Offlane, a newsstand app for the iPad in private beta, syncs online news content to your mobile device so it can be read offline. The company took the stage Thursday at the Launch Conference to present its new product.
The panel of judges, which included Tim Lee from Sequoia Capital and David Sacks from Yammer, immediately compared Offlane to the popular iOS app Flipboard. It’s obviously why; Offlane has a Flipboard look and feel, with a magazine layout and a full screen mode for reading stories. Just like Flipboard, you can browse popular news categories such as world news, entertainment, and food.
The biggest draw of the app is that with it, you can read paid and free content without an Internet connection. Content is synced to the app while you have a WiFi or data connection and then is stored for offline viewing. You can also purchase magazines with the app, whether or not you have a connection.
While the Launch judges compared Offlane to Flipboard, I immediately thought of Google Currents, Google’s newsreader app that debuted in December 2011. Currents’ main feature is offline syncing of content, just like Offlane.
When Currents launched, Offlane founder Roman Geyzer was nervous that his product would be overshadowed, but was happy that Google put its energy into an offline news app.
“It felt like market validation for me that Google wanted to launch something in this realm,” Geyzer told me at Launch.
Despite have the Google name attached to it, Currents hasn’t gained a ton of popularity. The app is slow to update and sync stories, and people have criticized it for having an awkward interface. Offlane could offer a better alternative than what Google offers, as long as it had a more straightforward and faster sync process.
Offlane will also compete with Pulse, an online magazine article reader. Pulse presents news articles, magazine articles, and other free and paid content. Zite is another player, which offers a personalized newsreader app for iOS.
Offlane announced the launch of its private beta today and is currently seeking funding.
Top newsstand image via Flickr user niznoz