By: Steve Sande for Apple World Today
To stay on top of what's happening in the world, most bloggers rely on the same tool -- an RSS feed reader of some sort that can grab all of the latest headlines and other news about specific topics and present it in an easily-scanned format. There are a lot of different ways to do this; Apple's News app allows users to enter and follow RSS feeds, and there are a plethora of RSS news readers available in the App Store. A relatively new entry into the market is Mosaiscope (free with premium subscription available) from Enemy Tree, LLC of Longmont, Colorado.
A universal app for iPhone and iPad, Mosaiscope provides a window into two pools of information -- topics (like Apple) and sources (like Apple World Today). For getting information on a topic, one can simply select that topic and be presented with a pre-curated list of sources. When you already have a trusted source like Apple World Today, you can add it specifically to insure that you're getting the information from the source you like. Finding those topics and sources is as simple as tapping on a shopping cart button, then scrolling through a list of topics or sources.
Don't want to waste time searching for a specific source? A tap on the search button lets you search for topic, source or a hashtag.
Like many recent news readers and feed aggregators, Mosaiscope offers a magazine-like view complete with an image and the accompanying text. But with a tap on an "eyeball" button, the view can be changed to a list view (text only) or a full view that provides a full-size image followed by the first three lines of an article. The app works well in both portrait and landscape orientations.
Mosaiscope has a rather interesting business model: the app is free, but eventually you will be able to pay for a premium account that offers additional features. At this time, the premium services are free for new users to try out. So what are these premium features? First, Mosaiscope offers something called Email Subscribe that takes email newsletters, updates, and offers and turns them into "articles". It's possible to add and delete the emails that you'd like in your feed, and after 14 days all email content is automatically deleted.
Another premium feature is Power Sync, which makes sure that as you move from iPhone to iPad and back again, you're not seeing the old articles. Power Sync makes sure that everything is up to date, and it also increases the frequency of syncing with sources so that you see the freshest information. In a future version of Mosaiscope, a feature called Pinpoint Bookmarking will take this one step further, focusing on the exact word or punctuation where you left off the last time you were reading an article. The company also has plans to add Power Search and Power Views to an upcoming version of the app, although details on exactly what those features entail are somewhat vague.
So, what did I think of Mosaiscope compared to other apps like News, Feedly, Fiery Feeds and so on? I like the fact that it's possible to switch between viewing formats with a tap. I found the syncing capabilities to be lightning-fast compared to some of the other apps I use. But the thing that impressed me the most was the way Mosaiscope makes it easy to discover new topics and sources of information for inclusion. I didn't try out the Email Subscribe capability simply because my personal preference is to separate news and email-based newsletters, but at least Mosaiscope lets me make that choice.
There were a few cases where Mosaiscope seemed to be having issues with the UI - for example, it's possible to tap on multiple buttons at once -- store, view, and search, for example -- and get some really odd results like "Not available in store". Some of the curated topics are also just plain weird; why, for example, is there a Chicago Cubs topic but not a Major League Baseball topic?
That's essentially the bottom line with Mosaiscope - the app gives readers plenty of choice in terms of how they want to discover or read news, how they want to see that news, and even what device they want to read it on. It's speedy, bug-free, and Enemy Tree appears to have a long-range strategy for the app -- something that even Apple doesn't seem to have for its News app. While Mosaiscope might not appeal to every iOS user, it's definitely worth giving a try and at the present price point -- free -- downloading it to take a look is a no-brainer.