I started paying attention to BBC newscasts when I was a kid, listening over shortwave.s
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 30 years


News apps for Apple and Android devices

January 26, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, The Post-Standard

Tablets are made for news. If you're comfortable sitting in your armchair reading a book or newspaper, you'll surely enjoy doing it on a tablet.

I'm not a news junkie -- all my years in newspapers have weaned me away from reading everything about everybody every chance I get -- but I like to settle down with a good cup of coffee and one of my big tablets to spend a half hour reading the news.

I use either my iPad 3 or my Acer Iconia 200, depending on which one is charged up at the moment. They have roughly the same size screen, although the iPad screen is shaped like an old-fashioned TV and the Acer has the shape of an HD set. Neither one is better for reading than the other; the iPad's greater resolution -- better detail, mostly -- is canceled out by the Acer's ability to show entire web pages in portrait mode. The Acer is an Android tablet and so has a better choice of apps -- you're not limited to one source the way you are with the iPad -- and of course Android tablets cost less.

Here are the news apps I use, all free and all available from the Apple or Google app store and from the Amazon appstore in some cases:

   BBC News, for iPad and Android. I started paying attention to BBC newscasts when I was a kid, listening over shortwave. (No, that was not during World War 1. Now go back to your Melba Toast.) I learned that "factual, to the point and trustworthy" are three ways to describe BBC news both then and now.

Photos that accompany each item actually pertain to the subject at hand. You can pick an item from an easy-to-navigate group of thumbnails or you can swipe sideways from one news item to another.

   Zite, for iPad and Android: The iPad version of Zite is the model of how news apps should be crafted. (The Android version is terrible, so stay away.) You can specify the topics you'd like Zite to follow. There are lots of photos, and they seem to relate to the right topics.

   News360, for iPad and Android: Better than Zite in some ways. You can customize topics just as with Zite, but what News360 adds is a summary of the topic on one face of a rotating cube; flip the cube and you see the same topics from other news sources. If you have a great sense of humor, you'll find the photos that accompany articles truly funny, since they sometimes are assigned randomly.

   Flipboard, for iPad and Android. Probably the most popular tablet news app. Great graphics. Sometimes seems laggy, probably because it has so many devotees. Use it in the morning, not evening, to avoid the crush.