When you rise in the morning, that foggy period of time between the moment you drag yourself out of bed, to the point when you’ve consumed enough coffee to clear your head, it would be nice to have everything done for you — wouldn’t it be great if you could have your RSS feeds read to you.
News Anchor for Mac aims to lend you a helping hand when you’re too tired to tackle reading your RSS feed by reading the news to you. This app brings users a new way to experience the latest articles sitting in their readers by transforming the feeds into watchable news clips.
It works by pulling in data from RSS and Atom feeds and it enables users to also input their Google reader. It organizes feeds by category, designed to divide the news sources by topic such as entertainment, technology and sports. Users can even create their own categories and pick which sources they want to show up within each episode.
Let’s say you wanted to create a category for your favourite tech sites. After adding a few sources to a “tech” category, News Anchor will compile the latest articles and turn them into a television-like news cast, reading each article out loud, coupled with images from the post that are displayed in the top right hand of the screen.
Quick access to the news channels or episodes are sported as icons within the app and are played like a standard media player. The shows can be viewed in full screen mode or customized to any desired size. In addition to customizing the UI, users can set how often the app generates episodes; hourly, daily, weekly etc. Or, how many articles are read within each episode; 12 to 24 articles.
Why it’s cool: News Anchor will cache your news feeds so the app can also be used when you’re offline. The news can additionally be taken with you while you’re on the go because News Anchor is able to create audio podcasts, enabling you to use it on a device like your iPod, or any player that supports MP4/ACC files. And as we’d said, if you’re too tired to read or you’re tied up eating dinner, it brings you an alternative solution for consuming the news.
What we don’t like: While we can understand that developing technology that reads back data is difficult, it should be noted that the narration isn’t perfect. The robotic sound of the anchors are slightly creepy and remind me of the ominous voice of a Speak & Spell toy I had back in the 80’s. It does pronounce language quite well but its robotic voice is a bit off-putting. On the other hand, News Anchor does offer an impressive amount of both male and female characters and additional voices that can be tweaked to adjust the rate of speech.
The Bottom Line:
News junkies may get a kick out of this app and although the articles aren’t read as smoothly as a human, it’s capable of keeping you in the loop when you’re unable to scour the feeds yourself. News Anchor is available for $29.99 in the Mac store and it’s compatible with Snow Leopard. Maybe a bit pricey but maybe something you could use, please let us know what you think in the comments.