Top news-reading apps for the iOS touch screen

If you like browsing the news on your iOS device, this week's collection offers some of the more visually appealing news apps for your reading pleasure.

iPhone
CNET

The iPad is great for many things, but one of the best uses for me is relaxing on a Saturday and flipping through the latest news. There are plenty of basic news apps that grab all the latest headlines for you, but some offer a sleek layout that lets you browse the news using an elegant interface.

I recently reviewed Trapit for iPad , a fairly new newsreader you can train to give you the latest stories about any subject. You simply search for a keyword and Trapit makes a "Trap" of the latest news stories on that subject that you can swipe to browse or tap to view the whole story. Check out my review linked above.

There are a couple other great newsreader apps that offer similar layouts, so I decided to put them up side by side so you can choose the best one for your purposes.

This week's iOS apps are a couple of newsreaders for perusing the latest stories on your iOS device. The first lays out all stories from several sites vertically, then lets you swipe horizontally to see the latest news stories from one site. The second is possibly one of the best newsreaders available, laying out the news and social site updates kind of like how you would read a magazine.

Pulse News for iPad (free) gives you all the news from your favorite Web sites in an intuitive interface. News sites are laid out vertically so you can swipe up and down to the latest news from all sites quickly, or you can swipe horizontally to read more stories from the same site. Each story heading has the headline and an included graphic, making for a more elegant approach than other newsreaders that show only text links. Touching a story heading gives you either a text-based summary, a mobile-optimized version for easy reading, or a way to view the story on the Web, depending on the news provider. The app comes with several popular Web sites on the bottom of the interface you can add to your Pulse home screen, or you can use the search function to find feeds from your favorite sites.

Pulse News for iPad
Pulse News for iPad lets you browse news sites by swiping vertically, and a swipe to the left or right lets you view stories just for that site. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Pulse is not the first iOS app that helps you collect news feeds, but the layout of this app is especially intuitive, making it easy for people unfamiliar with newsreaders to get started quickly. Your Pulse home screen is completely customizable so you can reorder your feed list to show your most read sites first. If you've spent some time reading through stories and want something new, you can always hit the refresh button at the top of the interface to see if new stories have been posted while you were reading. You can also add Facebook to your feed if you want to see the latest stories from your friends.

Overall, if you want a slick and elegant way to quickly read news stories from all your favorite Web sites, Pulse News Mini takes only a little bit of setup to have the latest headlines laid out for you when you launch. For the iPhone version, grab Pulse News Mini.

Flipboard (free -- iOS universal) is a must-have newsreader and social network hub that lets you organize the info you want to look at and then flip through it like a magazine. Get started by creating an account with Flipboard, then sign in to your Facebook, Google+, and Twitter accounts.

Once you're all signed in, Flipboard presents you with an intuitive layout of your social networks and some default news categories to browse. Touching a panel lets you browse through any of the default categories. But touching and holding a panel lets you delete it and replace it with whatever you want. To customize your Flipboard, touch the More panel in the lower right to browse through several categories like News, Technology, Business, Entertainment, and many others. Touching the News category, for instance, lets you add popular sites to your Flipboard like BBC News, the Guardian, The Economist, Salon, and many more. There's an enormous amount of content to choose from making it possible to customize Flipboard with only the types of stories you want. There's also a search bar if you want to find something specific that you don't see in the presented categories.

Flipboard
Flipboard gives you a different experience, letting you view news or social network feeds like you're reading a magazine. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Possibly the best thing about Flipboard is how it handles social networks. Touching Facebook, for example, brings up all your latest news stories in a magazine-style format and automatically displays images from links your friends posted. Similarly, when you touch Twitter, you'll get each tweet laid out in magazine format, but also with linked stories formatted like a magazine so you can read some of the article (more than on Twitter) before touching to see the whole story. Google+ gets the same treatment, letting you view the latest stories from your circles. In this way, Flipboard might even be a better way to look at social sites than the sites themselves.

Even if you know you're not going to be online later (say, if you're going on a trip via plane) any of the stories you find can be saved to Instapaper or Read It Later so you have the articles handy.

In recent updates to the Flipboard app, you'll now be able to listen to podcasts and audio clips from people you follow, with newly added SoundCloud support. A new tab in the Guide lets you browse through audio content, and a new player is now available by touching a musical notes icon in the lower-left corner of the interface. The app also now has new accessibility controls that enable a visually impaired person to listen to posts on Flipboard.

If you're an information junkie like I am, Flipboard offers an excellent layout for browsing the latest news feeds and popular social sites that's perfect for both the iPhone and iPad. With tons of customization options and a unique magazine style interface, anyone looking for a better way to browse the latest news and social info should definitely download this app immediately.

 

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