Building a good library of apps for your iPhone and iPad is essential to getting the most enjoyment from these great devices, but sometimes all that’s required to cover a particular need is a pair of apps that compliment each other perfectly. In this case, we’ve got two that will help iPad owners keep up to date with the latest news and the newest online videos. Best of all, they’re both free to download.
First up we’ve got Vodio, a newly released app designed to keep you up-to-date with video content from around the Web, but more importantly, to customise the selection to your preference. Upon opening up the app, you’re presented with a carousel of video channels, covering subjects such as music, entertainment, sports and movies.
In addition to these more standard sections, there’s the chance to add more unusual channels too, including one from Unicef, TED and even the insane team at Will It Blend? Each category is also broken down into more specific sections, with ‘Comedy’ containing Vodio’s own curated sections or individual feeds from sites like Failblog, The Onion or I Can Haz Cheezburger.
You can choose up to ten channels to feature in the carousel, which does limit the selection slightly, but you can subsequently remove ones you’ve watched or become tired of in order to add others.
Swiping through the carousel brings back memories of The Daily‘s navigation system, and it’s equally as smooth and responsive here. Scrolling up and down within a channel shows all the available videos, and a tap accesses each one for viewing.
The videos appear in fullscreen, with options to share them on Twitter or Facebook, plus some basic information about the video itself. Vodio has a YouTube-like thumbs-up-or-down system for liking a video, which then assists in bringing more relevant content forward in your main list.
Although it’s the pretty carousel that will gain the most attention, it’s other features that make Vodio so much fun to use, like swiping a video aside to advance to the next without returning to the main page, or using the tab on the right-hand side of a video to reveal an inch-wide version of the carousel again.
It’s a shame then, that this intuitive and enjoyable navigation couldn’t have been repeated when trying to alter your video channel subscriptions. The natural move is to tap subscribed channels to unsubscribe, but this doesn’t work and you actually need to go to an edit page under My Vodio, then individually deselect them. It even chucks you out after each one, making the whole process very laborious.
With luck, this will be fixed in a future update, as it detracts from an otherwise great app. We’d also like to see the chance to add our own feeds, as at the moment the content is very US-centric, and it would be great to swap say, CNET for CNET UK for example.
By simply bringing many of the great video content creators together in one place, Vodio made itself a worthy download, but by adding a superb interface for browsing through them, it should be considered essential.
Pulse News for iPad
So you’ve got your video channels all sorted out, but you want an equally good-looking and intuitive app for taking care of articles, blog posts, news and your social networking feeds. Well look no further than Pulse News, another free application that makes browsing your favourite websites easier and quicker than before.
Pulse has been around for a while and has continued to evolve during this time, adding sensible and helpful new features with every upgrade. Here’s how it works: You’ve got five sections to fill with RSS feeds from your favourite sites, selected either from a Pulse-certified list or chosen from an extensive search feature. Each list can contain twelve feeds.
The main screen then shows left-to-right sliding lists of recent content from those sites, where a tap opens a window on the right in landscape mode, or from the top down in portrait, with the article ready to read. You can choose to read it in plain text or in original form, share it via Twitter, Facebook or email, or add it to a feature called Pulse.me.
Pulse.me is something like Read it Later or Instapaper, where ‘favourited’ articles are stored in a central location and then made available though Pulse’s web interface or on the iPhone version of the app. This adds another dimension to an already fantastic RSS reader.
Pulse is an incredibly versatile app because you can search and add pretty much any site with an RSS feed, and when you consider that not only includes text articles that Pulse collects, but everything from Reddit‘s front page to images from sites such as Flickr and Instagram, the maximum of 60 pages can be reached very quickly.
By signing in with your Facebook and Twitter IDs, your streams can be added too. Pulse is clever enough to only grab those posts containing links to external pages, avoiding any noise and making sure you don’t miss any important articles.
While apps such as Flipboard get a lot of attention, in reality it’s Pulse that truly explores the iPad’s potential as a reading companion. It’s free for both the iPad and the iPhone.
Just like sitting down with the newspaper after a day’s work has been a habit for millions of people, firing up Vodio and Pulse to catch up with the online world will become the same for iPad owners. The both streamline what was a fairly time-consuming process, and make the experience enjoyable, fun and easily shared with friends. Add them both to your collection now.