App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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During my tenure as an iPad blogger, I think I’ve had occasion to comment on every news aggregator to make a mark in the App Store. Flipboard wowed us first by integrating our social network feeds into a magazine-like experience. Soon there were Zite, Taptu, Pulse, Flud, Yahoo!'s Livestand, AOL's Editions – a personalized iPad web-news curating app for every reader all using either likes and dislikes on specific articles within selected topics and sources, or our social graph – usually a mixture of both – to become “smarter” at predicting what we each prefer to read.
Last week I looked at a new player, Trapit, which focuses on removing redundancies. This week I look at the latest incarnation of long-time player News360, which takes the opposite tack. Rather than trying to pick one ideal article per topic, News360 provides access to 30,000 sources. Remarkably, in Version Three there is no clutter, and the complex AI engine serves the most relevant results I've seen to-date.
What’s always been great about News360 are the many and varied sources from around the world. It's an easy way to avoid getting locked into one mindset. Thus the app pays less attention to which websites users choose focusing instead on complexity, length, and vocabulary of articles users prefer to discern reading patterns and serve an ideal selection.
News360 uses our "social cloud" data brilliantly. Rather than incorporating Twitter or Google Reader as feeds, the app scans our profiles (along with Facebook, Evernote and G+) for topics of interest and likes. I don’t pretend to fully understand the artificial intelligence at work here, but it’s powered by the same technology used by the Russian government and works well enough to evoke neo-Cold War spy fantasies.
The design is lovely, with either a grid layout or a linear option, both of which work in either orientation. The app uses all the information it gleans elsewhere to prepopulate topics. Users can refine them, add topics by keyword, and create sub-categories easily. Additional sources and sharing options are available with a swipe.
Articles open in a reader view with the original website in miniature on the right. What’s neat is that Safari’s Reader button is right there, so there is no need for a third-party service to render clean scaleable text.
News360 keeps track of all liked, shared, and saved articles and uses a star-based reward system to encourage users to give crucial feedback. I can’t adequately convey the depth of the AI, but I can assure anyone who uses an iPad to get their news that investing time with this app yields rewards no other can match. News360 is the new gold standard for customized iPad news and is certain to push the industry in exciting new directions.