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Stay At Home GeekMom Weekend Edition: Best Apps for News Junkies – iPhone (Most Free!)

Hello again,

I’ve been so good, I’ve been posting here all week and I have an exclusive giveaway going on right now for the best new puzzle game this year, Burn it All.

Now it’s time for another Weekend Edition.

I have been meaning to do this one for a while. As a news-a-holic I use my iDevices to consume news in every format. I get my print newspapers, my digital editions of print newspapers, my magazines and anything else availble in paper, in paperless form. I also comsume RSS feeds and tweets voraciously.

And if you were one of my Facebook friends you would know I love sharing what I discover or find interesting with everyone.

iPhones and iPads are the ideal way to get your news on the go in myriad formats. No matter how you like your news served, there is, of course, an app for that.

In fact there are actually thousands of apps for that, so how do you choose? And should you pay or stick to the free services?

Today we are going to look at  iPhone (and iPod touch) options for news, but instead of just mentioning my favourites, I created a guide. Part two, next weekend, will focus on iPad apps. Apps on both lists may be universal so check them both out!

Since this is a guide, not a list, the apps are ranked and categorized.

If I missed your favorite please let me know in the comments. I checked out over 60 apps for this list, but I could never hope to cover them all!

Must-Haves

PressReader Universal (free) 7 Trial issues, In-App Subscription 
5 Stars

If you are a traditional news junkie and love newspapers, but want to carry them with you or if you want your papers, but you want features that only an app can provide, PressReader is awesome. Literally,  as in I am in awe of how it brings the world to my lap.

It gives you access to over 1700 papers from around the world.

Read the International Herald Tribune, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Observer and other major international papers.

And also select from thousands of publications from cities and towns in every corner of the world, all in their native language.

The universal app is free to download, comes with seven free issues, and then has a pay-as-you go or subscription option.

Features include read aloud, multi-platform access, easy navigation, social network integration, and all papers are available for offline reading.

I wrote a comprehensive review when I first started this blog, you can read it here, but note there have been even more updates and more papers added.

Because it is a companion app to a huge website, and part of a company that delivers newspapers to hotels worldwide you can expect constant improvements.

Also you can access the papers you buy on your computer or almost any other mobile device, not just Apple gear. It’s even available for Kindle and other e-readers. This is a must-have if you don’t mind paying a fair price for a ton of content.

User reviews were middling until recent updates. The current version has 4.5 stars but only 7 people have checked in. Try a free issue , or just browse and let me know if you love it as much as I do!

Pulse News Mini (free)  5 Stars

Pulse Mini is the free iPhone counterpart to the hugely popular Pulse News app for iPad. It’s gorgeous. It also brings you news from any of a vast selection of preset feeds in all areas including sports, tech, politics, entertainment even fashion from the biggest websites around.

It lets you add your Twitter, Facebook and other social network feeds. And it functions as a Google reader.  We’ll go a bit deeper into Pulse in part two, in the mean time you can get it for iPad, also free, on the App Store.

Excellent Options:

News360 Universal (free) 4.5 Stars

With well over 2000 user reviews and a solid 4.5 rating, News360 may not need an introduction, but here’s one just in case.

The app gathers information from over 100 newspapers and magazines and presents them to you based on your location.

It also serves up multiple articles from many viewpoints on a single theme allowing for depth and perspective.

With the ability to follow topics and Instapaper and Read it later for offline reading and Facebook, Twitter and email sharing and you have another free winner.

Taptu Universal (free) 4.5 Stars

 
This one is the newest universal multi-source newsreader to hit the App Store. And I confess, I’m in love.

Taptu is the current critics darling; wired.com, TechCrunch, Tuaw and Gizmodo amongst others, have been touting the newcomer as a fantastic news app that keeps you coming back for more.

It’s user interface (UI) is beautiful. Taptu lets you add your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, and the content from your favorite web sites and blogs (via RSS feeds or Twitter.) It then transforms them into visual streams. Share via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Reported crashes were fixed in update, new version is getting 4.5 stars.

