Highly Visual ($1.99) by Rob Chia is a blog reader that focuses on the imagery provided by the blogs that you read. Find something interesting to read by selecting a picture that entices you.
Users start by choosing a list of topics that interest them the most. Pick your favorite categories from architecture, art, design, fashion, photography, food, products, and more.
Once you’ve picked your topics, the app will generate a list of blog postings that are relevant to the categories you added. The postings will usually be represented with the main image that is used. However, some blogs won’t have a main image. The post will then appear with its headline instead.
If you see an image (or read a headline) that looks interesting, tap it. You’ll get a closer look at the image. You can then tap again to read the blog post that it the picture relates to. The background is transparent so you can still see the image underneath.
If you want to see more images from that particular post, you can visit the Web page by taping the navigation icon at the top. You can also add the post to your Favorites list, or share it through Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, or email a link. You can also save the image in your device’s photo library.
The app generates new blog posts based on all of the categories you have selected. However, you can organize your reading experience by selecting specific categories to read separately. For example, if you are following art, fashion, and food, you can tap the menu icon to select one of those categories to view separately. You can also see the postings of specific websites, like the Food Network or ELLE.
You can also import your favorite blogs from Google Reader. I’m not sure how the developers will deal with this feature when Google Reader shuts down. But, for now, you can choose as many websites from your Google Reader feed to add to the list of posts that are generated for you.
While this app looks very nice, it doesn’t offer a good selection of websites to discover. It loads very slowly and tends to focus too much on only a few categories.
For example, one of my topics was “food.” Under the “Everything” list, about 98 percent of the posts were from food-related websites, even though I also had art, photography and crafts as topics that I follow.
Additionally, the app only shows the main image of any given article. So, if the original post had multiple pictures, you will have to navigate to the original website in order to see the full post.
While the design of the app is very aesthetically pleasing, the content leaves much to be desired. The swiping gestures are smooth and elegant and the transparent background is nice to look at. However, I prefer my reader apps to work harder to give me the stories I am interested in and this app lacks the technology to create a useful aggregator. For the price, I recommend being wary of this lackluster blog reader.