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iPad for Marketing App Review: Pulse News

July 12, 2011

The Pulse News reading application is just that: a nice interface for snacking on news you choose. The app is rapidly gaining traction, growing its user base from 200,000 in November to more than four million today. It’s also one of the apps in the App Store Hall of Fame. Pulse is one of the few cross-platform news reading apps. It’s factory installed on the Samsung Galaxy Tab and available for the iPhone. Last month Pulse announced it secured $9 million in series A funding. While the amount is well short of the $50 million recently raised by rival Flipboard, it signals that Pulse News is a serious contender in the space.

While the magazine format of Flipboard invites readers to sit down and enjoy a cup of Joe while flipping through content, the Pulse reader seems better suited for nibbling news. The filmstrip UI lets readers quickly zip through stories from each content source. To refresh, readers simply pull the strip all the way to the right and then let it snap back. A pretty cool UI touch.

When readers tap a story, Pulse provides a summary in a split screen. Tap either the article title again or the “Web” tab at the top of the article to display the original article in a web browser (still within the Pulse app). After enjoying Flipboard’s beautifully rendered pages, I felt a little cheated that Pulse gives the same browser reading experience as a PC – except in a nice, tidy iPad app wrapper. It makes Pulse feel a bit like an index, albeit a pretty one.

 

Even so, like Flipboard, Pulse offers another way for your company to reach its most engaged customers and prospects. If someone chooses to pull your company’s feed into Pulse, chances are they’re interested in what you have to say.

So just how does a reader get your company’s content into their Pulse app? Right now, readers can add and delete up to 60 sources on five configurable pages in a few ways. They choose from featured sources (Groupon, New York Observer, Apple News, Android News, Daily Intel, and more) or browse sources by category (Business, Entertainment, Fashion, Food, Gaming, News & Analysis, Politics, Social, Sports, and Technology to name a few). If readers want to find a particular news source, such as your company blog or Twitter feed, they can search by feed URL (a distinct advantage over Flipboard) or by keyword. The search quality is okay, but not great. I had trouble finding a few feeds. However, readers that don’t find the content they want through the search capability can pull any RSS feed they want into Pulse from their Google Reader.

In short, if your company has an RSS feed, it’s accessible to the rapidly growing Pulse user base. How you become a featured source is unclear. Pulse’s website provides an email address for publisher queries, but no information on partnerships.

 

 

 

 

The Final Verdict

 

The reader experience: B. While the filmstrip and split screen concepts are cool, I didn’t enjoy reading the original web page. I expect an iPad app to take better advantage of the platform.

 

The publisher experience: B+. Pulse seems focused on consumers, not publishers. However, because Pulse is a true RSS reader, if you have an RSS feed, you’re in luck.

 

 

 

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