Reader ($2.99) 4.5 Stars

If Google Reader is your preferred manner of consuming news, I highly recommend Reeder.

There are many free alternatives, good ones, (I like Feedly and Feeddler), but if you rely on Google’s RSS service, no iPhone app brings you more for less.

Browsing and sharing are a breeze, the slider control is great, and it’s super easy to manage feeds and folders.

Features: send to Instapaper, ReadItLater or Readability, save to Delicious, Pinbard and Zootool; Facebook and twitter posting, and much more. Current version has 20 5-stars ratings, overall over 355, with a firm 4.5.

Sources You Know -Good Apps

PBS NEWSHOUR – official (free) 4.5 stars

What can I say, it’s PBS’s Newshour. Some folks don’t like the GUI, I say get over it.

If PBS wants to bring their content to me for free even on my iDevices, I’m thrilled to have not just one, but many hours of their insightful, in-depth analysis.

And the chief user complaint is the placement of a banner. It’s annoying, but this is PBS. If they can raise funds in-app, kudos; at least their not shilling for co-co puffs or Shi.. er Citibank. Get it!

NPR News (free) 4.5 Stars

Ok I don’t debate politics,(well of course I do, but not here) ,but this might give you a hint as to which side of the aisle I would be on if I were American.

If you hate NPR, obviously this is the wrong app, but if you are like me and turn to them for thought-provoking discussions of headlines, politics, and everything else under the sun then this is one killer app.

Forgetting the content, the features are amazing and the interface works smoothly. The latest version has over 1000 user reviews and it gets a solid 4-stars. If you assume some of the critics are NPR haters, I think my rating is more reflective of the app’s quality.

You can listen to hourly updates, create playlists of stories you want to hear, and stream podcasts, no syncing or downloading needed.

You can also read stories while listening to live or on-demand shows an can download the stories for offline access. You can find your local station or listen to your favorites from around the US (I am partial to Boston) or stick with national coverage only.

Favorite segments like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air, and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! are included. It’s a must-have for NPR junkies.

CBS Sunday Morning (free) 4 Stars 


Sunday is happy day for news junkies. The best papers are bursting at the seams and for most of my life CBS has brought us 60 Minutes in the evening and CBS Sunday Morning with our coffee and crossword.

OK, both shows have gone downhill since their heyday, 60 Mnutes more than Sunday Morning, but in a sea of lightweight news programs, of info-tainment and opinion lurking beneath the guise of journalism, Sunday Morning is a still breathe of sunny fresh air. Especially if you like culture with your news.

They cover the news the sound-byte stations overlook: Art, Music, Architecture, Nature, Pop Culture, History and offer thoughtful opinions from some of the best commentators still on the idiot-box And Charleses, past and present, serve the top news and political stories from unique angles.

The app brings you highlights only, not full shows, but I’ll take it. It’s also a two-fer; tap to switch to the main CBS news app: But that app is poorly rated (see below.)

This one is iPhone only, The video upscales well to iPad, but the GUI does not. Users give it 3-3.5 stars, but I am a die-hard fan of the show and if you are too, it’s even worth the pixelation on the iPad to get the video content.

Quality crumbs beat an overabundance of garbage any day.

Bloomberg  (free) 4 Stars

If the name doesn’t make you think of stocks and financial news you must have been sleeping in a cave for the last several decades.

Bloomberg is a preeminent source for all things market-reated, and the app serve up their content on iPhone.

Bloomberg offers news, stock quotes, company descriptions, market leaders and laggers, price charts, market trends analysis, and more.

You can also create a customized list of stocks you want to follow from markets around the world.

It gets a 3.5 from users, I think the UI makes it worth 4.

BBC News (free) 4 stars

What’s in a name? With the BBC, like NPR and PBS, everything. Here’s their free app that lets you access their best content.

Filter news stories by geographical region or category including business, technology, entertainment and sports. It  also has content in Spanish, Russian, Arabic and other languages.

