Circa News (Android) review: Just the news you need, when you want it

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Circa News (Android)

(Part #: cir.ca)
4.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Circa News for Android makes it easy to find the news you want to read and gives you short news summaries that don't waste your time.

The Bad There's no way to personalize the news you get to fit your interests.

The Bottom Line Circa is a fantastic free tool for reading breaking news and staying informed wherever you are.

8.8 Overall
  • Installation and Setup 10.0
  • Features and Support 8.0
  • Interface 9.0
  • Performance 9.0

Circa News (Android|iOS) is a free news app that condenses top stories from the US and around the world into short, quick-read summaries so that you can stay on top of the news when you only have a few moments to spare.

The news team behind Circa combs through press releases, blog posts, and new stories from major publications to get the most crucial bits of information, including quotes and photos, then combines each tidbit into a short article, called a storyline. You can follow storylines to get updates on new developments and browse the news by categories, such as technology, and science and health.

Apps like Circa that deliver just distilled tidbits of news have started gaining steam lately. Yahoo unveiled an app called News Digest during CES 2014 and this month an app called Inside launched for iOS and Blackberry. Both titles share similar missions with Circa: To make it easier to find and read the news that matters. Neither News Digest or Inside are available for Android as of yet, so I can't compare the experiences to Circa here. However, I am not in a rush for either to pop up on the platform, because I find Circa lives up to its hype by giving me just the news details I want in a clean, well-designed app.

Getting started
What I like about Circa is that you don't need an account to use the app. However, signing up lets you follow storylines and get alerts when a new development happens. You can log in with Facebook, Google+, or an e-mail and password.

Just a note, Circa's news team writes the content in the app in English. Circa does not yet have options for other languages.

Keeping up with the top stories
The app is divided into six news sections, with the top headlines on the first page. Swipe left or right to bring up news from the United States, worldwide headlines, politics, technology, and science and health. You can also jump directly to any section from a hidden menu that shows up when you swipe from the far left edge of your screen.

In each topic section, stories are organized by date, with today at the top, yesterday below that, followed by stories from "earlier this week."

Circa has six sections of headlines including US and world news, technology, and science and health. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Each news entry in Circa is called a storyline, where facts, quotes, and photos from various sources are separated into short morsels of news that give you just enough information without overwhelming you with too many details.

At the bottom of each storyline, you'll see related stories and citations, which is helpful if you want to read a full news story or do your own fact-checking.

The app is full of small touches that show how thoughtfully it was built. The stories you read are grayed out in the news sections, so you can tell at a glance what you've already read. Circa guides you everywhere in the app, explaining each feature so you never feel lost. I really enjoy the app's clean, dead-simple intuitive design.

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