Web App Review: Bloglines
Reading my news and RSS feeds on the go is important to me. Most people I know use Google Reader, and it is a fantastic desktop web application. However, I find the mobile version really lacking in features and functionality; this is where Bloglines (http://i.bloglines.com) comes in.
Bloglines really takes advantage of Apple's HIG's and gives a very integrated environment for your news. Keep in mind that this version of Bloglines is is still in beta...
(Ed Note - We've already welcomed Rene Ritchie to the fold, now we welcome Chad Garrett! Chad will be bringing us a software review each week -- with any luck at all he'll be able to move to reviews of real, honest-to-god, Apple-approved native applications very soon! Welcome Chad!)
When you log-in to Bloglines you ave given a few choices:
- Full Bloglines
Let's look at what each section does.
When you tab on feeds, you get a list of feeds broken out by folders you have organized on your desktop. You simply tab the feed you want and it "slides" the the left to reveal the articles related to that feed. The images and text are all formatted and can be flicked to the last article. When you are done looking at your feeds, there is a Home button at the bottom that takes you back to your list of feeds. If there are more feeds than what will fit on a page, then a More Items button appears.
Very often I come across an article that I want to read, but I know that Bloglines will mark the item as read. I have three options at my disposal to work around this issues:
- Tap the Unread link- this keeps the item unread, simple enough
- Tap the 'Pin' button- this will turn the pin red and keep in in the feed as read, but you can easily go back to the article on your desktop later.
- Tap the Email button- this option is great! It will launch the iPhone's email application and have the subject line and body of the message already filled out with a link to the article for you to send to anyone you want, very convenient!
Depending on how many feeds you have, or if you are looking for something specific, the search function in Bloglines is great. You tap search and are given the choice of searching by articles or by feeds.
Preferences gives you a few option to determine how you want Bloglines to behave. You can choose to turn the toolbar off (this removes the functionality to email or pin items). You can hide images, though I have not really found this to be much of an issue with EDGE, everything loads at a very acceptable rate. If you want, you can also tell Bloglines to open links in new pages or use skeezer to reformat the webpage you are visiting for a mobile device. I have not found much use for the later feature, since the iPhone can render complete web pages.
Overall I really enjoy Bloglines over Google Reader on the iPhone. I feel that Bloglines really delivers useful features that load quickly and are easily navigated by the user. The only negative issues I have had with Bloglines is when there are not unread feeds available, Safari will occasionally crash. This does not bother my though since I know that this version of Bloglines is in beta. If you want a great mobile news reader, you can't go wrong with this polished and functional tool.
Ratings (out of 5)
- Look and Feel: 5
- Navigation: 5
- Features: 5
- Reliability: 4
- Content is formated extremely well
- Lots of features
- Can't add feeds though the iPhone interface
- Sometimes crashes Safari when there are no feeds
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