iOS app Kite brings a new way to get and share the news
Part mobile browser and part social network, Kite lets you read and share news on your iPhone or iPad.
Matt ElliottSenior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Just as you need wind to fly a kite, you need users to make a social network fly. For social news app Kite to take off, it needs users because it relies on humans, not computers, to deliver the news.
"There are two types of curation that work: social is one and the other is journalistic curation," developer Trond Werner Hansen told Bedford and Bowery at Kite's launch last week. "That's why Kite is embracing those two ways. I've never seen algorithmic curation work." Hansen also described Kite as "Instagram for news."
Until its user base reaches critical mass to make its sharing and following functions fully formed, Kite must rely on journalistic curation. In its current and nascent state, however, the app is still a useful and well designed news aggregator. Kite is a free and universal iOS app.
Kite is invite-only but you can use invite code "kite" to create an account. With your account set up and background color selected, the app starts you off following a dozen Kite users. The main Feed looks like Instagram's feed, with different news articles being shared that you can scroll through. For each item in the feed, you can see the Kite user who shared it along with his or her comment, the headline and a description of the article, an image, and buttons to add to reading list, share, comment and like. You can share articles to your Kite followers publicly via their feed, privately to other Kite users who may not already be following you, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Tapping on an article in Kite's news feed opens the article but keeps you within the Kite app instead of kicking you out to Safari. From an article, you can then navigate to other areas of a news site. And you'll see ads only on news sites themselves; no ads appear in Kite's feed.
Swipe left on the Kite feed to access a collection of other news sources. Kite starts you off with a few dozen, but you can add to and subtract from this collection of news source buttons. Use the search box at the top to find a news source and then hit the star button to add to the list. Long press on a news source to drag it to a new spot in the list, and if you drop it on the search box, which shows grinding gears while you are dragging a news button, it will be deleted.
Swipe right on the Kite feed to access the same five areas as the tabs at the bottom of the feed -- Feed, Shared, Reading List, Direct and Activity -- along with Follow (a list of your followers and those you follow, plus Facebook friends and Twitter followers that might be using Kite), Invite (self explanatory), and Profile, where you can add a profile pic and change the background color.
When you are without a network connection, Kite displays a black Subway Mode banner along the top. The app appears to download articles or parts of articles on your feed and reading list. I turned on Airplane Mode on my iPhone and was still able to read full articles in some instances and partial articles in others.
I like having easy access to a wide selection of news sources from a single app, and when the social aspects of the Kite expand as its user base grows, it promises to be an even better mobile news aggregator.