Alien Blue, my favorite iPhone app to access Reddit and see what the Internet has been up to, was updated to version 2.5 a few minutes ago. I have been beta testing the new version, and users of Alien Blue (which also comes in a separate “HD” version for iPad) will be pleased to know that several old annoyances have been fixed, and new features introduced to make browsing Reddit from an iPhone a much more pleasant experience.
Alien Blue, developed by Jason Morrissey, comes with a $1.99 in-app purchase that unlocks additional functionalities of the app including Canvas, a way to browse images posted on Reddit with a thumbnail-based interface optimized for touch. In Alien Blue 2.5, users who will unlock the Pro edition will also get access to sharper “retina thumbnails” on Retina Display devices (iPhone 4/4S, iPod touch) and comment link previews. If you usually “lurk” on Reddit just to check on the latest meme or #AdviceAnimal, being able to preview thumbnails at high definition should be a welcome addition for your Retina displays – sharper thumbnails also fit well in the app’s interface, and I’d recommend the upgrade just to avoid fuzzy images in the main list. With the same concept, any link posted in a comment thread will get a nice visual preview through the Pro upgrade – this can be quite useful to instantly know what you’re about to open from the comments, thus possibly skipping yet another Redditor’s Wife picture.
Alien Blue’s design has received a series of improvements in this update. Both the Posts and Comments screen have been revised, but I believe the sweetest “little touch” in AB 2.5 is the new “pull to refresh” animation, which I’ll let you check out by yourself without spoiling all the fun.
Alongside bug fixes, here are some of the minor improvements officially reported in the changelog:
- Updated launch image
- Ability to jump to subreddit directly from a post
- Ability to jump to submitter’s details directly from a post
- Auto-link shortening when sharing with Twitter
- Voting status now reflects in the colour of the score
Alien Blue remains, in my opinion, the best way to check on Reddit from the iPhone and iPod touch, and I look forward to the changes introduced in this version to find their way onto the iPad as well. Alien Blue for iPhone is free (which is a great deal considering the features you’re getting anyway without paying), with a $1.99 purchase available in-app. As a side note, it appears the Mac version of Alien Blue, announced last year, is still “coming soon” according to the developer’s website.
Top image generated with iMeme for Mac.
Alien Blue, the popular Reddit client for iPhone and iPad, is coming to the Mac with a native version that will be released on the Mac App Store. For those who haven’t tried Alien Blue, it’s an unofficial Reddit application that’s been very successful on the App Store thanks to its clean design, possibility to create shortcuts for subreddits (categories) to reduce the number of taps to navigate the website, as well as inline media viewing for pictures and video, undoubtedly a huge part of Reddit’s success. Alien Blue for iOS (an app that I’ve personally enjoyed using over the past months), is a full-featured Reddit client with login features to check on your Reddit account and leave comments, Read It Later, Instapaper and Readability integration and many more functionalities including a “search” feature to look into Reddit’s archive of posts.
The Mac version of Alien Blue, teased on the app’s website today, looks very elegant and falls in line with the iOS counterpart’s minimal, yet powerful approach to the social sharing / commenting website. Alien Blue for Mac will have a three-panel interface with a column on the left to switch between front page, subreddits and your account’s sections. The mid panel will be used to scroll posts, or check on your messages and notifications. The right panel, the larger one, will allow you to see the actual posts, images and videos. As you can see from the screenshots, everything will be reformatted and redesigned to fit Alien Blue’s aesthetics and color scheme. From a first impression, the app seems to be slightly inspired from Reeder, Sparrow and OS X Lion in general in the way it makes use of monocrome icons, large rounded buttons and a compose window similar to the one seen in the alternative mail client. It looks very intriguing overall, but of course some things may change come the final release.
The developer also writes on the website Alien Blue for Mac will integrate HTML5 technology for YouTube and Vimeo videos, implement Readability to elegantly lay out webpages, and folder for groups of subreddits.
To follow the development of Alien Blue, you can check out Reddit’s dedicated section, or follow the developer on Twitter.
Pulse, the news reader for iOS developed by Alphonso Labs, was updated earlier today in its iPhone version to add much of the functionality from the iPad counterpart, insanely successful and quite possibly the first app that started the “visual news reader” trend on the tablet. Pulse Mini 2.0 for iPhone is faster with more responsive sources and image loading times, smoother scrolling and overall faster performances. Google Reader sync has been optimized to allow for offline reading and syncing back to the cloud as soon as the app gets online again. Search has been enhanced to include top results and relevant titles. Pulse Mini 2.0 is definitely a step forward in terms of usability and underlying engine.
New features have been added, too. As in the iPad version, you can now read content from a variety of sources like Reddit and Digg without manually adding anything – they’re baked into the app. Same applies for Youtube, Vimeo and Hacker News. Similarly, Alphonso Labs added more recommended publications to the list of blogs and websites you should subscribe to, making it easier for new users to find great content without being forced to log into Twitter of Facebook.
Pulse Mini for iPhone is free. With the increased speed, Reddit support (we love it) and more sources, it’s an app to check out.
A few days after an update that brought proper Google Reader sync and faster loading times, the developers of Pulse News Reader for iPad issued a small update on their online backend (it means you don’t need to check for updates in iTunes) to bring extensive support for a series of APIs. What Alphonso Labs is doing is very simple: they’re slowly moving beyond RSS. And with this move, they have embraced APIs as the new way to fetch content from various services like Reddit, Vimeo, Youtube and Digg.
RSS, as many have noted, sounds very geeky - something we find impossible to explain to our mothers. RSS provides the plumbing to visualize a variety of news sources, but it is never mentioned in the app. We added a layer of usability that really resonated with our mainstream users.
For a lot of our users, Pulse has now become their go-to “browser” for consuming content. And this content does not have to be restricted to RSS feeds. Today, we’re adding SIX brand new sources to Pulse.