Let’s face it. The app store is overflowing with RSS readers.
On the iPad it began with the highly publicized Flipboard and developers took off from there. While I’m quite an avid blog reader, all the reader apps can begin to blend together after awhile – to a point where I find myself not paying much attention anymore. However, there are a few, like Reeder, that find ways to stand out.
Typically what causes them to stand out is a wealth of features, a beautiful design that has visual appeal, and a twist on the basic concept of reader apps. I quickly found that The Early Edition 2 fits that mold and has quite a bit to offer.
The way people keep up on the news and various reading such as magazines, journals, etc. has changed. I actually have a friend who gets his morning news from his Twitter feed. For many, gone are the days of reading the morning newspaper, but this app has found a way to reinvent the newspaper, hence the name The Early Edition 2.
Quick and Easy SetupThe Early Edition 2 is simple to get set up. When you first open the app you are given the option of using it as a standalone app or importing your RSS feeds from Google Reader. I chose to sync with Google Reader and it took less than a minute to import the 24 feeds I subscribe to and all of my unread posts. Next, you can choose to take a short welcome tour walking you through some of the most used gestures and features that are offered.
Scanning the HeadlinesAfter syncing my feeds and taking the tour it was ready to assemble my paper. As I mentioned earlier, this app reinvents the newspaper. Within two minutes of downloading the app I was enjoying flipping through a digital newspaper featuring headlines from all of the blogs I regularly read. The inside cover page shows what words are trending in your “issue” and gives you an area to search all posts, save your searches, and easily see the last time you synced. While I love the look of the newspaper’s front page, I find the inside pages to feel a little cluttered. Some pages had over ten headlines crammed into one page, but this could have been because I had so many unread posts to catch up on. For those who prefer to separate out their unread posts by feed you can choose to do that as well instead of mixing them all together, although this is presented in a list style instead of the newspaper look.
The difference between this and a print newspaper is that you don’t see the full story in the newspaper layout. Instead, the story’s headline and a few sentences are displayed and if you wish to continue reading you simply tap the headline to bring up the full story in its own window. Here you have many options available to you – view the post on its webpage without leaving the app, share it with your social networks (facebook, twitter, instapaper, delicious), email the link, star it to save to your clippings, swipe between posts, etc.
One thing that stood out to me was how many features were available in this reader while still maintaining a very clean, simplistic layout. Other than the features I mentioned above, there is a featured feeds section with suggestions, the ability to display photos bigger in their own window, and a wide variety of gestures and shortcuts to make your browsing feel effortless.
The Featured Feeds section has quite a few options available. In all, there are fourteen categories to choose from with twelve sites listed in each category.
Double tapping an image brings it up in its own window. From there you can swipe left and right to skim through photos in that article, or up and down to view photos in other posts. The photo viewer is nice for flipping through quality images from photography websites or news articles with a lot of photos.
The developer added some settings in this edition to make for faster load times, so you can get reading without having to wait. One of the new settings is the option to preload images so they download in the background or you can hide images altogether (which can also save on your data plan if you’re using 3G). The app syncs quickly when reopened and stories can be read offline for those times when you’re without WiFi or 3G signal.
Who’s It For?
Due to the endless number of reader apps available on the iPad I think it’s always best to ask the question “who’s it for?” when deciding which apps to purchase. The Early Edition 2 costs $4.99, so you’ll want to make sure it will suit your needs if you’re going to shell out cash when there are so many free reader apps available.
The newspaper layout is pretty nice looking, but really lends itself better to browsing than reading every story. I could see myself using this app as a standalone much like I do Flipboard when I’m in the mood for some casual reading and want to take a break from my feeds to browse some other publications I don’t read regularly. If you prefer to read or at least skim the posts of every feed you subscribe to you can use this app to do that, but probably would be better suited to save the money and stick to one of the free alternatives.
Overall, The Early Edition 2 offers a ton of features with an elegant and simple design. What are your thoughts? Could you see yourself purchasing this for your reading?