TweetMag has been the Motorola Xoom of apps for a few months now; a good idea, but released way before its time with half the parts missing. Earlier tonight I got prompted with an update for the app though, finally making it what the Xoom will never be; a product you’d want to spend your money on.
TweetMag is a peculiar concept. It’s sort of the second coming of RSS, combining human selectiveness with an Internet full of news articles. Instead of feeding it RSS feeds, you connect with Twitter and then follow either people or lists on Twitter. The app then finds all the links in the Twitter feeds you’re following, collects the articles hiding behind those links and formats it all into a magazine style layout. The result is an app where you can spend all day browsing articles if you want to, or just quickly browse through a few select lists.
The topic for these generated “Twitter magazines” depend on who you follow. Many sites (including Nothing But Tablets) offer Twitter accounts that auto-tweet articles, which will essentially turn Tweetmag into an RSS reader. However following people in particular fields can be much more useful as you’ll find articles from sites you never heard of and essentially get a list of what particular people find to be the best articles out there. Twitter lists put several twitterers into one stream, meaning you can follow entire industries at once, like “iPhone and iPad”.
The app has been out for a couple of months, but hasn’t been usable before today. The problem it had was that it was slow- I’m not talking “oh I’m on 3G, it will take a few seconds”-slow, I’m talking “I’m connected to a 100mbps Wifi network and it still takes several minutes to refresh”. It was simply unusable because it would only display a few stories unless you continuously loaded more, and each of these updates would be stupid slow. That is all fixed now though and it’s just as quick as an RSS reader it seems.
With the speed issue solved, TweetMag is one of those apps you have to check out if you spend a lot of time reading online articles. It’s a treasure chest of good stuff, one that never gets empty. Compared to RSS feeds it’s a lot more flexible, giving you the best news from sites you haven’t hear of rather than tying you to the sites you know. At $4.99 it’s a on the expensive side as far as iPad apps go but in my opinion it’s well worth it. Reading is one of my favorite uses for the iPad, and I often spend hours at a time reading RSS feeds, Zinio magazines, forums etc. This just adds to that continuously updated library.