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Pulse Goes Stationary With a Browser-Based Feed Reader

Pulse is a popular RSS feed reading app for iPad, iPhone, and Android, and today they’re expanding into browsers everywhere. The service, which launched on the iPad a couple of years ago and now has over 15 million users, is best known for taking your favorite news and media sites and transforming them into an interactive mosaic, And now they’re bringing that to the desktop browser.

Pulse for the Web works on all major browsers, and it looks to offer a much more visual interface than the leading feed reader, Google Reader. As you can see from the screen shots, Pulse offers an almost app-like interface. Rather than show the vast and confusing lines of text like Google Reader, Pulse shows this:

Depending on what you’re reading preferences are, that can really be an improvement. The images might limit the number of stories shown on the screen at once, but they also lessen the chance you’ll miss something important. I’ve found it very easy to miss stories in Google Reader; it’s easy to lose your spot while scanning over the lines of text.

The reading mode is also quite different from Google Reader:

The reader is supposed to work on all browsers, but it doesn’t seem to like Android or my iPad 2. While that’s not a big deal due to the existing apps, I’d still like to adopt the same interface across all devices. I doubt I’m alone in that.  Pulse did away with the layout they  used in their mobile apps, and in the new version your list of sources is now on the left and stories appear on the right. That change is part of the reason why I’d like to use the one app everywhere; switching back and forth is confusing (don’t get me started on the tablet version of GReader).

But in terms of the web app’s feature set, Pulse for the Web looks to offer much the same features as on their apps.You can of course share an account between the apps and the new Pulse for the Web. All your data on all the different platforms will always stay in sync, so you could save a link in the web version and then read the story in one of the apps. I already do that sometimes with Google Reader. I’ve found the Android version of GReader to be good at sorting through content I can skip but when i need to get back to work I switch back to my laptop.

I’m kidding in the title; this new web app is still somewhat mobile focused. It incorporates a number of touchscreen friendly features like swipes, 2 fingered swipes, and more. One swipe moves you to the net article, while a two-finger swipe brings up your reading list and you can use a pinch to close an article and go to back to the homescreen.

The touchscreen features were developed in partnership with Microsoft, and according to Pulse they’ll only work in IE10.  Apparently they depend on that browser to provide a modified touchscreen driver which recognizes the gestures. You’ll also need a Windows tablet, and that means hardly anyone will be able to use them. For all we know, they’re more MS vaporware (it’s not like we’ll be able to check).

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Xyzzy August 10, 2012 um 12:57 am

"much more visual interface….[r]ather than show the vast and confusing lines of text"

I’m probably in the minority, but I tried a similar interface on another web feed reader a year or two ago, and again on one of the visual bookmarking sites — and I find the pictoral approach to be the one that’s vast and confusing. I rarely can tell whether a post/article is one I want to read right away, later (or in really rare cases not at all) just by looking at a picture; seeing a subject line, especially alongside the site icon as in NewsFox, makes that task a great deal easier.

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