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News (in a) Flash

TMI? Four amazing next-generation newsreaders make it easier than ever to cope with information overload



EVEN BEFORE THE days of tweets, Facebook links and iPhone notifications, I was addicted to news. Yet despite my absorbing five daily newspapers and the “Today” show every morning, it was manageable. Today, it’s nearly impossible to keep up — especially now that I have 50-plus feeds inundating my Google Reader.

Fortunately, spurred by the iPad’s navigability combined with 24/7 Internet connectivity, a new generation of newsreaders has emerged, each promising to filter out the noise and serve up exactly what I want.

Flipboard grabs pictures and text from articles and displays them in a variety of magazine-style layouts, complete with a mix of fonts, sidebars and picture shapes and sizes. You can choose from curated feeds, ranging from food and travel to celebrity gossip and sports, or select feeds à la carte or import them from your Google Reader account. Flipboard is also an ideal way to view Twitter and Facebook feeds, turning a humdrum stream of link-laden updates into pages with newspaper-style layouts, in which each “article” is devoted to a news link shared by your friends. Downside: It works only on Apple platforms.

Scrollers, which feature stacks of picture-and-headline feeds grouped according to individual media outlets or subjects, can be easily browsed by swiping from side to side, making it a cinch to scan dozens of stories quickly. The two best scrollers, Pulse and Taptu, work on all Android and iOS devices. Pulse lets users create up to five pages of 12 feeds stacked on top of one another, which is handy for separating different areas of interest. Taptu, on the other hand, opts for a limitless stack of side-scrolling feeds (which I prefer, since it satisfies my need to dive head-first into information overload). It won’t necessarily help you filter information, but it does allow you to take big bites quickly.

Then there’s News 360. What it lacks in gloss it more than makes up for in innovation. When you link your Facebook, Twitter, Instapaper, Read It Later and Evernote accounts, News 360 will learn to unearth stories it thinks you might like. Users can click on a subject category in the left rail, and then scroll through an infinite list of the latest topic-specific headlines. At the top of each story page, News 360 inserts a list of links to every other media outlet’s version of the same story, while significant terms, names and other words are automatically hyperlinked to pop-up definitions. Plus, it remembers your settings across platforms, so the experience and story list will look the same whether you’re viewing it on an iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Android tablet, Windows Phone 7 device or your PC’s web browser.

Which of these will actually help find what you want amid today’s ceaseless information barrage? Well, if you’re looking for a better way to read Facebook and Twitter feeds, then Flipboard it is; if you spend as much time on your smartphone as on your computer, try News 360; and if you’re an info hound who still wants a bit of serendipity, you’ll likely get the most from Taptu.

After several weeks of news-hounding, tech writer TOM SAMILJAN can’t wait to get back to reading his novel (via e-reader).

One Response to “News (in a) Flash”

  1. Susan Zimmerman Says:
    December 2nd, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    So many news options! Great article. Thanks for sorting through them all for the rest of us.

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