App Review: Blogshelf for iPad


The web is so chock full of information that keeping up with favorite sources can be daunting. RSS feed readers are a dime a dozen, yet a good way to follow lots of blogs and online resources. If you’re like me, in addition to tracking many RSS feeds, there are a few blogs you keep up with because you like to read everything the writers publish. These blogs are the go-to blogs that you like so much you don’t want to miss anything, and, unfortunately, RSS feed readers can let them get lost in the crowd. That’s where Blogshelf for the iPad fits in nicely — it is like iBooks for blogs.

In essence, Blogshelf is another RSS reader. While it’s not as good as other readers at following a lot of content, it shines at grabbing the content from a few blogs — the app is limited to 90 blogs maximum — and presenting the content in a format that’s easy to read. The app’s utility is extended as it caches the content locally, so you don’t need a connection to the web to read content. This makes it a great tool for following favorite blogs on trips where connectivity may not be available, like on flights.

When you first fire up Blogshelf, you see a familiar bookshelf interface that is very much like iBooks. It is pre-populated with some popular blogs, but you can add the ones you want and delete the ones you don’t via the Edit button at the top of the screen. As soon as the app is activated, it goes online and downloads fresh content for every blog on the shelf. That only takes a few seconds and then Blogshelf is ready to present some blog posts.

When you tap a blog on the shelf, a content screen appears with all blog posts available to read. Each is presented with an excerpt so you’ll know what the post is about. Tapping the excerpt gets you a full screen display of the blog post. The content is displayed in a format that is easy on the eyes, with all links and images intact. Tapping a link opens the internal browser for full web interaction. Tapping the back button at the top of the screen brings you back to the article in Blogshelf.

Blogshelf provides display controls to customize the article display. The font size can be customized, and the display can be switched to white text on a black background. Entire articles can be sent via email by tapping the envelope icon at the top of the screen.

If you just want to follow a lot of blogs through RSS feeds, you will want another reader since Blogshelf is not designed for handling reams of content. It does a good job following those few great blogs, though, and is a capable reader that is enjoyable to use. $4.99.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Can Anyone Compete With the iPad?


Jail Break

I wonder if this will work on my jailbroken iPad. Can Apple actually stop this from running on my legally jailbroken device. I hope not, actually the guberment should required Apple to ensure all their apps work with any jailbroken iPhone as a matter of policy. It’s OUR PHONE after all, it does not belong to Apple but they should support it because there is an implied support when they sold the bill-o-goods to us.


Apple doesn’t prevent you from running legally-purchased apps on a jailbroken device – at least, that’s been my experience with iPhones and I don’t see why it would differ on iPads.

In fact, Apple’s been fairly decent when it comes to jailbroken devices. They’ve certainly not tried to wield the DMCA against anyone that has jailbroken their hardware.

That said, I disagree with your suggestion that the “guberment” should require Apple to ensure all apps work with a jailbroken phone. That’s ridiculous. Think about it. You’re talking about supporting potentially hundreds of different variations of the core Apple iOS platform. That’s like saying all Linux packages made for Debian should install and work just fine on Fedora. Depending on the changes you make to the phone/device after it’s been jailbroken, entire directories, libraries, and files could vary from device to device. How do you ensure an app works across all that?

If I were Apple, I’d take this position: “OK, go ahead and jailbreak your phone. We can’t stop you, it’s your phone. But if you want support and bring it into an Apple store, you have to install the standard iOS operating system and configuration. If the problem goes away, great – it was something in your modified OS that was causing the issue. If the problem persists, we’ll absolutely do what we need to in order to fix it – and afterward you can re-jailbreak”.

As someone who’s done both mobile development (as in hardware) and support, that’s the only realistic position a company can take with an open device.


Mike, well put!!

I don’t believe Apple and ATT should not have to support devices that have been modified.

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