Four must have news aggregator apps for your Android–Part 1

Posted on Mar 1 2013 - 3:11pm by Harvey

The beauty of smartphones and tablets running Android today can only be appreciated by looking at the apps it offers.  While offering many other features, one group of apps  available for tablets and smartphones are the so-called news aggregator apps that gives almost instant around the clock news access. If you are the type who wants to know what’s happening around the world in an instant, news sources will be at your fingertips by getting any of the news aggregator apps that we will be discussing below.

 News360

Designed primarily for tablets at first, this app can now be downloaded to phones  to give users over 1500 news sources around the world. Well-designed and clean-looking, the app brings you many different stories from many sources in a useful and concise steam. The apps own algorithm, especially its semantic analysis technology collects background information and dossiers about people, companies, and locations to give an excellent news list. The same technology also allows the app to personalize the news offerings for your location and to determine suitable feeds that may interest you.N360-main

 Features:

First released to run on Android 3.0 Honeycomb, News360 is also now available for Jelly Bean operating system. This app is an attractive looking application for those who want to also enjoy how their app interface appears. News360 banks on how it displays its presentation of the news and other news sources. It also offers an eye-candy 360-degree view, customizable list of interesting topics, a widget, and even an option for local news sources based on your GPS location.

The main feature of the app is the “stories” view. This allows a user to see the news categories that are available in the application, as well as give them an option to browse through the  articles on a specific topic.  Highlighting a news story will give a preview of the news article together with alternative sources.

And speaking of alternative features, News360 presents alternative sources of an article uniquely. When reading a news article for instance, the app will also present you alternative sources for the news from different sites, giving you more options to select a site you trust. This feature is very useful for those who wants to look for another angle of a story.

Reading full article using News360 is a snap. All you need to do is to drag the preview of a web page up to show the entire article in full screen mode. The transition from being a preview to full screen is also beautifully done.

Another appealing feature of this app is the 360-degree view. This feature displays the main image of the news stories listed under your various news topics across the screen.  Selecting  a news story is done by simply tapping on an image of interest. This is great if you want to randomly discover unique interesting news articles that would not be normally listed in your topics of interest.

As mentioned earlier, News360 allows for easy categorization of your news topics. You can do this by going to “My Stories’ section and typing various topics you like so you can add them to your main list of news. After making your news list, News360 will start looking for relevant news stories based on your GPS location and other information available at the time.

 Usefulness

This app is a very good tool to find interesting news stories around the world in English. For instance, you can easily find  English versions of news stories happening in the Philippines, which normally reports in native language called Tagalog. The need for an English translator has been eliminated effectively using this app.

If you want to shed light on a political issue without having to contend yourself with a single angle, this app is the answer. Because it allows you to read the news from many alternative sources, you will have many different points of view for a political topic. This is especially useful if you aim to get a more rounded picture of a specific topic. You only have to read through all the sources that will interest you.

User-Friendly?

Yes. It is probably the most easy to use news aggregator app I have tried so far. Unlike other apps, News360 does not ask you to set up Google News Reader, add in your customized feeds, and more. All you need to do is type in the topics and the app gives you the options.

 User Interface

The interface of News360 is just amazing because of the features like the 360-degree view, smooth transition from RSS feed to news articles, and simple yet elegant “My Stories” section.

It cannot be denied that News360 presents the transition from the RSS feed of a web page to a full screen is great. It is seamless and smooth. You will not notice that you are leaving the app to go an external site. Going back to the native application from your browser pane is as simple as bringing it up. To go back to the app, simply slide down to the bottom of the page so it disappears, exposing News360 back again.

Overall, the look is News360 is clean and visually appealing. While other apps similar to it displays headlines with words, News360 allows users to choose news articles based on images of headlines instead.

 Good and Bad Sides

Positive:

    • Offers a novel presentation of news items using 360-degree view through alternative sources
    • Allows discovery of more topics you may have missed by using 360-degree view
    • Suave transition from RSS feed to full screen
    • Easy compilation of topics of interest
    • Free!

Negative:

    • Does not work on independent news feeds but only major syndicates
    • Does not support Blogs

 

Google Currents

Another slick news aggregator, Google Currents is a new entrant into this app category.  Designed to work at first for U.S. users, this app is now being offered worldwide.currents_2215270b

 Features

Initial reaction of users in the United States immediately after this app launched was mixed. For one, many users complained about significant lag times although subsequent patches already fixed the problem. This problem though seemed to have been ignored when taken into consideration its well-placed design and ease-of-use, which many users point out as the main interesting factor. This app can directly rival the offerings other outstanding news aggregator apps like Pulse, Taptu, and individual news apps like CNN or BBC, etc. Google Currents provides a more intuitive experience to its users, making reading news stories a breeze. Finding news items and browsing through them has never been this easy.

Loading the app will show that it is packed with features. The first thing that usually stands out is the presentation. Depending on your device, the screens are normally lit brightly and the format well designed, making reading stories a delight. Stories that includes YouTube videos  work perfectly and viewing picture galleries is a breeze. Pages can be flicked sideways creating a feel as if you are reading a real newspaper, adding to the intuitive and natural feel.

Another great feature for this app is that it allows offline reading. You can easily upload and update content for offline reading later if needed. The app  has syncing options which works in the background. Syncing frequency can be changed according to your choice. If you keep a tight watch on your data consumption, this app also allows syncing only when Wi-Fi is available. If access to data is not a problem, the app can be set to update itself every hour, including high-resolution images.  This app works well for commuters, as you can set it up to connect to your Wi-Fi at home every morning before leaving your house.  This guarantees happy reading along the way every day.

Following the footsteps of Twitter and Google+, this app also features “Trending” concept. This means that you will never be left wondering about the hottest news happening in town and around the world. The idea of “Trending” in this app is based on the most popular news stories from many different news sources all over.

Google Currents sometimes presents some news items as snippets. This means that you need to visit the original source site to read more.

The app also uses Google’s translation technology to get news around the world by using a preferred language. There are so 44 languages being supported right now.

Google Currents widget is also available to give you fresh news on your home screen.

Usefulness

The syncing ability of the app allows easy sharing options on the go. Google Currents is certainly a good option to get the latest stories from your preferred news sites.

 User-Friendly?

While some icons are not labeled, the app is generally easy to navigate though you may sometimes get lost. All the other features of the app makes its ease of use decent enough to make it popular.

 User Interface

Google Currents is neat and perfectly formatted. The pages are lit brightly making them readable. The main menu and settings screen is also well-advised, departing from the usual look of Android operating system, creating an impression that you are not running Google’s operating system.

 Good and Bad Sides

Positive:

    • Neat interface
    • Provides great option for offline reading
    • Easy to search news items
    • Customizable settings
    • Free

Negative:

    • App directs you to original site using a browser to view the entire article sometimes. This happens when you are viewing an article not supported in RSS feeds.
    • Only allows current news items; cannot view older news.

 

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