Early Edition: The iPad's best news reader?

Ready for the ultimate RSS reader for your iPad? The Early Edition turns drab feeds into a stylish-looking newspaper that's great for browsing.

If it looks like a newspaper and reads like a newspaper, it must be a newspaper, right? Actually, The Early Edition serves up RSS feeds. Beautifully. Rick Broida

When people ask me how I like my new iPad and what I'm using it for, I answer as follows: "I like it, and I'm using it mostly for reading."

Not books--I still rely mostly on my iPhone for that--but news. As a news reader (and surrogate newspaper), the iPad rocks.

And for actually doing the reading, one of my favorite iPad apps so far is The Early Edition. (A big, big shout-out to reader Hanoveur, who recommended it when I asked which iPad apps I should install first .)

In a nutshell, The Early Edition aggregates your favorites news sources and presents them in an attractive, familiar-looking newspaper format. It's what happens when high-tech meets old-school.

The app comes with about a dozen news feeds already configured. The default All Feeds view generates your "newspaper" from all these sources, though you can tap any one of them to view just that source. 

As with actual newspaper apps, tapping any story brings it to the fore. However, if the story includes a "read more" page break, you'll get only the first portion. You can tap through to read the entire article, but that takes you to an embedded browser view of the actual Web page, thus killing the newspaper "feel" of the experience.

The Early Edition's newspaper convention gets lost if you "tap through" to a full story, but it's still a fun way to read. Rick Broida

That's a minor gripe. A bigger one is with The Early Edition's method for adding feeds: You have to enter each RSS link manually. There's no search option, and no way to import feeds from another reader. Plus, the app isn't smart enough to ferret out a site's feed if you enter just its URL (like, say, www.iphoneatlas.com).

Consequently, adding feeds is a major pain. At best, you have to look them up in Safari, then copy and paste them into The Early Edition. But if you're dealing with a site that doesn't have a copyable RSS feed, you'll have to hit your PC, find the proper link, then type it in manually. Bleh.

Fortunately, all that's soon to change. According to developer Glasshouse Apps, The Early Edition 1.1 will let you import from both Google Reader and OPML sources. Also, the app will "discover" the proper feed when you enter a site's URL. Another upcoming feature: the option of organizing your feeds into groups.

It'll be 1-2 weeks before this update gets submitted, Glasshouse says, so it could be upwards of a month before it's actually available. My advice: don't wait. The Early Edition offers the single best RSS-reading experience on the iPad to date. It's well worth the $4.99 price of admission.

 

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