Fresco News Review

Users of iPhones and iPads have more than a dozen of ways to catch up on the news they care about. If you just take a look at the iOS App Store you’ll see that there are thousands of apps dedicated to bringing you the latest news, and they tend to do that in numerous different creative ways. Even though I can understand those iOS users who like those traditional news apps that deliver full-length stories, I mostly enjoy in visual apps like Flipboard and Facebook’s Paper. These can be informative as any other, and they tend to be more popular with younger crowds.

Fresco News is one of the latest additions to the iOS App Store’s selection of visual news apps. This app entered the Store by promising to change the way we consume news and information on a daily basis, which intrigued many users and reviewers as well. As a big fan of Flipboard, I was very eager to try out Fresco News, hoping that I will add yet another useful app to my iPhone’s home screen.

Fresco News 2

Fresco News is completely free to download and use, and it doesn’t force you to create a new user account. This is something that I am always happy to see, since many iOS apps tend to create their own loyal user base by forcing us to sign up for accounts. It is always refreshing to see an app that allows you to freely consume its content, which is the case here. The first time you open this app you’ll see the “Recent News” feed. This is where you will be presented with the latest news, which are being pulled from all kinds of categories. Every story is being presented through a picture, and underneath you will get to see some short information on what that particular picture represents. If you are interested in reading a full story, you can get source links that are going to transfer you to a web site. Some stories will have source links attached, but sometimes you will be only presented with a picture. You will be able to browse different categories, or you can simply read “hot news” topics that are always going to be showed on the main screen.

The interface for Fresco News is very easy on eyes and logically organized. The color scheme is very dark, but this emphasizes the content. I would like to see other color schemes as well, since I know that people like to customize their apps and many will mind watching dark screen on a daily basis. The biggest part of the screen is reserved for the main image, while the text underneath has thin margins.

The only thing about Fresco News that I would like to see upgraded is the content. Even though the app comes with some very interesting articles, I have found myself wanting more. This app is still new, so I hope that its creators will continue adding more sources and bringing us more articles that are interesting and captivating.

 

Paper, by Facebook Review

If you’re a Facebook user (and the chances are that you are) than you’ve probably noticed that this website is currently celebrating its 10th birthday. This is not just a simple birthday video that you can create for yourself on your account page, but instead this is a very serious project for Facebook which is trying very hard to stay relevant.

There’s also another important side of Facebook’s progress and evolution, and those are mobile services which are trying to suck you into this giant social network. For example, there’s Messenger for staying in touch with your friends, Instagram is there to share photos, and now there’s Paper which can be used for reading interesting articles.

Paper, by Facebook 2

This article will tell you more about Paper, which can be downloaded from the App Store free of charge. You don’t even have to look deeper into the Store, since Apple has put this app on the front page for at least a few weeks now.

Paper can be seen as one of the Facebook’s attempts to offer new services without scaring existing users. In order to stay current, this social network is always working on enhancing and overhauling its appearance, and we all know that people can be scared of these things. Just remember all the bad comments about Facebook’s Timeline, or when News Feed was first introduced. Paper is also a new side of Facebook, but this one is optional and this is something that most people will appreciate.

Once you open Paper for the first time, you’ll get to choose labeled cards which are used to filter catered content. There are 17 topics to choose from, and you can also organize them according to your interests. What I liked about this UI layout is that you don’t have to see News Feed every time you open this app, which means that it’s not as aggressive as some other social network services. Gesture control is very intuitive, and you’ll have to swipe left or right to preview stories which can be opened by swiping towards the top. Once you open a new story, you’ll get to read it in-app. If you decide to share it, you can do it very quickly, which is what Paper is all about.

According to Facebook’s official statement, all the stories that you see via Paper are curated by real human editors. I believe in this, since I’ve found that many stories are very interesting and closely related to my interests. This is not the case with Flipboard (to take one example), where you can see the same article repeatedly many times, which means that its algorithm needs further improvement.

I believe that Facebook created Paper not just to offer yet another service, but instead to become a legitimate way to care about your social network account. This is certainly the best way to find numerous attention-grabbing stories and to share them with your friends. Besides this, Paper is still the way to see what you friends are up to, so there’s a very strong (but not as prominent) social side.

Outread Review

Have you ever wondered how much reading you do on a daily basis only by using your iPhone. I guess most people would be surprised by how much time they spend reading articles and browsing new apps, without even wondering if there’s a better way of keeping yourself focused on a material. Even though several last iPhone generations brought improved Retina displays which ease up eye strain, most of us still need to pinch and move in order to properly position text and read all at once.

In case you’re interested in finding a way of being focused on reading on your iPhone, there are quite a few applications in the iOS App Store designed to help you with this issue. Most of them are designed to give you a few lessons on quick reading, which improves your reading dexterity in the long run. One of those applications is Outread ($2), and you’re just about to find more about this skill building iOS app.

Outread 1

Outread is designed to help you improve reading speed by guiding your eyes using fast moving marker. This is the main principle of fast reading, which also makes you more focused. This means that you should improve your speed as well as comprehension of material you’re reading.

