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RSS feeds are hugely powerful. They allow publishers to syndicate content automatically, whether this is a straight forward website update, or an audio update – like a podcast – or video. The app we’ve been looking at, Breaking News, however takes these feeds at their base level, and doesn’t really do a lot with them.
The idea is that you can enter a website, or RSS feed URL into the Breaking News app, and then you can view it within the Today widget, which is accessed by swiping down from the top of your screen. There, it’ll update with the very latest posts.
However, the problem with Breaking News is that it’s far too simple, and seems to rely too much on hope; a hope that a specific section of the site may have an RSS feed it can find. Let’s look at this example – say you want to add Buzzfeed to your list. That’s fine, you can do that, but if you’ve ever looked at how many posts Buzzfeed publishes, you might find other ones will get knocked out of the Today view pretty quick – especially as you can only view up to five stories at a time.
You’ll also find that many sites like this cover a lot of bases, and while we were able to find the RSS feed for BBC Health, for example, for Buzzfeed categories, like politics or videos, it simply couldn’t find them.
RSS readers like Digg Reader or Feedly are already vast and wide – and they can be great, and address a real frustration – which is having to visit dozens of sites to read articles. These RSS readers, pull everything into one app, and then users can read them without leaving the app. For Breaking News, however, open up a story in the Today view, and it’ll simply open the page in Safari. Want to see the next story? Go back to Today, open up the story, and Safari will come up again. It’s a cobbled, unintuitive experience.
The actual adding of feeds is fine in its approach, but limited in its delivery. You don’t have to add in the exact RSS feed (though you can for accuracy). If you want, you can simply enter the name of the website and the app will search for an RSS feed for it.
But this brings us back to the aforementioned problem – if the app says it doesn’t have an RSS feed for a specific section… well, you’re stuck. Most likely, with just the homefeed. This could be fine, and does pull in the very latest news – but it means there is a complete lack of control. We also kind of wished that you could categorize feeds in the app. But then again, we realized this isn’t really an atypical RSS reader. Which begs the question – what is it? And what’s it for?
Overall, the app takes a half-decent concept, and does a less than half-decent job. Technically, it dos exactly what it says it does, but each step of the way, you’re left questioning – well why not just use a proper RSS reader? The developers’ answer may be ‘simplicity’, but then other RSS readers can already be used in a simple way, and with many having now added Today view functionality, Breaking News has already found itself largely redundant.
Price: $2.99 / £2.29
Size: 7.6 MB
- Simple to use and setup
- Lacks functionality
- Difficult to track specific sections of websites
- Needs more in-app functionality