Developer: Alphonso Labs
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0.1

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Pulse is an RSS feed reader with a difference. Instead of generic text, Pulse pulls pictures and a quick summary of articles into a uniquely designed application.

Like all RSS related applications, a little customization is necessary before you can start to use it. Customization needs to be simple, quick and efficient. Pulse satisfies this with flying colours. Tap preferences up at the top left, then tap search or featured sources and add what you want – it’s really simple (just like RSS itself). The search itself works perfectly if you know what you’re looking for.

Within the preferences cog, you can also re-order the sources you’ve selected by using the Apple integrated three horizontal bars – just like in Stocks or Weather. Google Reader is located in here too, allowing you to log in and pull the RSS feeds you have from there onto the homescreen of Pulse.

Once you’re set up, you’re good to go. The front page itself, surprisingly, does not look overly crowded. Only three articles are visible from each source on the face of it, but a horizontal flick will reveal more articles. All have pictures with a translucent text bar at the bottom of them, where a (very) brief text summary is given – about eight words is all that can fit in the box – inevitable with Pulse’s design.

The articles themselves are designed excellently. A grey background removes any strain from your eyes in darker lighting areas, and the text is spaced enough so that it is easy to read but not so much that you wish it was adjustable. Clicking on links within articles reveals an inbuilt browser too. All articles can be shared via e-mail, twitter, facebook and sent to your Instapaper account. Pulse definitely is an RSS feed reader with a difference – I haven’t seen anything like it. It also makes use of the top status bar on your iPhone to notify you when it’s refreshing (but it does remove the battery symbol as it does this!).

Its front page design will make some think “wow, this is great” and others “where’s my normal text reader?” This was inevitable with such a unique design, and so personal taste rather than a review will determine whether or not you buy Pulse. On our iPhone 3G it did run somewhat sluggishly, but these problems disappear with the iPhone 4. There were also a few minor stability issues, with the infrequent crash, but nothing repetitive and we couldn’t trigger an unexpected quit.

As the App Store grows, so too does demand for unique applications like Pulse. Whilst its function is as old as RSS itself, its design is refreshingly new. But as someone who is just interested in getting the content and nothing else, I’ll stick with a text-based client.

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