The Early Edition is an RSS reader for the iPad with an important distinguishing twist. While other newsreaders render new story items as unread emails, Early Edition approaches such tidbits as articles in a virtual newspaper. The application's magic is in the way it compiles news from numerous sources, formats and media types into a cohesive and very traditional newspaper look-a-like experience.
The developers obviously spent considerably effort to massage the ability of unknown feed contents to be so seamlessly blended into the newspaper article look and feel constraints. Fetching feed updates was just as fast as other RSS readers I've used and the options available to stories (open the link in Safari, copy the link, send it in the body of an instantiated email message or use the Instapaper service to read at a later time) was more than I expected.
The version I tested was the recently released 1.20, which made several performance improvements. Since I didn't have the chance to use the application before this release, I can't comment on the perceived enhancements, but I can honestly say that this release seemed as speedy and functional as any other network-enabled iPad application I have used.
Additionally, versions prior to the 1.1 release did not support feed import from any other means except manually entry. For someone with more than 20 feeds, this could have been a major hassle. Fortunately with the latest version, multiple input methods are available to users, from manual entry to import of OPML files and even obtaining RSS feeds defined in a user's Google Reader account.
Carrying the newspaper metaphor further, feeds can be categorized into different sections of the 'newspaper'. Using existing categories or entering your own are intuitive, as is the removal of the sample feeds used to jumpstart a user's RSS collection. Fetched articles can be viewed in four different filter types: Last Fetched, Today, All Dates and Previous Editions. So in addition to capturing the latest updates, Early Edition archives articles that can be called upon for retrieval at a later time. Clicking on an article's synopsis expands to a full page, complete with embedded, well-flowed graphics if available. Anyone who has streams of large feeds knows how challenging it is to find a story buried in dozens or hundreds of read articles. Using these filters, finding that story is effortless and the presentation is slick, intuitive and beautiful.
I use my iPad every day, but I only use a handful of iPad apps with the same frequency. Before Early Edition arrived, I relied on Safari's built-in RSS feed consumption ability to keep me posted on the latest Internet streams of information. That reliance has been eclipsed by Early Edition. In fact, it has become such an integral part of my iPad interactive usage that I have placed the program's icon on the coveted real estate of the iPad icon dock. Early Edition is an excellent application that I highly recommend to any news hound or fan of RSS feed aggregation. It's top notch. And given how polished and well executed Early Edition is, I am eagerly awaiting future iPad offerings from the Glasshouse Apps team.
Product: The Early Edition
Developer: Glasshouse Apps
Price: $4.99 US
Rating: 5/5 stars