Until native RSS-reading is perfected on mobile phones, third party newsreaders are often the quickest path to keeping up on headlines. Viigo has been our favorite for Windows Mobile phones to date, but the new application iBrowz beta provides a familiar widget paradigm for subscribing to feeds, and a sharp-looking reader.
Instead of assigning each subscription its own icon, iBrowz groups them by category--under news, tech, and sports thumbnails, for instance. You tap to view the bundle, tap again to see headlines for a news source, and tap a third time to open the story in iBrowz's glossy black reader. A banner ad floats above, and pictures look crisp. Managing subscriptions from the phone is simple, but it's even easier from your account online, where a mouse click is all it takes to add or yank a feed.
While the feed functionality is there, the subscription content is weakened by the limited number of available RSS feeds. More will surely come in the future, especially as iBrowz grows its user base. Third-party developers and publishers are also welcome to add their own. However, those with a particular group of favorites may be frustrated by this modest starter crop. As with most RSS readers, you'll also set a sync schedule. iBrowz's ranges from every thirty minutes to once a day.
There are a few extra touches in iBrowz--e-mailing a story to a friend and tab navigation to get you back to the start screen. iBrowz also does local storage for offline reading (a fact that suggests you might download it to an external storage card rather than to the device memory.)
On the flipside, there's a lot more iBrowz could do, and hopefully will, when it emerges from beta. Bookmarking comes to mind, as do greater organization choices that let you shuffle your feeds within a category, or, better yet, decide to lay them bare on the home screen for quicker access. The subscription content is the app's major stumbling block, especially with rival Viigo letting users subscribe not just to any feed, but to aggregators like Google Reader, too. Still, iBrowz's sophisticated feel gives it hope, and a road map that includes syncing documents from your Windows or Mac computer may yet give it a future edge.