Let us know what you think of The Early Edition in the comments.
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Why the iPad is Right for the Enterprise