At WWDC 2010 I had the chance to sit down with designer Graham Clarke and developer Nick Takayama Glasshouse Apps, makers of the Early Edition RSS reader for iPad, to talk about their latest app, and their impressions of iPhone 4.
Glasshouse had previously made Barista and Cellar, fine coffee and wine-enthusiast apps for the iPhone, so an RSS reader wasn't obvious until you realize Clarke needed something to read while sipping his favorite beverages.
Takayama thought the visualization of RSS as a newspaper was a natural fit and he was surprised it hadn't been done before on iOS. Clarke was excited with the extra screen real estate offered on the iPad, not having to flow screens but just using the canvas.
With a background in print, and previous experience in web design, dealing with the challenge of flowing text -- whose content they don't know in advance -- into an attractive column-based layout was somewhat mitigated by having a single platform to work with (as opposed to several browsers across multiple OS to worry about).
Little functional gems like being able to scroll the content in the column-based preview before you tap into the whole article was a balance Takayama wanted to strike. Likewise, the decision to import Google Reader feeds as opposed to syncing them gave the Early Edition the advantage of speed and independence.
Moving forward, they've just released version 1.2.0 which greatly increases fetch speeds and responsiveness, and adds forward and back arrows for better browsing.
The Early Edition for iPad is $4.99 [iTunes link]