Pulse News is a news reader app for the iPad developed by Alphonso Labs, a company founded by two Stanford graduate students. They developed the app in just four weeks for an entrepreneurship class. Pulse is intended to be a news reader unlike other RSS or news aggregating apps out there, eschewing regular RSS feed links and other traditional ways of adding news sources for browsing. Pulse is currently awaiting approval to get into the App Store and we took a quick look at the latest build.
When you first open the app, you’re greeted with a helpful tutorial screen overlaying the main view. While the app doesn’t have so many controls or settings to make it confusing without this tip screen, we still appreciate a little direction up front to get to know an app.
Tapping through brings you to the news view, which works in both landscape and portrait orientations, of course. A few sources are pre-loaded for you so you have some content to browse right away, though you can remove and edit these to suit your tastes.
Adding a source is differently than on any other RSS feed reader app we’ve encountered. All you do is enter keywords to find sources and you’ll be presented with some search results. This is where things get interesting. Entering a URL will get you nowhere and prompts a “no results found” error.
When we entered “Apple rumors” as keywords, we were presented with search results including some of our favorite related sites, though not nearly as many as we expected.
Adding a found source is as easy as tapping on it. The order of sources can also be changed easily to change what you see first as you scroll through news stories.
Articles from selected sources are shown in horizontal strips that can be scrolled through with the flick of a finger. Sources are stacked vertically and you scroll up and down through all sources to find the one you want.
Tapping on a news story slides the news list panel to the left and shows the selected piece on the right side, and this can be toggled between text and web views.
There’s a handy pop-up menu when viewing an individual story that allows you to share it via Facebook, Twitter, or email.
While a traditional RSS reader is usually about consuming as much content as possible, Pulse is all about leisurely enjoying your daily news, with a cup of coffee.
We certainly found this to be the case. Pulse News is visually appealing and lends itself to a more relaxed news reading experience. If you’re hardcore about getting as much news as you can find and reading it as quickly as possible, Pulse will probably frustrate you. Though if you have some time on your hands and want to enjoy your news in a “no pressure” fashion through a pleasant and appealing interface, Pulse will do you just fine.
Alphonso Labs has posted a demo video to show how the app works:
Pulse News will cost $4 when it becomes available in the App Store.