Poor old newspapers. You have to feel sorry for them. Big, ugly and full of bits nobody ever reads, they're all but obsolete -- particularly when you put them next to anphone with some decent news apps installed.
Constantly updated, always available and filtered to suit your own specific reading requirements, the future of news is, quite literally, in the palm of your hand. Depending on your mobile manufacturer, you may find your Android phone already comes with a basic news app of some kind, but there are plenty more to choose from. Here are five of the best current news apps for your phone.
If you have an iPhone, check out our
NewsRob is an alternative Google Reader app that's easy to use and fully customisable. You'll need to set up your feeds at google.com/reader first. Then install NewsRob, log in with your Google account details and you're off. The app can be set to sync articles at regular intervals, downloads them locally for offline reading and notifies you when fresh articles are available. Read/unread articles are colour coded so you can easily see which ones you've already viewed.
In most cases, the free version should provide everything you need, though splurging on the Pro edition will remove adverts and add in a few useful features, such as selective syncing, notes, sharing and a notification widget.
Cost: Free (£4.23 for Pro version).
Sky News continues its campaign for total ubiquity with this free Android app. It's quite basic, but it's one of the few UK-centric 'official' news apps available from the Android Market and brings with it a fair amount of video content from Sky's rolling news broadcasts.
The app itself is well laid out and easy to read, though there aren't many customisation options available. Headlines fill the main part of the screen, while swiping left to right along the upper portion allows you to select specific topics -- business, politics, showbiz, sport and so on. Audio-only versions of the videos are available when you don't have access to fast data rates. There's even a handy headline widget you can slap on your home page.
Another app with a specifically British bent, UK News takes its feed directly from a surprisingly varied selection of local and national news sources -- everything from the Birmingham Post to the BBC.
It's a pretty basic affair, but it's free and easy to use. Tap the Union Flag, then scroll and select the news source you want. A long tap will add a particular source to your favourites.
Individual news sources are formatted for your phone, although the ads are fairly intrusive. It's possible to share an article via one of those new-fangled social-networkising thingummybobs... and that's about it. There's nothing as fancy as a home page widget or anything, and no real customisation settings to play with. Like we said: basic but free.
If the type of news you're specifically interested in is of a techie nature, Geeky Feeds may be of interest. It's free and concentrates on technology news, bringing together a pre-packaged selection of feeds from a number of news sources.
Currently the app has more than a few flaws, however. The ads we can put up with, since this means the app doesn't cost any money. But the feeds it offers are mostly US-centric, though admittedly, this is less of an issue with technology news, which is largely international by nature. The trouble is, you can't add your own feeds, either, so you're kind of stuck with the ones proscribed by the app. Worst of all -- there's no CNET UK.
Winner: BuzzBox News
BuzzBox is an RSS reader that has a clean, easy-to-use, richly formatted interface. It doesn't need to be tied to a Google Reader account and comes with a stack of customisation options. And it's free.
Tap the My Sources icon and you can create your own personalised feed based on headlines from the wide selection of newspapers, blogs and sites available within the app -- or search by URL for more. A slider is provided for each source, so you can get all the latest updates or just skim off the top stories. BuzzBox has its own clever ranking system that streamlines your experience, based on the popularity of certain stories and your own preferences.
Sharing options are available in-app and it also comes with a selection of different home page widgets to choose from.