There’s probably no way to do a good universal RSS app for the iPhone and iPad: the two devices have vastly different screen sizes and convey vastly different amounts and types of information. Readlines, a $1 offering from Concept Cache, proves the folly of trying to kill two RSS birds with one stone.
Readlines’s concept is probably best-suited to the iPhone. You’ll first need a Google Reader account to use the app, which doesn’t display the full text of your RSS feed, instead filling the screen with the headline of a particular post. Double-tap the headline, and you’re taken either to an in-app browser or to Safari—you indicate your preferences in the settings—to view the full post. Although posts were slow to load in an earlier version of the app, a recent update to Readlines has solved that problem.
On the iPad, a screen filled by a single headline makes a bit less sense. One way the concept might be useful: the app can be set to randomly rotate posts—if you’re somebody who likes to have your tablet propped up next to your desktop computer during office hours, the option provides a personalized version of the “crawl” of news nuggets across the bottom of cable network screens.
But if you’re simply wanting an efficient RSS reader to help you efficiently plow through your feeds on the iPad, Readlines is not it. Save this purchase for your iPhone alone.
[Joel Mathis is a freelance journalist and political columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. He lives in Philadelphia.]