Pulse is a news reader for mobile devices that made a big splash when it landed earlier this year. At it’s most basic level, Pulse is just another RSS reader. But it features a unique interactive design with a heavy emphasis on photos and touchscreen gestures that makes reading the news on a mobile device a more pleasant experience. Basically what Google Reader is to newspapers, Pulse is to magazines.
The app initially ran from $1 to $4 on the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Google Android. Today the company is making all of those apps available for free.
The New York Times reports that the goal is to increase the number of uses for each app and attract advertisers and publishers to help fund the software. The company behind Pulse also raised $800,000 in venture capital, which probably provides a bit of a cushion to make up for any lost revenue from removing the price tags on these apps.
Out of the box, Pulse will show you news stories from a handful of popular news sites including TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, Salon, Good, and Fast Company. Each publication gets its own row, with a list of headlines, author information when available, and a nice big photo. You can tap any story to open up a page where you can read the text of the article and see a larger photo.
You can remove any of the news sources you don’t need and add your own, either by selecting a news source from a list maintained by Pulse or by logging into a Google Reader account to add any RSS feed you subscribe to. If a site doesn’t provide a full RSS feed, you won’t get full text in pulse, just the first few lines, but you can tap the headline to pull up the full web page — which may not look as good on your mobile device.
Honestly, I still find the Google Reader web app provides me with a much faster and easier way to get through my daily news reading routine — but I’m a blogger and I subscribe to hundreds of RSS feeds every day and spend more time skimming than reading. If you have half a just a few dozen or fewer news sites that you like to check out every day, Pulse certainly provides an attractive way to do it.
You can download Pulse News Reader for the iPad or Pulse News Mini for the iPhone and iPod touch for free from the App Store. The Pulse app for Android is also now available as a free download from the Android Market.
You can find a few more screenshots of the iOS version after the break.