Technology is making it easier than ever before to stay connected with the latest news and information you care about, but sometimes the flow of content can start to feel a little overwhelming. As more and more material becomes available online, finding it easily also becomes more challenging. With so many different websites to choose from, even deciding where to start can be difficult.
If all this sounds a little too familiar, you might consider using one of the many powerful apps for your mobile device that collect and organize news. These apps, often called news readers or news aggregators, gather updates from different news outlets and compile everything into easily readable pages, transforming all of that content into a digital magazine. You decide what kind of content appears in your magazine, allowing you to stay informed about the things that matter most to you.
While there are lots of news readers available, this post is going to focus on three of the best. Each offers some unique features and you will probably want to try them yourself before settling on the one that’s right for you. Fortunately, they’re all completely free, so there’s no harm in exploring.
All of these apps advertise themselves as a sort of digital magazine, but Flipboard is the only one that truly simulates the experience, allowing you to move through content by flipping pages. The motion is seamless and feels natural after using the app for only a few minutes. Flipboard offers a wide selection of different sources to include in your magazine, from national newspapers and magazines to your Facebook and Twitter streams.
You can also add blogs or RSS feeds into your magazine, but Flipboard doesn’t always do the best job of incorporating those sources into your magazine. Often you will have to view an article on the original webpage, which can feel a little clumsy, especially if you’ve become accustomed to reading other articles within the app. Flipboard is currently available on all iOS devices, but it remains evident that the app was designed for use on the iPad. The experience of page flipping does not translate easily to the iPhone’s smaller screen. Still, Flipboard usually proves to be a very satisfying way to view news and information from a variety of different sources.
Zite (iOS, Android)
Zite finds content based on your interests and organizes articles into a neat, clean layout, with a design that feels similar to a traditional newspaper. The more you read, the more Zite learns about the kind of content you enjoy. This allows Zite to focus your magazine around the topics that you care about. Zite also allows you to read the entire text of almost every article within the app, providing a more pleasant reading experience than Flipboard.
While Zite provides perhaps the cleanest interface of these three apps, it is also the least customizable. Zite does not allow you to view any personal news feeds like Twitter or Facebook, nor does it allow you to add independent sources like blogs or RSS updates. The design of the newly released version of Zite for Android also lacks the beautiful stying of the iOS version. Because of its smart recommendation features and beautiful text integration, Zite is a great tool for discovering and reading new content.
Pulse (iOS, Android)
Pulse offers the least traditional approach of the three, displaying updates in a visual mosaic of pictures rather than organizing stories under headlines or pages. Each source is condensed into a row, allowing you to browse through many different stories. Scrolling through a series of updates suddenly feels much easier with Pulse, allowing you to digest a large amount of information quickly.
In addition to a variety of news sources you select by category, Pulse also allows you to add Facebook, Twitter and blog feeds. Pulse often does a better job than Flipboard of incorporating external sources like blogs right into the app. Pulse also enjoys a variety of features that are limited in Flipboard and Zite. With Pulse you can save an article to external services like Instapaper, ReadItLater and EverNote. While Zite and Flipboard allow you to save to some of these external sources, Pulse offers the most choices. You can even save an article to Pulse while browsing the web on your computer via a bookmarklet. Pulse seems to offer many advantages over Zite and Flipboard, but some users may find its content organization distracting after a period of extended use.
So go ahead—download these apps and start exploring. You might find that you like Flipboard for browsing through your social networks, Zite for reading long articles, and Pulse for discovering the latest trends. There’s probably at least one feature you’ll like about each of these apps, but if not, here are some other news readers to consider, as well:
However you decide to use them, we hope that these apps allow you to stay more connected with the news you care about and help you discover information you didn’t even know you needed.