Friday, November 05, 2010

iPad for the News Junkies

Ok, Ok I admit I’m a new Junkie. More accurately I’m an information junkie. No day is complete without scanning the web and more specifically a few dozen websites and news sources I track to get the info I want.

Now to keep track of this I’ve transitioned to RSS and more specifically to Google Reader, to keep track of and to scan multiple sources as efficiently as possible a couple of years. As it is Web based it stays in sync across multiple platforms so I can easily jump from my PC to my Smartphone to my iPad and back again, while always being in sync.

Now the thing is that while I like the full version on the PC and love the mobile iPhone version (in fact my preferred version) the mobile version does not work that well on the larger screen of the iPad. So one of the first things I went looking for on the iPad App store was for RSS readers that could sync with Google Reader.

The First one I found was Reeder. It is definitely the most visually appealing and the most responsive in terms of navigation. Added to the multiple ways in which you can interact with the content, ranging from the Reader basics such as Starring, sharing, etc to more advanced features like in app email to share articles or saving the article to services like Instapaper, ReaditLater, Delicious and Pinbard as well as posting to Twitter.

It syncs with Google and downloads the headers so that you can scan and process the items, even offline. However the Sync is also the issue that causes the most problems and at times is the most frustrating part of the experience. It appears that of you have a lot of unread items, Reeder is unable to sync up unread items and as such the count is not displayed correctly leading to situations when you think you have seen all the unread items, but a large section has just not been synced to the device.

So while I do use Reeader regularly I’ve gone out and tried some alternative RSS readers that also sync with Google Reader. One that was being mentioned a lot was River Of News, So I went and downloaded it. The Look and interface is pretty similar to the full Google reader interface on the PC with touches of the iPad Mail interface so you can pretty easily jump right in.

Still while the interface is nice, it just doesn’t have the Visual flare and flexibility of Reeder so that still remains my go to RSS reader.

I did try out another RSS Reader, Feeddler RSS Reader Pro and I actually paid for the pro version as the options looked well worth it. The interface is similar to standard Google reader. One interface element however drives me up the wall is that the item don’t show the article summary or text just below it  which means that I need to tap the item name to read the summary and then tap again if i want to go to the article on the web. I’ve found no way to change this so this app sits mostly unused.

This takes care of the feeds, but there are times that you just need to read a newspaper, especially as many papers don’t have RSs feeds and even then many that do don’t put all the articles on the web.

Now I travel a lot, and try to keep up with news from a number of countries and regions. As such having access to English language newspapers is usually a luxury, with the International Herald Tribune the only one that is usually available. While I like the Trib, I cant rely on it for as my only source, so I do try to get a hold of other papers when ever I can.

Now a short while ago, someone clued me in to the existence of PressDisplay and their PressReader App. PressDisplay is a service that provides access to thousands of publications from around the world in multiple languages. It provides a complete replice of the newspaper, Ad’s and all to provide a very real newspaper like experience.

Now while the service is great and can be accessed via a web browser or native apps for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Pc and Mac with an Android client in the works it is not free.

With a basic subscription starting at $10 for a daily subscription to a single paper to $30 a month for unlimited access to all papers. While that does steep, and did cause me to put it aside when i first saw it, thinking about it further led me to consider that a justifiable expense. I usually pay $1 daily for the IHT anyway so for the same amount I can have that as well as a few hundred more papers. So for the last few days I’ve been skimming 15-20 papers a day reacquainting with some my old favourite papers and columnist.

So combining these two sources with the podcasts i follow I’m able to sustain my information addiction. So As i’ve mentioned in my previous posts, the iPad is turning out to be pretty good Media consumption device.

I’ll post about the apps I use for Document and Ebook reading in another post in this series in a few days.