You even get video, including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go.  You can also personalize the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing

NBC Nightly News (free) 3 stars.

I don’t like network and cable news, period. And while all the networks have apps, I will tell you now that ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox get terrible reviews.

Well Fox’s dedicated, um, call them fans, (but in the literal sense), will defend the 24 hour exreme-right-wing propaganda machine. (Even on matters where I lean right, they are just plain nuts, sorry. Blame it on my Candianess, but it’s lol-funny, in a sad way.)

But those judging the app, not the politics say it’s crap too.

NBC Nighlty News by MSNBC is the only one that gets decent ratings. Users, the few who left comments, love it or hate it, but it averages out to 3.5 stars. Just the icon makes me sure I’ll never check for myself. Blech.

Sources You Know -Bad Apps

NYTimes (subscription only) 3 stars

 
The NY Times is widely considered one of the finest news organizations in the world and their app was huge hit. A recent change making content available only to subscribers, however, has lowered their user-reviewers considerably. News Junkies are fleeing to free or cheaper alternatives.

If you do have a subscription or need your NYT like I do (book reviews!), then this app remains a good, really the only, choice.

Just read the fine print; there has been some confusion over iTunes NYT subscriptions and direct NTY subscriptions.

Network News Apps (free) 0-2 Stars 

As I said avoid all the major US news network apps, besides the NBC one, and even that is superfluous with so many better options.

I’m not going to take them down one by one, just trust me, they suck and the content is often not available out of the US anyway.

CNN’s iPad app is eye candy, but their iPhone app is almost impossible to see.

AP Mobile (free) 2 stars

 The Associated Press is one of the oldest and most respected news organizations in the world. News outlets pay them to provide breaking news from all over the globe.

Their’s was also one of the first iPhone news apps to use Push Notifications. It used to me my go-to app for headlines and push.

But so many better alternatives have cropped up, and the AP app sits mostly unchanged except that a recent update added in-app adverts, which are turning off long-time fans.

Reuters is on par with the AP and their free app gets great ratings although I haven’t checked it out myself. It can’t be worse.

Great Alternatives to Traditional News Apps:

Twitter (free) 5 stars

If I were just listing the best twitter clients, I would not give Twitter’s own iPhone app 5 stars or the top spot. But this is a list for news junkies, not tweeters. This app has all the basic functions of twitter, and, of course, it’s free.

Other apps are available with more robust features, and with less features, and more a more passive reading experience. We’ll talk which are best that in another post.

But what we do need to discuss is how Twttter is one of the best and most popular ways to access news from any device or computer, any time, anywhere.  If you know all about twitter, skip this next part, but if you don’t read on:

It seems like  years ago, but back in late January when I was starting this blog I hadn’t used twitter, nor had I any interest in it.

My understanding was that Twitter was a way to link to your friends and celebrities to send stupidly short notes about what you are doing every minute of the day.

And I was right, Twitter is that. But, it’s also become the ultimate aggregrator, for all interests, particularly news. All you need to do is open a free account and start searching.

Pick an obvious starting point like the NYT or the AP, your local paper, favorite news network, website, or whatever and it’s pretty likely they have a twitter feed.

Just choose to follow them and suddenly you are getting instant access to their latest news. Then see who they follow to find more content you wouldn’t think to search for.

Robin Rhys, appadvice.com’s on-air personality, my friend and colleague, just covered the best Twitter apps for all different levels of Twitter users. She explains a lot about Twitter in general too.

Check it out to find which Twitter app will suit you best – I use several, but Tweetings is the one that lives on my dock.

As you get to know your way around, you will find there is a ton of content for any interest under the sun.

And things called hashtags that let you see what everyone in the Twitterverse (I know, but I didn’t make it up) is talking about.

If you typed in #royalwedding yesterday you could have seen what every single person from everywhere on earth had to say. All I had to say was “who cares”, so I did chirp in, but you can see how it can help with issues that actually matter.

And don’t think you only get 146 characters of news. Twitter all about sharing links. You post a link, a short comment and ta-da you have a tweet. When you read tweets in most apps you don’t have to open a web browser, you can see the relevant web page right there.

