iPhone owners looking to read RSS feeds on the go have a new option.
Josh LowensohnFormer Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Mippin, a mobile feed reading service I looked at back in late 2007, has undergone a world of change in the last 10 months. On Tuesday night, the site is launching a new version aimed specifically at iPhoneusers--a growing segment of the market which will soon be even larger with the forthcoming release of the 3G model.
This new version follows in the footsteps of older iterations, but has been tweaked to fit the screen a little better, as well as deliver an overall performance increase in page load times. The company has also laid the groundwork for an upcoming recommendation system (launching in just a few weeks) that will learn from and adapt to your daily reading habits to give you suggestions of blogs and stories you should be looking at. This new system is based not only on keywords and previous reading history, but what other users have been reading and subscribing to.
Earlier Tuesday, I spoke with Mippin co-Founder Scott Beaumont about this new version, along with what's changed since I last looked at the product. Beaumont says that in 10 months Mippin has gone from covering 1,500 to 2,000 sites to tracking more than 92,000. From those, it's accumulated 12 million articles that can be searched in Mippin's story index.
One other thing that Beaumont is really excited about is how Mippin now handles the media found in blog posts. Besides pictures, audio and video regularly make their way into blog posts. Mippin would previously ignore this type of content. The new version will now convert Flash videos via a third-party service (in the background while you continue to browse), as well as natively play any audio files that have been embedded in posts. I gave it a spin on a non-YouTube video earlier--and while slow on EDGE it should be fairly nimble on the newer 3G handset or a hearty Wi-Fi connection.
The company has put together a comparison video of reading an RSS feed in Mippin compared with how long it takes to visit the normal page using gadget blog Engadget as a control. They're calling it the Pepsi challenge, but I think a far fairer comparison would be to stack it up against Google Reader for the iPhone, which can accomplish a similar feat albeit without the back and forth buttons to skip articles.
Another major difference between the two is that you can set Mippin up to act as a mobile Web start page, with a select group of feeds you want to read, along with customizable content Widgets (a la iGoogle). Google Reader mobile offers no such feat, but does let you open up several articles at a time on the same page. Beaumont says the team is working on an upcoming developer platform to let people create widgets for the start page element of the site, and share them in a centralized directory--something that should be popping up in the future.