This application can pull articles from other iOS applications like Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability. You can also input any web articles by copying URL, but you can also copy a text file. This will automatically open up the article you want to read, and before pressing “play” you’ll need to set up a few parameters. As you can see from the pictures, you’ll be able to choose reading speed, which applies to how many words in a minute you can read. Start slowly, and I am sure you’ll gradually increase your reading speed, which is something that Outread can support by providing you with advanced level of fast reading. You can also choose how many characters the marker size should take, which is also something that you should be able to improve over time. Marker is actually a highlighted word which moves as you read the article, gliding from one word to another. Reading speed actually applies to how fast you want this marker to glide, which means that both of these parameters are interconnected.

Besides being able of choosing reading speeds and marker sizes, you can also change text size. I believe these are three main parameters that every fast-reading app should have, and Outread has done a good job of optimizing their performance. What I also need to mention is its minimalistic UI, which brings subtle color palette and fine animations. There’s also a nighttime reading mode, which turns the background black while coloring the letters white.

There isn’t actually anything that I would add to Outread. This is a very simple application, which can be highly useful. If you still haven’t tried any of quick reading techniques, I would recommend trying out this application which offers great first step in acquiring this skill.

Sputnik Review

By reading all kinds of user reviews around the web, I can assume that there’s a lot of people who are still searching for their new favorite RSS reader. I probably don’t need to explain that Google Reader left a huge hole that still needs to be filled, and this is something that many developers tried to do. As it turns out that this is not an easy job, and many RSS readers lost this battle.

In case you’re one of those who is still trying to find a suitable RSS reader, our website offers a number of informative reviews about the most popular applications of this kind. This is where you can find all about those applications, their positive and negative sides, and our general recommendation as well.

In today’s article we are bring you a review of Sputnik, which is yet another try to conquer the world of RSS readers. Sputnik is completely free to download and use, and there’s even Windows and Linux version as well, which is great for those who use their Macs with different platforms.

Sputnik 1

There are two main categories of RSS readers. You can find very simple and basic ones, and there are those which are very complex and bring sharing and social features as well. Sputnik is the simple one, which isn’t a bad thing. Simple RSS readers allow you to focus on articles and catch up on news and topics you care about, and they usually offer great performance as well.

From the first time I opened Sputnik on my OSX, I was intrigued by its nicely designed interface. The application is very light, in terms of its size, performance, and UI design. On the left side of the window you’ll be able to find your RSS sources sorted by categories. You can easily add new feed subscriptions by importing an existing OPML file, or you add feeds manually.

Sputnik is designed to let you read articles in a single page view. In case you right-click on an article you’ll jump to the next one, which is something that I needed to get accustomed to. On the other hand, this RSS reader is designed to work with numerous keyboard shortcuts, which is something that I always appreciate. It’s also important to say that all my articles were nicely rendered and I haven’t encountered any errors or glitches.

Another interesting thing about Sputnik is that you add tags to an article, but there’s no search available. You’ll need to go to All Feeds in order to filter articles by tags and find those that you were looking for. This is something that needs further improvement, and I would also like to see at least some basic search functionality.

In case you’re looking for a very simple RSS reader, I would recommend at least trying out Sputnik. There are some small quirks, but it works great and offers reliable performance. In case you need some sharing capabilities or integration with those “read later” services, than this application isn’t the one for you.

ReadKit 2 Review

ReadKitDuring the last few years, new technologies completely changed the way we consume digital content. Thanks to tablets, innovative touch interfaces are now mainstream and the most popular websites are now developing touch-friendly content. However changes are happening in the old-fashioned web browsing as well, which is a result of a huge amount of information we consume on a daily basis. This led to numerous web services which are there to help you save and filter relevant information, and serve you only those articles you’re interested in.

In today’s article we are going to review an application named ReadKit 2, which is designed to save articles which you can read later, and also functions as RSS client. ReadKit 2 can be purchased using the Mac App Store for $5.

ReadKit 2 1

ReadKit 2 is actually the second version of already very popular “read later” application, which received some much needed updates and performance enhancement. This application can be used on its own, or in combination with numerous web services which are used to archive articles and RSS feeds. For example, supported “read later” services are Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability. Supported bookmark services are Pinboard and Delicious, and supported RSS Feed services are Fever and NewsBlur, even though this application also has its own hand-coded RSS engine. It is also important to know that you can sign-up with multiple accounts per one service, so you can save all your bookmarked articles into one application. This way, ReadKit 2 should be seen as an ultimate “read later” depository, where you can read, delete, or archive articles and feeds.

Applications like ReadKit 2 requires a very clear and focus interface, since your attention should only be on reading an article. Even though this application offers numerous features and some advanced archiving functionality, you’ll be surely focused only on your articles thanks to its beautifully designed interface. You can also go to Preferences where you can set-up desired background color, making it ever easier on the eyes. You’ll basically see three main parts for ReadKit’s interface and those are left-positioned sidebar which shows (smart) folders, RSS feeds, and services you have applied for; Center-positioned column which shows your articles; And right-positioned reading pane. You can also use stripped view, where you can fully focus on reading an article.

ReadKit 2 is probably one of them most functional “read later” applications, mostly because it unifies numerous web services which all work great together. This is not something that’s easily achievable. You can easily drag-and-drop articles and move them between different services, and you can also delete, move, copy, and archive a certain article, or make it your favorite. This way, you also get to use tags and smart folders which are features made to help you sort out hundreds and thousands of saved articles. Having a reliable sorting and search features is essential for any “read later” application, and ReadKit 2 seems to be one of the best designed applications that I have encountered in a long time.