By Nate Adcock on Sun, 06/12/2011
I like Flipboard, but recently have started using Pulse, and in this review, compare it to the other great news and RSS aggregator/reader for iPad. Each is excellent in it's own way, though I must admit, the side-scrolling rows that Pulse collects your feeds into are perfect for quickly scanning through content. However, I like the large splashy news displays on Flipboard and the magazine-like page turning...ahhh, 2 awesome readers, so what's a geek to do..?! Use both...
Pulse is a freebie, like Flipboard (shown above), and you can grab Pulse here (Flipboard here). Both are fine reader software, but Pulse supports iPhone (and iPod touch) as well as iPad, and also has an Android app. Of the 2, it is my impression Pulse also offers more flexibility and features. Pulse now includes cloud services that will allow you to save your experience and enjoy it on other devices (go to Pulse.me). You have to sign up for a free login, or you can use your Facebook account.
Both Pulse and Flipboard make it very simple to add feed sources from your Google Reader configuration or from a catalog of popular news feeds. In a matter of seconds I had both configured and browsing my Google lists. It was also a cinch to move my feeds around in the page configuration I prefer. Flipboard doesn't make it quite so easy to customize your views.
I can't find any mention of cross-platform support for Flipboard, but you can save content to Instapaper.com (Pulse also has Instapaper integration). Pulse also sports integration with your Evernote account, which is a big plus for me since I use and rely a lot on this great web-note service. In fact, I now write most of my reviews on Evernote, and collate pictures there. My camera's WiFi card even sends product pictures to Evernote, which can then be included in my posts (but I digress). I have not tested the Pulse integration as of yet.
The main Pulse UI makes it super easy to scan news feeds in a film-strip kind of way. You can easily add your Google News reader feeds through the options menu, or add from a selection already populated in a handy categorized lists. You can also link to your favorite Twitter or Facebook content through Pulse, and respond to posts as well as easily share content on either in the main reader views. Pulse aggregates your feeds into page views which can be customized easily to your taste.
YouTube content (this is also true of Flipboard) that is embedded in your feeds will display natively in the viewing pane. When you select a feed item to view, the screen splits out nicely to the right, so you can continue to browse other posts in the same or related feeds. In the portrait orientation, full article content is displayed above the feed's film-strip. This is another feature that sets Pulse apart from Flipboard. It requires less navigation to peruse and read through material in this manner. You can also turn on full HTML viewing of the post, or a stripped down feed text and images view, and also adjust the text size.
So, if I had to pick only one, I would say... Well, I don't have to pick one (I can use both, and so can you if you have an iPad), but I think for the tech-addicted like myself that are ever trolling for the latest gadget news, Pulse is a somewhat better choice. If the layout and overall experience is something you prefer to be more like a traditional magazine format, you will likely be partial to Flipboard. Pulse is probably one of the best news and feed reader software I have yet found. Grab it here (for iPad) and here (for iPhone/iPod) on the app store.