Like the Android and iOS versions that preceded it, this version used the company's proprietary search technology to build intelligent responses and recommendations based on whatever topic or keyword search the user designates. By using HTML5 though, it now functions across all devices.
Users have always had the ability to mix and mash news into custom visual streams, but can now share these streams via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or email.
"Today we are taking a huge step towards making Taptu a universal tool for both discovering and sharing all your personal interests," said Taptu CEO, Mitch Lazar In the release announcement.
Here Cabume contributor and mobile app pundit on Star FM's The App Show, George Osborn, casts a critical eye over the new beta release.
Taptu, the Cambridge based social media and mobile search company, has just launched an HTML 5 web based version of its social reader application.
"What's a social reader?", I hear an imaginary person ask. Simply, it's a way of aggregating your news sources from the BBC to social media feeds in one handy and attractive place to turn web based reading into an enjoyable experience. Because, let's face it, trawling RSS feeds is an absolute horror at the best of times.
The aim of this web app is fairly simple: to let users coordinate the social feeds attached to their Taptu accounts on Android, IOS, Windows mobile etc to offer users a customisable and consistent experience from their laptop to smartphone.
And you know what, it works pretty damn well. After working my way onto the site and on to the IOS app, I was quickly able to sync my news sources across the platforms in return for my Twitter authorisation (and my soul, as the T&Cs probably quietly stipulated somewhere).
As an example of this, I decided to add the asinine, but hilarious, Failbook to my iPad feeds. Boof, in an instant it was accessible on my computer through the web app as if by magic. This kind of efficient working is absolutely crucial to any kind of cross platform, cloud based thingymabob (as no-one wants the hassle of it all falling to bits) so it must be said the execution of it was excellent.
On top of that, the actual core features of Taptu are impressively sound. Its promise to turn you into your own News DJ is an apt metaphor for the level of control and feeling of sorcery you have over the thing. Not only can you decide what types of feeds you want to access (say Sports for example), you can refine it down to selected news sources or blogs to ensure the content you're getting is exactly the stuff you want.
And in comparison to its principal rival in the social reading market, the US based Flipboard, this offers it some real leverage. Whilst Flipboard offers general news categories, it certainly doesn't allow this level of customisation or selection. It's a real 'pro' that Taptu has over its transatlantic rival and one it could exploit.
But to do so it has to improve one key area: its user interface. Let's be honest, it works perfectly well as an aggregator and does exactly what is required of it, but it's very Androidy to use. What do I mean by that? Simply that it pushes customisation and utility above operating with the panache and effortless ease of a really fabulously designed app.
And this is a big sticking point because a social reader has to be much more than a utility: it has to be something fun and engaging to use. Where's the fun in looking at lists of stuff and managing your news reading like it's the arse end of pre-season in Football Manager?
Especially when an app like Flipboard gets you flipping pages, tapping images and listening to Soundcloud as you go along with its award winning newspaper like user experience. When you're reading socially, it's meant to be fun. With Taptu, it can feel a little bit stilted at times
Ultimately then, Taptu delivers on all functional counts as a fantastic working social reader offering unbridled levels of customisation. It's a smart app as well and has real potential. But until it offers across its range a user interface that breathes real life into the wonderful mechanics on show, then it won't reach it's potential as a top notch social reader.
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