When I read the announcement that Google was killing Google Reader on July 1 of this year you could have knocked me over with a feather. I was in shock! Working for a software company, I know that these kinds of decisions are made all the time. However, this one really hit home with me. I use Google Reader ALL THE TIME! It’s the 1st tab that is open in my browser of daily sites that I review. Google Reader is my “daily newspaper”. I can easily subscribe to all the sites i’m interested in as well as keywords that will bring up articles of interest. People always ask me “how do you keep up with everything the way you do?” The answer is my secret weapon – Google Reader. I was currently using the Reeder App for iPhone and iPad because they sync’d so well with my Google Reader Account. Life was good! I wasn’t looking for any new features, Google Reader works fine just the way it its. Rather than cancel it, I’d be fine if Google simply said they weren’t going to ever upgrade it again. However, it’s not up to me and I have to deal with the cards I’ve been dealt. That means looking for Google Reader alternatives.
Feedly Announced that They are Picking up the Slack
Feedly was already an alternative reader that sync’d with your Google Reader account. They already have mobile Apps and even a slick Chrome plug-in. However, on the day that Google announced the end of Reader, they posted this blog post stating that they were already working on cloning the Google Reader API. They also posted this post to help you start the migration NOW.
I downloaded their Universal iOS App to get started. I also installed their Chrome plug-in/extension (yes they have one for Safari and other browsers). Setup at this point is pretty easy. Just log in with your existing Google Reader account and your feeds will all be there. That’s it! I’m sure that more has to go on on the backend so that your feeds get pulled in from Feedly instead of Google by July 1, but there really isn’t anything else for you to do at this point.
The Feedly UI
The Feedly user interface is nice and clean. While not quite as streamlined as Reeder, it’s definitely usable. They make good use of gestures and you can configure it with your Instapaper and Bit.ly accounts for saving and sharing. Once I changed the default view to “Latest” and switched on the “Auto Mark as Read” feature I was feeling more at home with this app. I do like having the initial image to the left of each article even on iPhone. This is somethign that Reeder for iPhone lacked.
The Bottom Line
While I’m sad that Google couldn’t figure out a way to keep Google Reader going (I would have paid for it), I’m happy to see several companies step up and offer alternatives. My only gripe with this App is that there should be an easier way to “mark all as read”. Yes, there is a “long swipe” gesture to do this, but it’s not intuitive. If Feedly get’s it together on the backend by July 1, I will have no reason to look any further. They have seen a jump by over 500,000 new users in just 2 days!
I get my news from the internet. I rely heavily on my RSS feeds. However, when I’m on the road and driving I obviously can’t read news stories on my phone. It would be great if I had my own personal news assistent that would not only read me the news, but the news that I’m interested in. That’s exactly what Winston for iPhone aims to do. Think of Winston as your own personal news butler with the accent and all! You set up the App by picking your topics of interest. When you’re ready to hear the news you launch the App and tap “Briefing”. Winston will very politely start by telling you the current time and date, then he continues with tomorrow’s weather forecast for your current location and then start reading the news from the headlines you are most interested in. If you want to skip a story simply swipe to the next one. If you configure your Facebook and Twitter accounts it will read your Facebook news feed. I find this pretty much useless as it says things like “John posted a picture and several people like it”. Same with Twitter, it tells you that someone posted a tweet and perhaps the subject, but not the actual tweet. It’s best to stick to the regular news feeds and topics of interest.
Winston does a good job and I enjoy listening to it while I’m driving. It has a healthy list of Channels including: NPR Headline News, Reuters: Top News, The Guadian, Washing Post World, All Things D, TechCrunch, The Verge, Engadget, USA Today Sports, NPR Sports, Wall Street Journal, CNN Politics, Fashionalogie, Dining and Gaming sites too. However, it needs the ability to read RSS feeds that you supply it. If they turn this into a full fledged news reader I’d enjoy it even more! For now Winston is worth a download and let’s hope it gets better with future updates.
