Tablets optimize

Tablet-friendly newsreaders for news junkies

Jack Wallen highlights two newsreader applications for the Android tablet, Google Currents and Pressreader for Honeycomb.

I like news, and I try to read as much a variety of news as I can. But before the tablet came out, reading news meant one of three things:

  • You consumed trees
  • You were locked at your desktop or confined with your laptop
  • You were squinting to read with your phone

But now, news is as mobile and easy to read as you like -- especially with some fantastic apps for the Android tablet. I have scoured the Android Market to come up with the best of the best newsreaders available. I wanted to focus on applications that do not single out a specific source of news, but allow for multiple sources to be added and enjoyed.

Now, the trick for finding a good newsreader is to watch out for apps that serve as nothing more than placeholders for news site URLS. One such culprit is US Newspapers, an application that simply allows you to click on a newspaper, which will in turn open up your default browser to the mobile version of the paper. That is not what we want. We want an application that will download and present the news from within a single application -- AND we want said application to be able to offer multiple sources. So, with that in mind, let's take a look at two newsreaders that are sure to please even the most hardcore newsie.

Google Currents

Although not newspaper-centric, Google Currents is one of my favorite newsreader applications for the Android platform. Instead of newspapers, you'll be able to view news-centric web sites, such as:

  • The Huffington Post
  • ABC News
  • The Guardian
  • Slate
  • The Christian Science Monitor
  • Forbes
  • Entrepreneur
  • Architizer
  • CNET
  • Android Central
  • Mac Rumors
  • Bleacher Report NFL
  • VeloNews
  • Singletrack.com
And much more. Google Currents will be associated with your Google account (you can even associate Currents with more than one Google account). Outside of the variety of news sources that are included, what I like most about Google Currents is the interface. Figure A shows the basic layout of Google Currents. From here, you can tap on any news story to view. It's incredibly simple to use. Figure A

Although the Google Currents interface seems overly-simplistic, there are a lot of nifty features available.
From the news viewing screen (again look at Figure A), you will notice five icons at the bottom of the screen (above the tablet panel of course). These are (from far left to right):
  • Back: Go back one page from the page you are on
  • Blog Listing: Tap on this icon to open a side-bar (see Figure B) listing of the blog's article listings
  • Home: Tapping this button will take you back the home screen
  • Share: Share the page via Gmail, SMS, and other services
  • Forward: Move forward one page per tap
  • Figure B

    To look back through the blog's listing without having to navigate back through the home screen, open up the menu side-bar.

    Reading through articles on Google Currents is as simple as swiping a finger to the left or right (depending on which way you want to go). Once you're in an article, you keep swiping from left to right (to read the article), and when you reach the end of the article, you'll be taken to the next news story in line.

    To add more news sources to Google Currents, follow these steps:

    1. Go to the home page
    2. In the right pane, scroll until you see the Add icon ("+" symbol)
    3. From the left nav, scroll to the topic you want to choose from
    4. In the right pane (see Figure C), locate the news source to add, and tap the Add for Free button

    Figure C

    The only way to remove a news source is to long-press the icon from the home screen and select Remove.

    Pressreader for Honeycomb

    Pressreader for Honeycomb is the single best way to read newspapers on your tablet. Unlike Google Currents, Pressreader does have a cost associated -- not with the app, but for the source. When you download and install Pressreader, you have a 15-day trial period where you can select seven different newspapers to read. Once you've reached the end of that period, you must then pay for the subscriptions to any paper you choose -- and the selection is huge (although my current state and hometown papers aren't included).

    Of course, you aren't actually paying each newspaper. What you do is create an account. There are four different types of accounts to choose from:

    • Pay as you go: Pay per issue for .99 cent
    • Personal: $29.95 per month (max auto downloads is 5 and up to 14 days back issues)
    • Corporate: $99.95 per month (max auto downloads is 10 and up to 60 days back issues)
    • Professional: $199.95 (max auto downloads is 10 and up to 90 days of back issues)
    Using Pressreader is simple. From the home screen (see Figure D) tap on the Store button (upper left), which will open the listing of available papers. Figure D

    The greyed out papers are those that have not been downloaded.
    When you tap the Store window, it will take you to the country listing. From that window, tap the country you want, which will then list all of the available papers. When you find the paper you want, tap its icon and a new overlay will appear (see Figure E). Figure E

    Tapping the paper will bring up a window that allows you to select download options for the paper.

    In the calendar overlay, you can select which edition you would like to download. You can also set it to auto-download a particular paper. Remember, however, that you can only have a set amount of auto-downloads per your subscription plan, as well as the amount of back issues that you can download.

    After you have your subscriptions set up, go back to My Library (tap the home icon in the upper-left corner of the Pressreader window -- directly to the left of the countries button), and you are ready to start reading your newspapers.

    To read a newspaper, simply tap the icon for the paper and it will open. You can scroll through the paper either by swiping to the left or right, or by using the arrow buttons in the top right-hand corner (see Figure F). Figure F

    Here you see the Denver Post displayed.

    To zoom into the newspaper, use standard multi-touch pinch gestures. You can also view the paper by thumbnails (to keep you from having to scroll to a section, page by page) by tapping the menu button (between the left and right arrows in the upper left corner). When you're in the thumbnails view, you can simply scroll to the page you want and tap -- or you can tap the contents button to see a table of contents for the paper.

    Both of these applications are fantastic ways to view different news sources. If you prefer your news of a newspaperly-type, go with Pressreader (but expect to pay). If you prefer your news web site-ly, you can opt for the free Google Currents application. Either way, you'll be happily reading the latest news on the topic or location of your choice.

    About

    Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

    5 comments
    dhuhtala
    dhuhtala

    Thanks for getting me interested - and then trying to download tthe app only to get "not available in your country" and got unceremoniously kicked out. Wow, Google really doesnt like Canada! This is about the 5th or 6th app like this that I've come across! Let me know when Google decides to go global...

    ghirte
    ghirte

    Sorry, I'm paranoid. Google already scans my gmail and tailors popups. Now I should let them know what news articles I want to read? They, and others know (or assume they know) too much about me, my likes, dislikes, etc.

    denbo68
    denbo68

    Without the ability to read RSS feeds I have little use for these things.

    legend9
    legend9

    Thanks for getting me interested also. Now I know even more about what is not available in Australia. Google Currents is not even listed in The Android Market here. My experience with Press Reader, which was pre-installed on my tablet, is also negative. I signed up for an account and then tried to download the current edition of my favourite daily paper. This resulted in an error message which said: "Current content is prohibited to read/download from your current location." The same paper prominently advertises its iPad app.