The folks over at Phantom Fish software have released version 3 of their popular Byline feed reader app for the iPhone. The update brings with it several new features, including integration with Instapaper, gesture-based navigation, and improved performance.
Byline works by fetching a list of feeds from your Google Reader subscriptions, and caching a copy of the articles on your iPhone for easy reading or viewing while offline. Now I'll admit, while Google Reader does simplify feed management by keeping all of your subscriptions and updates in one place, it's not my cup of tea. Personally, I prefer to manage feeds directly from my reader app, rather than having to go somewhere else to do it.
That aside, Byline 3 keeps the process simple by asking for your Google login, and then quickly going straight to your list of feeds without requiring any additional steps or setup. Each item is displayed right in the app, allowing quick navigation between stories and feeds. Want to view the link in Mobile Safari or send it to Instapaper? That can be done by tapping the forward menu icon on any item. Starring an item or adding notes is also simple and intuitive.
Since I'm a big fan of flexibility when it comes to iPhone apps, I was pleased to see the number of options offered in the settings panel. Viewing thresholds for several of the feed lists are easily configurable, so you can choose to limit or hide things like starred items or notes if you don't use those features. Other options include manual sync, portrait orientation locking and a few options to fine-tune the caching of stories.
Overall, the app is well done and easy to use. Ironically, the only complaint I really have had with it is sync speed, which is one of the things that were said to be improved in the new version. It's not unreasonably slow, but still slower than I'd have liked. In all fairness, though, I'm pretty sure my less-than-stellar internet connection was a contributing factor. A few posts on the developer's twitter feed suggest that a few minor bugs are already known, and will be fixed in an upcoming update.
Byline 3 is US$3.99 in the App Store, and is available now. Head on over and check it out!