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iPad for Marketing App Review – Feedly

October 13, 2011

Feedly has been in the reader game for a while—and it shows. It started as a browser-extension RSS reader for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Now, it’s a free native iOs app (one of the few in the space) built for iPad and iPhone. There’s also a version that works on Android phones and tablets.

Feedly is simple and cleanly designed—and doesn’t leave you wanting more. It lets you quickly browse through your feeds, yet borrows some of the visual appeal of magazine-style readers. And it includes some of the personalization magic that makes readers like Zite so appealing.

While it’s powered by Google Reader, Feedly serves up cool content before you even sign into Google. It’s loaded with “essential” articles in categories that span from tech, business, and world news to cooking, do it yourself, and gardening. You can navigate content via the contents menu on the home page (aptly called My Feedly) or tap “my contents” on the bottom menu, which opens a sidebar on the right of the screen that displays all feeds and topic areas. Feedly takes advantage of iOS, letting users swipe down, for example, to mark all as read or swipe up to keep as unread. 

You can also search for additional sources by name or URL and choose between black and white themes.

Feedly syncs with Google Reader almost instanteously, faster than any other iPad reader app I’ve used. I added feeds on Google Reader and when I looked down at my iPad a second later, they were already there. That speed will probably appeal to feed-geeks who love now love Reeder (yet pay for it). Read items in Google Reader and they’re marked as read in Feedly (across all their platforms) and vice versa.

And, like Reeder, Feedly has the functionality you want in an RSS reader. It’s easy to like, save, email, Tweet, or post an article to Facebook. You can even log in with your Tumblr account to access your dashboard and read and like articles.

Despite its simplicity, Feedly doesn’t feel quite as stark as Reeder. The user experience echoes magazine-style readers like Flipboard as you swipe to navigate and you can add content independent of Google Reeder. Feedly also recommends new content with its “you might also like” suggestions. While this personalization isn’t as robust as Zite’s, it’s a cool way to discover new content.

Like so many of these reader apps, Feedly doesn’t do a great job (or any job) providing information for publishers. I could find any publisher-facing information on Feedly’s website so it’s unclear how you’d get your company onto the “essential” A list. And yet the essential categories provide the richest content—both written and visual—and the best user experience.

Publishers can enhance the reader experience (making feeds visually similar to “essential” feeds) by including images in their feeds.

For digital marketers, Feedly is yet another promising channel for reaching prospective and existing customers looking for information and news on your company—and topics related to it. Your only to-do: get your content into RSS format so that it can find its way to apps like Feedly.

The Final Verdict

The reader experience: A-. It’s clean, easy to navigate, and essential sections are beautiful.

The publisher experience: A-. Your customers should be able to read your feed either by adding it to Google Reader or searching for it within Feedly. If Feedly provided insight into how to make the essentials list, I’d bump it to a solid A.

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