About a year ago I discovered a true treasure: Blogs. No, I didn’t find out about them a year ago. Just like everybody else, I had been reading some of them here and there. Sure, I had a few bookmarks on my work & personal laptop. But I never really got into the habit of actively leveraging the awesome, inspiring and educational content many blogs offer us today. I never systematically participated in highly valuable discussions around certain posts that cover topics that are important to my job and personal life. And that is really too bad. Many of my friends and colleagues are running into the same issues. But the iPad and some awesome apps changed that. Here are some ideas for you to get started with enjoying the valuable content.
“The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.” Shawn Achor
The biggest hurdle for me to really enjoy blogs was the process of sourcing the content. Bookmarks here and there didn’t do it for me. I tried loading a few RSS Feeds into my mail program but that didn’t work either. Google Reader did a somewhat decent job for a while but I do not usually enjoy reading on my laptop. Plus, I spend so much time on the road. But the iPad started offering some amazing Blog Readers. These apps allow you to easily subscribe to your favorite blogs and to take the content with you. Even offline. The apps basically automate the sourcing process. Suddenly I had access to valuable blog content even while sitting on an airplane. And that is what did it for me. Today, I read a ton of blogs on a daily basis. What apps are there? Well, I use three different ones. And I am not quite sure yet, which app is my favorite.
The Early Edition looks and handles like a regular newspaper. You can literally sit down every morning with your coffee and read your personal blog and newsfeed paper. New blog posts and news are easily identified. Navigation is intuitive. The layout is very simple but effective from my point of view. All synchronized content is available offline (except for photos and graphics). The app is pretty fast overall. However, subscribing to new blogs is a bit tedious: You have to know the feed address and copy it into the app. This app currently costs USD 4.99 making it one of the more expensive readers.
Pulse is one of the most popular readers (it’s currently free!) But I am still warming up to it. The interface looks sophisticated but it is a bit too loud for my taste. There is a lot going on which impacts the reading experience. On the other hand, subscribing to new blogs and newsfeeds is super easy: there is a catalogue and you can search for specific blogs. The original setup process is therefore a lot easier than with the Early Edition. You can also add Facebook updates to the reader. Content is available offline but without pictures and graphics.
Blogshelf is an app that I just recently added. I was a bit frustrated with the fact that Early Edition and Pulse do not synchronize photos and graphics for offline use. Blogshelf fixes that issue and even allows you to save certain pictures to your photo collection. The app has a clean interface that looks and feels like iBooks. Searching for new blogs and other feeds is extremely easy and pleasant. It took me under five minutes to get the app up and running with my content. But organizing blogs is abysmal. The other two readers are much better at that. Identifying new blog posts requires you to scan through your entire bookshelf and to look for little orange triangles on the different subscriptions.
If you own an iPad or a smartphone, take a look at these iPad Blog Readers. My personal favorite is still Early Paper but I am slowly migrating towards Blogshelf because of the ability to view the entire post (with graphics) in offline mode. All apps have definitely made a huge difference for me. There are some excellent blogs out there and it would be a shame to miss engaging with the content and/ or the authors. These apps lower the hurdle towards actively reading and following the blogs. And of course: Make sure to subscribe to this blog! Let me know if you have other iPad Blog Readers and experiences to share.
UPDATE – September 2012
Things have changed since the original post. Blogshelf is no longer available in the app store. It still works on iOS 6, although it does crash often. The Early Edition has received a major make-over and looks better than ever. You can also export all your feeds and import them easily to Google Reader. This app is by far my favorite. Pulse has improved dramatically as well. However, it only allows 60 feeds. I do follow a ton of blogs and this is not enough for my only personal taste.