I really should pay more attention to the news. Unlike many of my friends, I don't have the habit of reading the newspaper every morning. Until recently, I didn't even fire up a news app to see what's up. It may be days before I find out about an alien invasion or that the zombie apocalypse is in full swing.
Ok, I'll admit I'm not that bad, but staying up on current event has always proven to be a challenge for me. I like my mornings quiet and hassle free, so the rustle of newspaper is just enough kill my calm.
That's not to say that I never check the news. I glance through the New York Times from time to time, peruse USA Today now and again, I'll even take a stroll through Pulse or Editions. All on my iPad. I like the latter two because they gather news from all over, and I can choose the sources they gather it from.
Lately I've been going to discrete news sources like ABC News and CNN. Both sport nice apps and ABC News will give you "5 Things You Need To Know" briefings every morning. I like that.
CNN's app is well organized so finding items of interest is easy, but neither app gives me the different slants that other sources can give. It's like viewing a movie taken from one angle, it's just that view and nothing else.
There are a crop of new news aggregating apps out now that add a little some-some to make nosing through news a bit more interesting. Will it make me want to stay more current with current events? I doubt it, but they do offer a few more reasons why I should try.
One thing I've notice is that while these apps help broaden my view of the news they won't replace the more traditional news apps like CNN. I can search in all these apps, of course, but often I don't know what it is I'm looking for. So, none of these will replace my traditional news, but I'll use them in parallel.
I've talked about news readers before, but, as you'll see, the three I mention here are a bit different. So let get to it.
News Republic [10.7MB, all iOS devices, iOS 5.0 or later, Developer: Mobiles' Republic]
I'm not sure if it's refreshing to see developers take their design cues from someone other than Apple, but it certainly is different. Panels reminiscent of those found on Microsoft's Windows Phone seem to be all the rage now, and that's what you'll find in the News Republic.
Pick a panel, any panel
The large panel is active and cycles through pictures for several top stories. The other panels, displaying a photo for the top story in a particular category, are static, but the photo displayed changes with each page refresh. Tap a panel to find stories in that category, which you can then read, share or comment on, or express how you feel by using a mood indicator. Reader's moods are averaged to show how people feel about a news item.
You can tune what's displayed on the home screen and choose from an impressive list of news sources. You can also customize alerts so that you get flagged only on categories you're interested in. And you can set "Silent Hours," a span of time when no alerts pop up. I like that a lot.
If you sign up for an account then you can sync your settings across your devices and get news delivered to you via email. Both nice features.
Thirst [19.3MB, all iOS devices, iOS 6.0 or later, Developer: Thirst Labs Inc.]
Thirst categories are front and center
Thirst attempts to quench your thirst for news with big bright pix and active panels that front for articles of a particular interest. Let's say you want to keep track of the happenings in the U.N. Type it in the search field and matches, both Thirst users and articles matching your search text fill the screen. Tap one and if it contains articles you like then follow it. The articles you follow will appear on your front page from whatever source. Pretty slick.
Search and follow any topic in Thirst
Thirst adds an enhanced social element. When friends comment or mention you you'll get notified. It's easy to comment and follow others, so you can see what others are talking about.
Using Thirst requires adapting to a different way of viewing news, and as you use it Thirst adapts to you. It's a concept that works, but not everyone will flock to.
Still, Thirst is simple to use and you can't beat free. Give it a shot.
Rockmelt [12.4MB, all iOS devices, iOS 6.0 or later, Developer: Rockmelt Inc.]
Big list of categories to follow in Rockmelt
With a name like Rockmelt your app had better be different, and good. Rockmelt delivers.
Again, more panels, but these are either direct links to stories or videos that play in line. Any of which you can comment to or share with a tap of the button in the lower right corner of each panel. Tap the panel itself and it expands to deliver content in full screen.
I like how easy it is to add or remove categories in Rockmelt. And search is just an icon tap away no matter where you are.
And you can follow news from lots of sources
Of course, you have access to all your social apps so sharing is easy. As with the other two, Rockmelt wants an account from you, either a social account you already have, like Facebook, or an account you create with your email address. This lets others follow you if you're so inclined., and it syncs the categories you follow across devices.
I really like how Rockmelt looks on my iPhone 5. It's the little touches that make it nice. Like how a down swipe will bring the navigation bar at the top back, a more aggressive down swipe brings the search field into view.
Rockmelt is a great app for discovering stuff you otherwise may not have.
And that is a wrap for this week.
If you don't already have it, grab Angry Birds HD, this week's Free App of the Week.