Considering how eerily the 2001: A Space Odyssey version of a tablet newsreader matches the 2011 reality of the iPad, it's no surprise that the App Store landscape is getting crowded with newsreader options.
Beyond the standalone startups and the gray standards, a whole bunch of RSS-centric tools have made the scene: Flipboard, Early Edition, Pulse, Zite and more. Now we can add another reader to the master list: Taptu, a company with a heritage in search technology, has built out the free iPad version of its app to accompany the existing iPhone and Android versions. The app launches today in the App Store.
Taptu's CEO Mitch Lazar, a veteran of CNN and Yahoo!'s mobile efforts, told me that the experience of building the company's consumer search product (now discontinued) has informed and supported the newsreader platform that Taptu is aiming to create.
Given a serious search infrastructure, it's much easier to tackle the problems of story duplication and "what should I read now?" than it would be without that underlying intelligence. Taptu's recommendation engine will recommend related stories as you read, and it will find feeds and collections that match your interests over time.
Taptu's iPhone app was pulled from the store for a few weeks prior to the universal version's release, but the wait has been fruitful. The new version allows you to manage your 'Streams' easily, as single RSS feeds or compiled from multiple sources including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook social content. You can search the company's directory of featured streams to find news, or quickly create your own from your Google Reader feed list. It's easy to share stories from a Stream via email, Facebook or Twitter; you can even forward your entire Stream of curated content as a single link. (You can find my custom stream in the Stream Store by searching for my Twitter handle.)
The Taptu UI on iPad is strongly reminiscent of Pulse, with the addition of a square array of post icons on the right side of each Stream; this gives you a bit of a preview of the content further down the stream, as it were. You can easily swipe left and right to advance through the stories, and a single tap opens the detail view on an item. The detail views for Twitter and Facebook posts with links include a preview of the linked content below the status post, which is similar to how the official Twitter app handles inline content. You can resort your Streams list however you like and delete Streams you don't need anymore; you can also unmerge a combined Stream into its component sources as needed. The Taptu team tells me there are additional UI tweaks and changes coming down the pipe as well.
While I love Flipboard for its dynamic UI and Early Edition for its newspapery feel, I have a feeling that Taptu is going to be taking over for much of my feed reading on the iPad. The ability to merge feeds into Sources is snazzy, and the app is responsive and quick to update. I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves and changes based on feedback from the App Store market.