Smartr, a Twitter tool that converts your stream into an RSS-like feed, is one appropriately named app. If you’re at all the type who uses Twitter to bubble up stories and news you may have never come across, Smartr is a dream come true. A well-thought-out Instapaper integration completes the package.
For the times when you’re not interested in what the people you follow are thinking, where they are checking in, or what they are taking hipstamatic photos of, Smartr turns you iPhone or iPod touch into a powerful crowd-sourced RSS reader, by displaying only links posted. Of course the quality and nature of the content depends on the crowd you are sourcing.
Stories are presented as they would be in any RSS reader, with the headline and a few lines of summary or preview text. Above each story is the typical Twitter identification of who posted the story and when they sent it (though not their comments). Pressing on the post flips the screen to display the full story along with whatever the actual tweet in which was posted. You do have the ability to reply or retweet (both new and old-school RT style) the stories on Twitter, though the app is not ideal if you’re in interactive mode (there is that extra click to see the tweet) and is more for when you want to scan a great deal of content in a hurry. You can also email the story or save it for later offline reading on Instapaper or ReadItLater.
As a discovery mechanism the app is ideal. There’s no algorithm to rely on suggesting content that people like you may be interested. This feed is generated by people whom you are actually interested in, for whatever reason you’re interested in them. You can generate the stream from the entire group of people you follow, or individual lists you’ve made or subscribe to.
We are still trying to figure out why the icon for the app is apparently Puff the Magic Dragon. If you know, please share.
Download it: If you often use Twitter to find content you’d not have otherwise come across.
Skip it: If you’re narcissistic tendencies often get the better of you.