It’s that time of year again. This coming Friday many Americans will head out to the malls, stores and shop online for traditional Black Friday deals. Although I’m not the type that goes out on Friday morning and wait in lines, I do appreciate a good deal just like anyone else. This is why I just pull out my iPhone and check the deals there. When I first started reviewing Black Friday Apps there were only a couple. Now there are several choices on the App Store. I could just pick one (the best one) and recommend it here, but I decided to give you three choices this year. I like each one and each one has a feature or two that the other one doesn’t have. It’s also nice to be able to compare deals between them to make sure that you’re truly finding all the deals and the best deals for what you’re shopping for.
First up and probably my favorite is “TGI Black Friday”
I like this one because the home page of the App has both a Popular Deals and Newest Deal section that’s easy on the eyes. In addition to shopping by stores or categories you can also make a shopping list within the App. Universal App for iPhone/iPad.
Next up is Black Friday Fat Wallet
This is another great choice with an easy layout/UI. You can find deals by store or category as well and searching for specific products. This is a no frills kind of App, but it gets the job done. This is also a Universal App for iPhone and iPad.
Lastly there’s Black Friday Survival Guide
Black Friday news also does a good job of keeping up with the latest news and it also incorporates a shopping list feature. However, it’s not a Universal App and therefore you’ll not want this one if you’re an iPad user.
I have to start with a confession. I think the iPhone display (yes even the 4 inch iPhone 5 display) is too small for graphically rich magazines. With that said, I was curious about all the fuss my colleagues were making over the newly released National Geographic Magazine for both iPad AND iPhone. I decided to take a look and buy one issue (you download the App for free and either buy single issues or a subscription if you don’t already have one). I must say that I found that they really did a good job making it easy to enjoy the text of the articles as well as the photos. They didn’t fall into the common “design hole”! In stead of trying to take a large magazine page and size it down to a smaller iPhone size, they redesigned the experience completely. When I tapped to read the “Sailing the Dunes” article, there was ONE picture at the top and the rest was simply the text of the article. However, this is after all National Geographic. They are known for beautiful imagery. At this point I noticed at the very top right of the interface and there are two buttons “READ” and “LOOK”. When you’re ready to look at all the pretty sand dune pics you tap “LOOK” and you get several slideshows to choose from. Brilliant! Don’t try to squeeze a normal size magazine page down and make a pinching, zooming, scrolling nightmare. Instead rethink the experience and medium in hand. Also keep in mind that this is a Universal App. So if you do have an iPad, you’ll enjoy it in all the iPad’s display size glory.
Great, but not perfect
The one thing that I do have to ding National Geographic on was that this App is not sized for the 4″ iPhone 5 screen yet. It would be even nicer if it filled my screen from top to bottom. The only other thing I’d like to see is at least one “free” issue. Get people hooked with the free sample!
Believe it or not Pinterest is the 3rd largest social network in the US! Up until a few days ago it was an “invite only” network while they were testing and tweaking it to get it right. Now it’s open to all and you can just sign up for an account. Pinterest takes an interesting approach that allows you to setup “boards” and “pin” items of “interest” to those boards for your followers to see.
What is Pinterest for?
Most of these pins are photos, but they can also be things like YouTube videos. I have dabbled with Pinterest and since I have several choices of other sites to show my photography, I DON’T use Pinterest for my photography. Instead, I use it to show other things that I’m interested in. Also photographers have typically been displeased with the use of Pinterest in some ways to violate photographers rights by the site allowing anyone to post pictures from anywhere even if they don’t own the rights to do so. I haven’t look recently to see if their terms of service have changed.
Going iPad native
Whether you like this relatively new social network or not, you have to give them credit for going mobile and iPad native faster than most of the other big networks. It took both Facebook and Google+ relatively forever to bring out their tablet versions. Pinterest for iOS is a Universal App that allows you to:
- Pin your inspirations to online pinboards so you can find them later
- Check out categories to find inspiration for your life in areas like Design, Travel, or Food and Drink
- Follow boards that interest you to discover even more
- Create new pins with your camera
You can also sign up for a Free Pinterest account right in the App.
Be sure to follow me on Pinterest once you get on