If there’s one thing that the software world, be it desktop or mobile applications, is not short of, it’s RSS readers, in fact we recently posted a list of our top 5 news reader apps for the iPad. The various app stores around are bursting at the seams with the things, and they all serve a very similar purpose: to deliver an aggregated feed of news to your desktop, from your favourite sites. For this reason, there is very little room to differentiate in such a crowded market, but for factors such as price and ease of use. Enter Pulp, a recent discovery of mine thanks to the Mac App Store.
As you may have guessed, Pulp is an RSS reader for the Mac. But before we begin taking a closer look at some of the features, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Pulp costs £6.99 as an app store exclusive, although you can download a trial from the developer’s website. Regardless, I saw the screenshots and splashed the cash. Clearly love at first sight is beyond a myth when it comes to good software. Having said that, if you’re someone who prefers not to pay for software when there are perfectly acceptable freebies available that provide the same service, then stop right here. It’s not for you.
So what makes Pulp so special? Well, apart from the entirely unique user interface on display, it actually brings a few great features to the table that rival applications do without.
The first of which, is the so called ‘shelf’, which allows you to save articles for reading later if you’re in a hurry just flicking through some headlines. For anyone who has ever used Instapaper, Read it Later, or even Reading List in Safari on Mac OS X Lion or iOS 5, this won’t be an unfamiliar concept. An entirely handy one, at that. To add a little cherry on the top of this absolute cake of a feature, Pulp syncs saved articles with its iPad counterpart.
Anyway, let’s crack on to talking about that gorgeous UI over there, shall we? Well, upon setting up and organising Pulp for the first time, you’ll have the option to create a number of columns on each ‘page’ of news. I tend to have a separate page for each topic, for example ‘tech’, ‘sports’ and ‘entertainment’. You can flick between these pages with a simple three-fingered sideways gesture in either direction. In fact, much of the navigation of the app is done via multi-touch gestures.
Similarly, there are various views available as preferences within the app for each individual feed. For example, you can decide to display a picture alongside the first, or all, of the articles listed, which will be pulled from the article itself providing there is a picture there to bring down. Alternatively, you can simply have the text, and as ever you can decide on the font size, which might depend on the screen size you’re working with.
All of these UI choices, each of which their own benefits and drawbacks which you can I’m sure decide for yourself if you decide to buy the application, can be transferred over to the iPad edition of Pulp, along with all the feeds that fit the columns, as well as keeping all of your ‘read’ articles in-sync.
Whilst the interface is undoubtedly the aspect of the app which sets it apart from the competition in most respects, there are also a heap of other features, perhaps common to other readers, that ensure that Pulp hasn’t traded function for elegance. For example, along with all the necessary abilities to read, you can share articles with your favourite social networks, and if that’s not enough, you can link it to your Instapaper or Read it Later account if you don’t wish to use the ‘shelf’ feature built in.
Overall it is these preferences which make Pulp such a great app as much as the UI, it’s highly customisable, yet consistently simplistic throughout, giving you a reading experience as close to a ‘newspaper’ as you might get on a PC. But, as with many great things out there, the price is a major drawback for an app with such a great quantity of competitors. If you’re made of money, then there should be nothing holding you back from downloading it right away, if an RSS reader is what you’re after.