Review: Newsstand by omz:software
This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Every RSS Reader, Reviewed. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Possessing dual interfaces and a wealth of features, Newsstand ($5) is certainly the most interesting of all the currently available RSS readers for the iPhone. In vertical orientation (more on that later), the app opens to the feeds view, which offers an edit button for removal or addition of feeds, buttons for access to all unread and flagged items, and a list of feeds, along with buttons for refreshing all feeds or marking all items as read. The add feed menu sports a bottom-tabbed interface, with options for searching Bloglines for new feeds, importing feeds from a Bloglines account or an OPML file, adding a folder for feed management, or adding a feed by URL, complete with feed auto-discovery.
Tapping a feed in the main feeds view presents a list of all items in the feed both read and unread, each with the title, date, and three lines of summary, and refresh and mark all as read buttons at the bottom. The individual item view presents the title below the navigation bar, the summary below that, and a bottom bar with a button to flag the item, and eye button for choosing between six different view styles, a talk bubble button for sharing the item via email or posting to del.icio.us, and a compass button to open the item in the built-in browser, from which the user can choose to open the item in Safari.
Turn the iPhone or iPod touch on its side, however, and Newsstand becomes a totally different animal. Landscape mode, as it’s called, presents each subscribed feed as a magazine or paper on a shelf, complete with the feed title and most recent items on the “cover.” Users navigate through feeds like they would in the iPod app’s CoverFlow mode, swiping across to move through the options. Double-tapping on a feed opens it like one would a magazine, with two pages presented: entry titles on the left-hand side, and the selected entry summary on the right. It’s a great example of the kind of innovation we like to see from iPhone developers: well designed, unique, and novel new interface solutions for common applications. It’s this kind of innovation that will help propel the iPhone OS forward as a platform; an example of an experience that can’t be found on similar, competing devices.
What it lacks in features, such as two-way syncing and offline browsing, Newsstand makes up for with a wealth of import options, a highly-usable traditional interface, and a must-see alternate Landscape mode, the last of which could have easily been sold as a separate application. It provides more than enough value to be worth its $5 asking price, and while the addition of offline browsing and two-way syncing would make it even better, it remains worthy of our high recommendation. iLounge Rating: A-.