Overview

Byline allows you to read blogs and news stories from websites you’ve subscribed to via your Google reader as it automatically syncs and alerts you of new RSS feeds. It will even save the web content on your phone so you can view them offline. This is great because then you can read them when you’re in a subway or on a plane or deep in the woods or… buried in a coffin in an unmarked grave in Mexico. Hey, you gotta pass the time somehow- and it helps to take your mind off your current predicament.

Features

  • Reading Can Be Fun!

Byline has two-way syncing, so notes you make in the app will be synced with your public Google reader page. After you read a feed, you can star it, which saves the feed in a starred items folder. From your Google reader account, you can create separate folders for all of your subscriptions, (if you haven’t already done that.) Those folders are then synced as well.

  • Offline Browsing?!

In the settings, you can set up what you want the app to archive for offline reading. It can store up to 200 feeds from each of your folders- but get this… it also archives the webpage the feed links to so you can read the entire story any time from the app’s built in browser. I have to admit, that’s pretty nifty. And yes, it archives the images as well, so you get all the pretty pictures you’d hope for. Aww…

Breakdown

The Good:

In all fairness, I’m not a blog subscriber. I read a few, but I’ve never subscribed to any of them because honestly, I just don’t care enough to. My day is unaffected if I happen to miss a story. So, I’m probably not the kind of person that would care about this particular app. What I’m saying is, I had no practical use for this.

But in order to give Byline an honest shot, I did the unthinkable… I created a Google reader and… GASP… subscribed to several blogs and news feeds! Yikes! I know, I know… I set up folders to help separate all of the feeds and I told Byline to sync it all up. And it did. And I was impressed.

It is kind of cool to get automatic updates from these blogs- and it’s pretty sweet to get them on my phone. (I was more excited about the L.A. Times news stories feed than the celebrity gossip. I swear.) It’s also pretty cool that it archives the webpage in all it’s glory. This came in very handy the other day when I repeatedly needed to reference a story on the front page of the L.A. Times. Two quick taps and it was right there at my fingertips. The app works in both portrait and landscape mode, making the websites much easier to read.

The Bad:

Because I’m not the kind of person who reads instructions or watches tutorial videos (I’m fair and balanced!), I was pretty aggravated at first when I couldn’t figure out why the feeds were disappearing from Byline, but they were right there on my Google reader page. Then I found out that after you read an item, it’s deleted from the app. You can turn that feature on or off in the settings. So, I guess this really isn’t a “bad” thing, per se, but… it made me mad. So, I’m putting it here. I also realize that if it didn’t delete the feeds after they were read… I’d have a lot of damn feeds. So, if there’s one that I want to keep- I star it.

I can see Byline being another app that’s going to try to pry away even more of precious, dwindling time. Whether or not I’m willing to get into the whole RSS subscription thing is something I’m not entirely sure about. Do I really need to spend more of my time reading things that (usually) have no relevance to my life? Probably not. Again though, this isn’t a knock against the app. They’re merely providing a service to make it easier to stay on top of all that. I guess what I’m saying here is that I didn’t see anything “bad” about the app. Maybe if I was more into that whole thing I’d have more to complain about- but since I’m new to it all… it did everything I expected/needed it to do.

Although- Ooh! I got something… I wish I could create folders in the app instead of on my Google reader page. It would be nice to have the power to organize and sort on the go, as opposed to having to do it from your computer, or from your iPhone’s Safari browser. (If you’ve been reading my other reviews, you know that’s something that I’m a fan of. Organization!!!!) Hey, how about that? I found something to complain about! I rule!

Verdict

If you’re a subscriber to blogs and news feeds, then this app will probably make you very happy. I saw in the user reviews that people were asking for a “mark all as read” feature, and that feature is there in the folders, so that should also make you happy. Is this worth five bucks? I don’t know. I wouldn’t use it that often to justify dropping that much money- but again, I’m not their demographic. I will say though, this is a solid app. If you’re a cheapskate, add Byline to your App Sniper app and buy it when it goes on sale.