FLUD: Another Great iPad News Experience

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the iPad for me has been the richly interactive new ways it has brought to consume content. There is simply no better experience for reading the news from your favorite sources than that provided by the host of innovative iPad apps.

Today we bring you just such an app. FLUD is a beautiful newsreader with a unique interface that’s catching the attention of designers and news addicts everywhere.

What Is FLUD?

screenshot

The FLUD Opening Screen

The basic concept of FLUD isn’t complicated to grasp, it’s simply a feedreader wrapped in an interesting interface. Appropriate comparisons can be drawn to Flipboard, an awesome free newsreader that received quite a bit of press in its initial release.

Like Flipboard, FLUD aggregates content from several news sources and inserts it into a grid-based modular interface. When you open up the app for the first time, it is already preloaded with a number of news sources (I was pleasantly surprised to see a Web.AppStorm article at the top spot).

screenshot

The Basic FLUD Interface

As you can see in the screenshot above, the primarily black and gray interface uses very minimal icons and thin, modern typography. Each horizontal strip is a particular source containing a horizontally scrolling selection of stories, represented by the row of rectangles.

Reading An Article

Tapping on an article will bring up the “Text View” of that article. This is basically the version of the article you would expect to see in an RSS feed reader. All of the CSS styling, ads, etc. are stripped away and the article is presented in a simple, easy-to-read format.

screenshot

Article Text View

At first I wondered why the articles didn’t expand to take up the entire screen as they seemed to render the rest of the interface useless anyway. However, it turns out all of the rows on the left are still perfectly functional and you can conveniently scan through and bring up new content without leaving the article view (this works even better with a vertical orientation).

Menu Bar Options

The little menu bar at the top of the article window has a four different actions to choose from.

screenshot

Menu Bar

The first icon in this menu simply closes the article view and brings you back to the full grid. Next up is the “Web View” button. Tapping this will replace the simple text version of the article with an actual view of the web page it appears on.

screenshot

Web View

Next up, the circle icon in the menu allows you to view the current web page in Safari and the heart icon allows you to either favorite the article or share it using email, Facebook or Twitter.

screenshot

Sharing an article

Adding Sources

Along the top of the app, the sources are divided into various categories. Some of these are empty by default and require you to add your own desired content.

screenshot

Tap the wrench icon to add content

To add a source, you tap the wrench icon in the upper right of the screen. The easiest way to add feeds is to browse the featured section and check what you want to include, but there are also a couple of other options. You can search for feeds or login with your Google ID and import your Google Reader feeds.

screenshot

Featured Feeds

Since I have a ton of feeds in Google Reader, I was happy that I could select only feeds that I wanted to import to FLUD one at a time, but some users might get frustrated at the lack of a bulk import.

screenshot

Google Reader Integration

The Good

On the whole, I love using FLUD. The design is really attractive and fun to use. It doesn’t feel quite as much of a revolutionary visual experience as Flipboard, which also has much better social media integration, but FLUD is a superior app for sorting through lots of content at once and it thankfully doesn’t have the annoying content limit seen in Flipboard.

The app is smooth and responsive, and loads stories quickly if you stick to text view. In my view, the app’s strong point is that it’s not limited to a few pre-formatted feeds. I love that I can easily import all the content that I read daily on other mediums right into FLUD and experience it in a whole new way.

The Bad

I spent a lot of time with FLUD before writing this review and the one issue that I couldn’t let go was the crashing. Much of the content thrown into FLUD by default contains videos. About 60% of the time I was able to load and watch videos just fine. However, there was also lots and lots of crashing.

I haven’t experienced a single issue on a page that doesn’t contain a video, but as soon as one pops up, you’ve got a good chance of seeing your home screen in a few seconds because the app will close. This is particularly frustrating if you’ve already invested enough time to wait for a video to load and watch half of it.

Closing Thoughts

Despite the problems I experienced with video content, I definitely think FLUD is well worth the $1.99 if you’re in the market for a different kind of news reader. It may not provide you with the most efficient way to read the news, but the experience is much better than a plain old list of feeds.

Give FLUD a download and let us know what you think in the comments below. Is it better or worse than similar apps like Flipboard? Do you think design-heavy readers like this are just a fad or something that will change the way we consume content long-term?


Summary

"FLUD is a modern, beautiful and personalized news ecosystem that empowers it's users to engage and broadcast relevant content to their social networks."

9