Whilst scouring through the new Mac App Store, I stumbled across an interesting looking £11.99 application called Zipline. It’s basically a news feed for your desktop, with a little extra spice, but I just felt that it was a little too expensive to be a justified purchase. So I left it.
That there outlines the single biggest problem with the App Store itself. Had there been a trial version, I could have justified it, but there wasn’t. So, in my infinite wisdom I quit the App Store, went straight to the developer, Stuffed Iggy Software’s website and looked for a demo. What do you know? I found one, so I downloaded it and as it turns out the demo is fully functional, though you get the occasional reminder to purchase.
Basically, Zipline is a plugin-based news ticker for your desktop. It sits quite indiscreetly below the menu bar at the top and keeps a constant stream of your feeds rolling across. There are a variety of options when it comes to sources, though.
For instance you can not only have your standard RSS feeds rolling through, but also your Facebook and Twitter accounts with statuses, application messages and wall posts. Not bad, but on top of that you can access your to-do list on iCal, or your calendar events, through the Zipline feed or alternatively you can view messages from the system log. If you wish, you can compile all of the sources into a single feed. Bingo. All of your news, feeds, messages, links, events etc. in one place: your desktop. Convenient, right?
However, annoyingly by default Zipline sits on top of your open windows, which is OK for a while, until you open a window. However, this can be altered by a simple setting, as well as the width, background colour, font colour, alignment and scrolling speed of the ticker. You can also change the direction, but I find that right to left feels a lot more natural than the opposite, which has you reading backwards or waiting for an entire update to get across and sometimes disappear before you get to read it.
A couple of features I would like to see added to Zipline is, firstly, a quick access button to rewind the feed as a couple of times I have found myself catching the end of a headline and becoming intrigued, but not being quick enough to open the link before it disappears.
All in all, the Zipline desktop news ticker application is a great idea. But unfortunately I don’t think the quality of the application is quite there yet, not enough to justify the £11.99 price tag on the App Store anyway. I don’t like many of the settings and features, but the free demo offers enough functionality to justify keeping around. I’m just glad the developers refrained from slapping ads all over the free version and also kept the same functionality (bar an occasional hint to pay in your feed) as the paid version.