If there is one thing that is great on an iPad it’s reading…stuff. Books, RSS feeds, and the news in general. The question is, then, what are the best apps for reading the news. I have a few picks for you that I’m sure you might be able to sink your teeth into.
I’ve broken the list into two groups: Traditional and personalized (or social) news apps. Traditional news apps are like ones from CNN, the BBC, and other news organizations. They pick the news that you see. Essentially, a digital newspaper. Personalized or social news apps are ones that you tailor to your interests. Some like Zite and News360 learn from your choices to bring you only the stories that it things you’ll find interesting, others like Pulse let you pick from the news sources you’d like to read, but you get all of the news from that source.
Last thing, while a few of these apps connect to Google Reader to get a sense of your interests, these aren’t RSS Readers per se, we’ll get those another time.
Almost all of these apps come from major news outlets and include text, video, and picture sections of the news. With any of these apps whether you like the app or not will be partially based on do you like the coverage they offer. That, I can’t help you with, but apps that look good and work? Yeah, that I can do. So these apps are offered without judgement of their reporting, style, or bias.
CNN: You can’t miss with CNN. They have a great app for starters and, well, they are CNN. I’ve enjoyed getting the push notifications of breaking news. A nice way to say on top of breaking news in the world. There is a separate CNN app for the iPhone as well.
BBC: The BBC app has always been one of my favorites. Solid, intuitive, and stable.
CBC: The CBC has spent a lot of time making some pretty good apps. Their news app is solid, but also check out CBC Music and CBC Radio, great apps for getting some music going.
Huffington Post: HuffPo is probably the most diverse app content wise. Heck, HuffPo is probably the most diverse news site online (terms of ranges of content). It’s not a multimedia centric or focused all, but more text. Read it and enjoy.
Reuters: Reuters is a huge wire service with reporters around the world. So if you’re looking for breaking news, chances are it will be here first or a very close second. Might not be the spiffiest of apps, but you can’t say it gets between you and the articles you want to read either.
Al Jazeera: You might think this an odd choice, but it’s a solid app and covers the Middle East thoroughly. Like CNN, BBC, and CBC there is a solid video component to the app.
NYTimes: This list wouldn’t be complete without the venerable Gray Lady.
WSJ: The Wall Street Journal app wins the award for “app that looks most like a newspaper”, while reading it I almost thought my fingers would be black with newspaper ink. To read the content you do have to sign up for a free WJS account.
Washington Post: I looked at the Washington Post when I was looking at election apps. Another very solid news app to have when you need something to read.
NPR: Since we’re talking about National Public Radio here, yes, there is more audio than anything else connected with the app. Which is good if sometimes you just want to listen to the news.
ABC News: Strongly video focused (as you’d expect), but lots of content to pick from.
Fox News: Another very video focused news app (again, not surprising), but also looks well done.
The Guardian: this is the only Newsstand app in the bunch. I like the Guardian online and I was pretty sure that they had an app…they do, sorta. I like the look of the app, but you can only read for for for 15 issues (so an issue a day…) before you have to subscribe.
Editor’s pick: CNN.
Ha! Thought I’d say the CBC, right? Nope, CNN has a much better app.
As I said in the introduction, all of these apps offer some degree of personalization in picking topics. Pulse let’s you pick the sources of news, kind of like having all the news sources pulled into one place. The rest of the apps also pull in information from your social networks and Google Reader to help a) tailor sources for you and b) tailor stories for you. Apps like Zite and News360 also let you give a thumbs up or down on articles, helping those apps learn your tastes and interests better.
Pulse: Pulse just had a big overhaul of its app. The stacked interface of headlines is pretty slick and lets you skim quickly. Of course Pulse is more like RSS reader Lite than news aggregator. You pick the sources, you get all of the stories from the source.
Editions by AOL: I tried Editions early on, and it’s made some improvements. It’s certainly worth a look and it does have nice personalization options.
News360: I hadn’t looked at News360 in a very long time and was really impressed with the new UI. Lots of options for picking sources/topics as well as refining your choices. If there is one thing that I’d say against it—you can certainly overload your stream with all the topics you’re interested in.
Zite: This has been my go-to news app for close to a year now. When I don’t have time to read through my RSS feeds or I want to find some new sources of news, Zite never lets me down. Like Flipboard, however, when there is big news that everyone is covering, expect that topic to fill up your news feed.
Flipboard: I know Flipboard is Silicon Valley’s darling, but…I don’t think it’s as good as Zite for helping me discover new sources and places to read. Because it focuses on your social networks so much, it’s really easy to form an echo chamber in Flipboard.
Editor’s choice: Zite.
Yeah you probably figured that out. I will say that News360 really impressed me and if it wasn’t for some strange UI quirks with how you go through articles, it would be giving Zite a run for its money.
There you go. More than enough news apps to keep all by the most rapid news junkie happy. Before you comment, yes, I know there are apps for a lot of the tech publications and newspapers and other places. I tried to keep this to great general news apps for now. Maybe another list will be the best apps for tech news.
But we can talk about that later…