My iOS App Picks for 2014 – eBook Readers

It’s that time of year again — the year is ending, coming to a close. And we often take time to look back at things we’ve done. In my case, I thought I’d look back at the iOS apps that have most engaged me over the last year.

I’ll basically select a ‘winner’ and a ‘runner up’, and give a few reasons why the app captured my attention and interest.

So, without further preamble, here’s my first category and selections: Continue reading “My iOS App Picks for 2014 – eBook Readers”

Many flavours of RSS readers for iPad

title.jpgEarlier today Feedly was reintroduced to the iPad iOS world with significant buzz — Robert Scoble profiled the reader (check the video below).

One of the notable things about Feedly is its HTML 5 base — which allows the majority of functions to be device agnostic (Android, Windows Phone, etc).

But on iOS devices, there are a number of RSS readers that have made names for themselves, and are happily co-existing on my iPad.

All of these readers, in some way, tap into your various social media streams, as well as an existing Google Reader account — which is cool, as you can use the power of Google Reader to manage the feeds, then simply consume the content on your mobile device as is convenient.
 
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Some are my daily use RSS reader, and others, while interesting, just haven’t managed to keep my attention.
Here’s a few of the ones I like, and why:

 

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Zite
Currently my daily use news reader, grabs content from your Twitter stream, your Google Reader RSS feeds, and your Delicious bookmarks.

Zite gives you a very clean and polished interface consisting of algorithmically-selected stories from your content feeds.

Interestingly, you can rate and share the content. As you do this, Zite ‘remembers’ the content you’ve rated and will get smarter about displaying content to you as it learns. After a few weeks, you’ll have your own tuned and personalized digital magazine made up of the content you like to consume.

The only downside? The danger of too much ‘sameness’.  I do occasionally like to read outside my regular patterns, and I fear Zite will not expose me to some new and interesting things by only showing me more of what I like and review. Time will tell.

 

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FlipBoard
Initially my regular reader, now it’s down to about once a month. Nice display, nice method of reading, but not good enough to keep me coming back. Zite has replaced FlipBoard as my ‘visual’ reader.

 

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Reeder
The 500lb gorilla of RSS readers — quickly and efficiently manages your content. Displays RSS feeds cleanly and allows you to easily browse your feeds. Simple and elegant design has kept me using this as my regular RSS reader when I want to drill down to see what content I’ve missed from a particular source.

 

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Pulse
I have a love / hate relationship with Pulse. Nice display. Easy to use and share content. It’s my Number 2 RSS reader…except when it crashes. And it has, usually once a session when I use it, which is becoming less frequent.

 

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FLUD
An odd one that has stayed on my device, for the time being.

Similar to Pulse in layout, but not quite as efficient in handling feeds, at least from an end-user perspective.

 

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Feedly
The new kid on the block. Ties in to Google Reader, has a nifty swipe-sensitive interface to flip pages, and a very nice look and feel.

I don’t like the way the content is locked in a vertical orientation (portrait mode)…and am somewhat concerned as a blog owner that they’ve blocked out an area for inserting advertising in my blog content stream — yes they ask you to ping them if that’s your content stream, but what if I don’t — will they insert their own advertising on my content?

Regardless, Feedly is new, and has my attention for now — time will tell, especially as it grows on other mobile platforms.

Your turn — what mobile RSS reader is your daily go-to reader, and why?

Oh, and here’s that Feedly video I promised :smileyhappy:

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Emerging Tech: This magazine app knows what you like

screner

You’ve got an iPad and all the popular magazine, content, reading apps like Reeder, Flipboard, Pulse, and FLUD. Well now there’s a new one using technology from the University of British Columbia’s Laboratory for Computational Intelligence.

It’s called Zite, and is it ever cool. But first, the video.

Why I like it
It’s a learning app. Log in to your Google Reader and Twitter account, let Zite perform a bit of analysis, and you’ve got content that Zite thinks you’re interested in. And it’s free 🙂

Why I’m not recommending an eBook reader this Christmas

This holiday season it seems that the eBook reader is the must-have tech gift.

I can understand why:

  • Portable – it’s easier to carry one eReader loaded with a few hundred (or thousand!) books
  • Searchable – some of the eReaders can  scan and search for text passages, letting you bookmark them for future reference
  • Annotations – in addition to bookmarking your pages, some eReaders let you make notes ‘in the margin’ so to speak. These can be saved out, exported to other docs for use

But even though eReaders are the rage — you may want to wait another few months before you invest;

  • Technology is improving — the nifty eInk process used to display highly readable text on an LCD-like screen is improving. The refresh rate and pixel resolution is improving, so the annoying (to me, at least) flicker when you flip pages will be reduced when eBooks adopt newer eInk tech.
  • More options — Barnes & Nobel has integrated a colour touch screen in their Nook eReader — in addition to the eInk text display.
  • More choice — Apple’s much predicted (yet never announced) Tablet device could arrive in the first half of next year. If so, this’ll be the ‘must-have’ eReader. Not only an eBook reader, the device will likely have all the functions of a current generation iPod Touch. If you think of it as a portable computer then you’ve got it. Though, many don’t like the backlit display of the iPhone and iPod touch for reading — too bright and hard on the eyes for long-term use — I’ve not noticed a problem in long session’s I’ve had.
  • Current eReaders are not discountedIn this ComputerWorld article, it seems that eBook readers have the highest markup of all technology available this holiday season:
    E-book readers aren’t really getting swept up in the cost cutting. While some stores are actually paying you to take free BlackBerry phones, for example, e-book readers still cost hundreds of dollars.
  • Proprietary eBook stores — I’m not sure how this will shake down. Google, Sony, Amazon all have (or will soon have) online eBook shops, and there’s a host of independent ones too. The selection of books available at (or limited to) certain eBook stores may decide which unit you get…but it shouldn’t. I’d look for something that supports the widely accepted  ePub standard.

My recommendation — if you don’t already have one, wait a bit. You’ll get new features, perhaps a better price, perhaps a better unit, and more selection to choose from.