The granddaddy of discovering random cool stuff online, StumbleUpon will celebrate its 10th anniversary later this year — but its mobile app is less than a year old. On the web, its eight million users have spent the last decade recommending (or disliking) millions of webpages with a thumbs up / thumbs down system on a specially installed browser bar. The StumbleUpon engine then passes on recommendations from users whose interests seem similar to yours. Hit the Stumble button and you’ll get a random page that the engine thinks you’ll like. The more you like or dislike its recommendations, the more these random pages will surprise and delight.
Reddit is a self-described social news website where users vote for their favorite stories, pictures or posts from other users, then argue vehemently over their meaning in the comments section. In recent years, it has gained readers as its competitor Digg has lost them. Noisy, brash and never dull, Reddit doesn’t have the machine-learning aspect of StumbleUpon, but it’s well worth browsing regardless. iReddit is a simple way to explore it on your iOS device; Android owners should try the unimaginatively named “Reddit Is Fun” app.
Launched less than a year ago on the iPad and instantly praised on stage at a developers’ conference by Steve Jobs, Pulse is more of a traditional news reader than StumbleUpon or Reddit — it uses RSS, or Real Simple Syndication. But its gorgeous, photo-filled scrolling interface makes it a joy to behold and a cinch to discover new articles of interest. (Try an RSS interface like Google Reader, and you’ll likely run screaming from the pages and pages of dull-looking headlines.) Better yet, with a couple of taps you can save the article to Instapaper, an offline reader, when you have no Internet access. The app is available for free in the iTunes Store and the Android Market.