Developer: Phantom Fish
Price: $4.99
Version: 3.2.1

Design Rating: ★★★★☆
Features Rating: ★★★☆☆
Integration Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Byline is a third party Google Reader application, allowing you to read the latest news via RSS feeds in Google Reader. RSS, or really simple syndication, is a web feed that allows you to pull content from a website automatically (148Apps has multiple, see here). Google Reader allows you to add multiple RSS feeds into one, easy to view list of headlines. If you’ve got a Google account already, you’re good to go.

The design of Byline is slick and polished. It has folders integration, something that a number of rivals lack, allowing you to view a specific set of feeds that can be customized and organized online. The front page provides a list of folders, where a single tap will reveal its contents. Unread items are numbered according to each category as well as a general “unread” number at the top. Content can be viewed through each specific feed, by unread only and by oldest first.

The article directory is similar to Apple’s Mail application, with a blue circle at the left signifying unread content. The circular “>” chevron button to the right will forward you to the original article through Byline’s built-in browser. You can view a text-based summary of the article without having to load anything by tapping on an article. It is a limitation of RSS providers, rather than Google or Byline, with regards to not being able to view an entire article without going to the source directly.

Articles can be starred as favourites and notes can be added – both update on Google instantly. Byline provides Twitter, Instapaper and ReadItLater integration, allowing you to share articles to others or save them for future reading elsewhere. Additionally, articles can by sent by e-mail.

Orientation lock is provided for those whose iDevices were not compatible with the recent iOS4 update. Byline caches its articles and respective web pages whenever opening the application, meaning even if you have no data you’ll still have full access to your read. It didn’t cache all articles on our test, but those that were cached worked fine without any data connection.

Disappointingly, there is no search and, like other clients, you can’t add or remove feeds through the application. Other than this, the only problem I encountered was that the setting “Reformat [web pages] for Mobile” didn’t work on any of my feeds – a superficial problem that is bypassed by the original page loading.

Byline offer a free version of their application that is worth trying out first, as there are no limitations between it and the premium version. The only difference is the existence of ads. Overall, Byline is crisp and clean, providing you with an instant way to know what’s happening and where.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, News, Reviews

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