Developer: Prismatic
Price: Free
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4

iOS Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Re-play Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

It seems that, like the mousetrap, someone is always trying to build a better newsreader. While I’ve certainly got my favorites, I’m always on the lookout for a better one, and Prismatic: Always Interesting is certainly trying its best.

Prismatic starts off by offering to link-up with Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to find topics that a user is already interested in. It populates the newsfeed with articles related to these topics and then quickly gets out of the way. No navigation bars, no ads, buttons or other distractions. Then, once the user finds a story they like, Prismatic loads it full screen, relying on swiping gestures to return to the homescreen or main menu where new topics and feeds can be selected. Likewise, sharing, dismissing or liking a story is done through a pop-up menu that reveals itself when the user long-touches the screen.

Prismatic dedicates itself to keeping content fresh by removing stories from the main feed once they’ve been read. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t go for topics. Hearing about the same pro-athlete’s latest disgrace or other global news event again and again can be aggravating when I just want to see something new.

Speaking of global news events, Prismatic can find local news based on a user’s current location. News topics on foreign regions are easily added, as well. And even if a user doesn’t want local news, but has a particular source they prefer, they simply do a search for that region, topic, source, website or blog and add it right to their feed. Then there’s the ability to jump from topic to topic within the feed simply by touching keywords below each headline. Prismatic makes it very easy to explore, simply by looking for what a person finds most interesting. Oddly lacking, however, is the ability to add an RSS feed directly into the app.

Unfortunately, I found quite a few formatting and layout issues that made some articles impossible to read. Missing images, images overlapping text, missing captions, wonky formating that had gaps and extra lines inserted into text… Sometimes, I found the comments section of a page coming after the headline, forcing me to scroll to the bottom to read the actual article. One article was cut off in the middle of the second paragraph. It’s difficult to know whether I should blame the source or the app for the errors, as many articles might have unusual formating even at the source. Fortunately, all I have to do is tap the headline to be taken to the original page the story came from.

At its worst, Prismatic is a newsreader with some formatting and layout issues. At its best, however, it more than lives up to its name, providing an endless source of information that is pertinent, important and, indeed, always interesting.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad News, iPhone Apps and Games, News, Reviews

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