App Review: Pulse

If  you’re anything like me, you keep up on the latest Android/Tech news by visiting a barrage  of technology blogs and websites every day multiple times a day, this is where Pulse comes in. Pulse is a beautiful app that gives you access to RSS feeds and syncs up with Google Reader, nothing new except for the beautiful part especially in the Android Market where a ton of apps assume this role yet leave out the eye candy  UI’s. Pulse however does it elegantly and makes something as simple as reading an article a joy to do so. It started as a highly regarded app for the iPad that Apple even gave some attention to at WWDC and then a month later was released to the iPhone and has had some great reviews.  Now its live in the Android Market and I’ve been very impressed with it and even more impressed to find out that its a product of 3 Stanford grads who’ve managed to build an elegant application for 3 platforms in such a small window of time.

At first launch, Pulse already has a list of feeds setup for your reading pleasure, well maybe for your pleasure but not mine as I quickly deleted the ones I could careless to read about, clicked menu and logged in to my Google Reader account. What I really like is that, though it syncs with Google Reader, I don’t have to have feeds show up that I am subscribed to on Reader but rather ones I pick and choose. Once you’ve selected the feeds you wish it to pull you can now manage the order of the feeds in the Manage Sources option after a menu click. Sliding my favorite feeds (in my case, Droiddog, Engadget and Gizmodo) to the top of the list was an easy intuitive task and even deleting was as easy as clicking the “X”, which is nice as clicking Menu or long pressing isn’t always the most efficient way of doing things. Adding sources outside of what you’ve chosen from Google Reader is easy enough and Pulse has nice selection of “Featured Sources”  if you just want to browse for a  new feed that might interest you.

Once your all set up, the app loads all the feeds into a list thats both scrollable up and down and side to side. The app loads thumbnails horizontally so that when under say the “Engadget” feed, I can scroll side to side to see articles that may interest me as well their accompanying photo’s, which is nice compared to a lot of RSS Readers all text utilitarian UI. Right from the main page with no scrolling I can see my top 3 feed’s latest 3 post for a total of 9 articles in view, which is great, the most info for the least amount of scrolling, yep I’m lazy. Once selecting the article you’d like to read, your given an ad free clutterless presentation with main picture in tact. Find an amazing article you want to share with all your Android Fanboys and girls? Its as easy as a menu button click and   your presented with option to “Tweet It”, “Facebook It”, “eMail Story” or if your into that sorta thing, “Open In Browser” ads and all. Getting to the next to the next story is an easy as swiping to the right or left and does so fairly smoothly and without lag. Below the article is an icon of the site your reading from which can be swiped up to reveal a similar side to side scroll bar of the other articles in the feed, again with thumbnails.  Jumping back is done by the hardware back button which is easy enough but seeing the addition of an option to quick jump to another feed would be nice.

Overall the app is very nice and loads pretty quickly however does studder and become a little wonky while the articles are still loading. The app has a little room for improvement in performance and features but from an overall stand point, I find it to be pretty amazing for a 1.0 release. Pulse is $1.99 in the Android Market and is also available in Apple’s App Store for both the iPhone and iPad (if your into that sorta thing).