App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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AOL, the once giant ISP of the interwebz seems to be struggling to find its place into today’s tech culture and one of the most recent effort is Editions by AOL - a news aggregator they recently launched for iPad. It’s designed to look and feel like a print magazine. But, it feels rushed and derivative, not new and exciting.
Editions is customizable. Users can add their Facebook, Twitter and calendar events, and of course their AIM account. There are several color schemes and 16 subsections like world and local news, sports or entertainment. Readers drag their picks and set them in order of priority. From that information and for US residents only, a zip code, a special user edition is created and made to look as close to a print mag as possible right down to a pseudo bar code and mailing label.
Readers tap to open and are presented with Facebook birthdays, calendar events and a weather forecast, the lead story and a navigation panel. Frankly I think heavy social media users will go to a dedicated app for or the site their fix and those on a tight schedule will likely have checked their agenda before stopping for a read. But even if this sort of social media integration appeals, there is little of it and Flipboard did it first and does it better.
Here users can set text size, delivery time, and browse by section or article. Navigation is all tap and swipe the latter of which leads to the table of contents that gives the highlights and access to a complete list of the contents. The app works only in portrait mode, my first inkling I wasn’t going to fall in like, and load time is on the long side.
At the top of each article is a section full of blue boxes, which is where the customization comes in. One box has the news source and the rest have keywords based on the text. Users can opt to read less or more. Nice, but this is straight out of Zite, which has a much more elegant sidebar placement.
It is possible to add feeds to Editions, but only the ones AOL curates. There is no complete source list to be found so it’s hit or miss. Enter a site and if AOL has it, great if not, not. Don’t expect to see or add your favorite smaller sites or find hidden gems. In addition, only select articles can be read in-app and offline.
AOL presents a nice personal reading experience, but we’ve been there and done that many times on the iPad. There's just nothing groundbreaking here – the interface, graphics, layout and features are a step back from the best news apps out there. Without a major makeover, Editions for AOL is a miss.