Review: Byline by Phantom Fish

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.

Byline ($10) is a Google Reader application for the iPhone. Instead of offering users a list of subscribed feeds, Byline’s simple interface presents a set number of unread articles (25 by default, can be set from 25 to 200) in a smallish font with the source, title, time, and two lines of summary; options at the bottom of the list let the user mark all as read and load more items.

Review: Byline by Phantom Fish

Buttons at the top of the screen switch between new items, starred items, and notes views, while a refresh button resides at the bottom.

One of the big things Byline has going for it is the ability to archive entire webpages for offline viewing. The app automatically archives starred items and any news items linked to in your Reader account Notes, archived items are presented in a built-in browser, while normal (not archived) items are presented in a simple, standard view with a button to star the item. Links tapped from inside the normal item view send users to Safari instead of the built-in bowser.

A menu in the iPhone’s Settings app lets users set the number of unread articles to display and toggle auto syncing, Wi-Fi-only archiving, sort by oldest, offline browsing, and the home screen unread badge on and off.


Review: Byline by Phantom Fish

Byline offers many of the features we see as important to its category, such as offline browsing, the ability to sync with an online service, and the ability to star or flag items, but its limited, all-in-one new item view will likely be a huge turn-off for any user with more than a handful of feeds — a major problem, in our view. The ability to view individual feeds and groups of feeds would greatly increase the value of Byline, which currently boasts the highest price of any iPhone RSS Reader. At a lower price, we could overlook some of the app’s shortcomings, but for $10, we feel readers will be better off considering a better, more reasonably priced solution.