Of course you can then retweet it to your followers and trust me, somehow, some people, will find you!

Newsy: Multisource Video News Analysis (free) 4.5 stars

Newsy is also available for iPad and TechCrunch calls it a must-download. It’s for those who like to watch the news instead of reading it.

Newsy delivers short videos designed to keep you informed on the biggest news stories. It’s great to enhance your understanding of all sides of the argument quickly,  by providing multiple perspectives from multiple sources. The current version has 4.5 stars from over 50 users.

MacHash News (free) 4.5 stars 

Apple Junkie? Tech-News-aholic? If you’re looking for the latest on OS X and iOS look no further than #MacHash. (Think hashtags, see Twitter above)

It’s a tech news aggregator that delivers the latest Apple news to any iDevice.

Sources include: 9to5 Mac, Apple Hot News, AppleInsider, GigaOm, Lifehacker, Mac Observer, MacApper, MacDailyNews, Macenstein, MacLife, MacNewsWorld, MacNN, MacRumors, MacStories, Macworld, PowerPage, RoughlyDrafted, Slashdot: Apple, Smoking Apples, TidBITS, TiPb, TUAW and more in a great universal interface.

It’s a fantastic go-to resource for folks just like me. It gets a 4.5 rating from users too.

Podcasts – AudioPress Pro Player 
($1.99) 4 Stars

Do you prefer listening to, over reading or watching, the news? Or do you find yourself in the car or at work an unable to take your eyes off your task? Then Audiopress is for you.

Radio apps provide plenty of access to talk and news stations, but Audiopress brings you the news-out-loud a different way.

You can search radio stations by geo-location, but the primary function is playing podcasts. Just create a playlist and you’re set.

Don’t know the first thing about podcasts? Me neither, I equte them with iPod audio players, not iOS devices.

But Audiopress offers an easy way to discover them, and to my surprise there is a ton of great current content out there, news and otherwise.

In this app you can pick up to three topics and it chooses podcasts for you. You can then fine tune as much as you like. You can save podcasts for offline listening.

Once you learn what you like, you can add any other podcast you want, for a completely personalized listening experience. I have started to use it daily.

Share via Facebook. Twitter, and email. Free version available with limited features. 57 users share my 4-Star assessment. Try it.

Zinio Magazine Newsstand & Reader (freee to download, minimal free content, buy magazine via in-app purchase) 3.5 Stars

Prefer your news in magazine form? Well if PressReader is a virtual newspaper stand, Zinio is it’s magazine counterpart.

Access digital copies of news, sports, and every other type of magazine from top publishes. All the major names are there.

This is a paid service, there is a little free content, but expect the costs to be as much or more than retail. Much worse for non-US customers.

That said the interface is fantastic and some magazines are worth any price. I love National Geographic’s interactive content and prefer Zinio to their own app. Users like it less than I because of the cost. it gets 3 stars in/on the App Store.

Ok that should keep you more than busy for this weekend.

Until then please check out some of my most popular weekend editions and recent reviews. And enter to win the only free copy giveaway for the biggest new game to hit the app store. It’s the best puzzler of 2011 and I have a copy and a review for you! It’s the next post down or the first link below.

Happy App Hunting

The 

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Comments on: "Best iPhone Apps For News Junkies (Most Free!)" (7)

  1. […] at the best and worst news apps in a much more expansive format with some 20-odd apps included, check out my list here from my Stay at Home GeekMom […]

  2. […] Comment on Stay At Home GeekMom Weekend Edition: Best Apps for News Junkies Part One – iPhone (Mo… […]

  3. Sally LaMay said:

    love reading your info !!!!-

  4. good list but what about Zite and Flipboard?

  5. Wow, Quite a list of some cool apps. Thanks for sharing and for all your work putting this together!

  6. I must admit that I am hooked on my AP Mobile. Clearly there are better choices out there. Thanks for the write-up. Time to try something new and better.

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