If you’re looking for a stylish RSS reader that integrates your social networking feeds, you might think that Flipboard is your one and only option. Not true. Taptu is a beautiful RSS reader that presents all of your feeds with smooth side-scrolling, wrapped in a glossy package that’s as cool to look at as it is smart and functional. It’s a must-own.
Flipboard‘s great. I’m not knocking it. But I think more people have been excited by its potential than its current implementation. It’s clean and smooth, but it’s also downright plain.
Taptu has already realized its potential, and it just keeps getting better. It maximizes its space by presenting your feeds as different rows. A built-in “StreamStore” provides dozens of available feeds (they’re all free despite the name, and more are being added all the time), and you only need select the ones you want. Scroll down to look at your various feeds; scroll a row sideways to look through current entries. Entries are presented with an intuitive mixture of images and text, with each individual entry occupying a space about the same dimensions as a book cover or movie poster. When your iPad is turned to vertical orientation, this creates a “tall bookshelf” effect, with each entry acting like a book on your shelf.
Instead of going right to a website, tapping on an entry takes you to a bare bones look at the entry’s full text and embedded images. Some might be disappointed by this, but I find it rather welcome, since loading images from graphics-intensive websites can take quite a while on the iPad. Taptu streamlines the news reading process, making it quick, easy, and (surprisingly) fun. You can go straight to a full website if you choose, though. You can also share to Facebook, Twitter, or email, you can bookmark your favorite articles, change an entry’s text size, and more.
On the right-hand side of the main screen, there’s a default feature that shrinks down additional feed entries to a much smaller size, and shows you their tiny thumbnail. As you scroll a feed to the left, those smaller thumbnails grow and are added to the row, using an animated shuffling action that’s very slick. (You can easily turn this effect off if you don’t want it.) You can even resize your feeds with a simple dragging option; make the rows fatter and each thumbnail entry grows in size, allowing for more details to show.
Adding new feeds is very easy, and you’ll find tons of well known news agencies and blogs to choose from, broken down into categories. Most categories also have combined feeds, curated by Taptu itself, that compile the feeds of around 20 different sources. And if you find yourself with too many feeds on your list, you can mix-and-match your own (which Taptu refers to as “DJing your news”) combined feeds. You can also import any RSS feed you like as long as you have a Google Reader account. Refreshing a feed works exactly as it does in Twitter’s app: you simply drag a feed to refresh it.
With so much customization available (you can even set the background color of each feed/row to your own liking), so much ease of use, and so many snazzy effects, Taptu belongs in the top tier of iPad apps (it’s also available for iPhone and Android, but the iPad is its best home, thanks to all the extra space). It’s exactly the kind of application the iPad was created for, taking full advantage of everything the iPad does right.