News delivered to you
One of the best things about SmartNews is the ability to read everything offline, and the way the app does this is it "delivers" at specific times. You can set up three times a day when the app will deliver the latest batch. I set mine for 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 6 p.m. This way, even if I don't open the app, it will have recent stories that were delivered at those times so I can read them offline.
When you launch the app, you can touch a refresh button to get all the latest stories, but these deliveries mean you'll always have something to read even if you move to a location that has no connection.
You also get notifications at these times so you know the news has been delivered, but you can turn them off in the settings under Delivery Settings if they get to be too much.
Not all sources are available yet
When you browse through the news normally -- say, in the Top News section -- you'll see stories from Reuters, CNN and several other major news outlets. But if you try to add many of these as a channel, you won't be able to find them.
I contacted SmartNews Inc. and it said the channels available represent publishers with whom it has formed partnerships, but it continues to talk to more publishers and expect the list to grow.
It's not a huge concern, because you already get news from all the major sources, but be aware that you won't be able to add many of them as their own channels.
SmartNews, with its behind-the-scenes refresh features, delivers the news across several categories that are incredibly easy to navigate. Swiping between categories is fast and convenient and the ability to read stories offline sets the app apart from most of the popular competitors.
As it is such a new app to the US, it doesn't have partnerships with all the news outlets yet, so you can't view sites like CNN and Reuters as individual channels, but you will still see those sources in your feeds.
Still, with offline news reading, scheduled news deliveries, and an interface that's a joy to use, SmartNews is a great free option for keeping current.