We all have a favourite News source. One that appeals to our political sensibilities, our sense of what is important, or simply our desire for readability. The most discerning of us probably check at least one more source (even if it is The Onion) and this can be a pain, requiring you to open a variety of Apps or, heaven forbid, a site on mobile safari…
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an App that could amalgamate all your favourite News sources and present them to you in a supremely accessible form? ‘Yes’, I hear you say, ‘but it would have to be brilliant for me to actually change the way I get my news…’
I’ve got an App you might like. It’s called Pulse News Mini.
Design & Interface
It’s worth prefacing this review with a reminder that Pulse is free, includes no adds, and appears to want the best for you. The overall design of Pulse is great and immediately made an impact. It uses greys extremely effectively to frame each news source while highlighting the design with a very complimentary light blue colour. It’s use of photographs to make up the bulk of its visual content is excellent and grabs your attention every time you open the App.
Pulse’s interface is based on a layout used by several other news Apps (notably BBC News) but this is far from a criticism! Laying out the interface with three sources vertically, and three stories horizontally, is the best approach to mobile news that I have seen. Pulse has its priorities correct and fits in as much content as it possibly can – only keeping a small header for itself. Its icons are clear and intuitive while I must admit I like the simple nature of the Pulse logo – displayed in lower case and in a colour that works brilliantly with the chosen grey neutrals.
Adding Your Favourite Sources
Pulse quickly and easily guides you through the process of adding and organising your favourite news sources using its tips section and an array of quirky sketches! It’s a good touch and much more enjoyable than being left to figure the App out on your own (not that it would be particularly difficult).
It’s definitely worth reading through the tips in order to get the most out of Pulse!
You can edit the existing sources and add new ones by touching the setting icon in the top left corner and hitting the + – or you can quickly jump to adding new sources by scrolling to the bottom of your feeds and pressing the footer bar. Either of these options take you to a window that gives you a variety of options for adding new sources, including:
- Reader (Google)
The Featured sources are chosen by Pulse and selected due to their popularity and because they will display perfectly within the App. To find a specific source, you can search by keyword, user name, or url. Pulse attempts to keep ahead of the competition by including several crossover features including integration with Google Reader and the ability to use Bump to share your sources with a friend.
This Is The News
Now for the actual functionality of the App, does it make reading the news and keeping up with your RSS feeds easier?
For reading Pulse’s featured news sources it works really quite well. The photos are shown on the home screen and selecting a story takes you to version of the feed nicely formatted by Pulse. If you like you can select the story heading at the top to take you to the site/blog itself, which is then shown as formatted for mobile safari but from within Pulse.
The slight problems begin to crop up when trying to view sources not on Pulse’s featured list. Even with a source such as the BBC, Pulse often struggles to find the photos to go with the stories – marring the beautiful potential of the home screen. Even worse however, is that Pulse often only displays the very first paragraph of a story and requires you to open the mobile (or heaven forbid full-size) version of the story to read the rest! It is also unfortunate that there are a lot of sources (including many major ones) that fall in this category.
I’d love to say that these criticisms are minor and don’t really affect the experience of using Pulse but they really do! It’s frustrating to read a BBC news story awkwardly within pulse when the experience is so much better when using the BBC’s native App. The redeeming fact is that pulse is new to the game and does look great when everything’s working smoothly, over time the amalgamation of information from the vast array of news sources may significantly improve but for now there are shortcomings.
If you own an iPad, check out the original Pulse News Reader. The experience really is much better on the big screen!
It must be said that I just can’t fault Pulse’s interface design, but it does have some problems when it comes down to pure functionality. I really want to have Pulse as my sole source for news and articles but it isn’t currently in a position to completely outdo the competition.
If the idea of having all your sources in one location appeals to you then certainly don’t hesitate to take Pulse out for a try, you may find it works beautifully with all your favourite sources, but it hasn’t quite done enough to take the top spot for me!