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Top Android App: Google Reader (Official)

Posted on Dec 1, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | comment

Google Reader has finally been released as a native Android app!

  • Version: 0.8.0
  • Size: 1.66MB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



The Google Reader app includes all of the essential core features you’d expect. Just “Allow” Google Reader to sync your reader account and you’re set. You can even add multiple accounts if necessary.

You’ll have easy access to your subscriptions in a clean, light-weight user interface (this is ideal for quick load times and readability). Additionally, the Home page of the app let’s you quickly access the “All Items” feed, Starred Items, “Your Stuff” (shared items), People you follow, and an option to “Explore” (discover new RSS feeds based on the content you already subscribe to).

With your Android phone’s menu button, you can refresh the feeds list, add a subscription, search, organize your feed, etc. While you’re actually reading an article, you can star, like, share, or tag it as well. The benefit of using tags and starring items is that you can easily search/locate particular articles later on.

A useful setting you may want to enable lets you navigate between articles with your phone’s volume keys.

Pros:

  • Official, native Google Reader Android app!
  • Complete integration/sync with Google Reader
  • Minimalist UI



Areas for improvement:

  • Offline caching/viewing is a must!
  • Options like font sizes, notifications, widget, etc. need to be added in future updates



Conclusion: A promising, solid start to the official Google Reader app, although not as feature-rich as other RSS feed reader options like NewsRob or gReader.

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Top Android App: Pulse News Reader

Posted on Nov 17, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | 1 comment

Pulse is an RSS/news reader with a beautiful, engaging interface.

  • Version: 1.7.1
  • Size: 868KB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



Pulse News Reader will transform your otherwise lackluster RSS/news feeds into a colorful, interactive mosaic. It takes a very different approach than other classic RSS reader Android apps like NewsRob and NewsRoom.

After downloading, you’ll first want to add your preferred news sources. Tap Menu > Manage sources > and then the “+” button. There, you can browse by category, search, or add one of the featured sources. If you use Google Reader as your primary RSS manager, you can easily import your feeds here as well. Another very cool feature is the ability to use Bump to share feeds with another smartphone user (Android and iPhone supported). Once you have added all of your sources, you can rearrange them in any order that you like.

Within the article view, you’ll notice that the functional UI continues, which allows for speedy navigation as well as easy sharing via Facebook, Twitter, email, or SMS. Tap on the article to bring up the navigational slider, options to toggle between text/web views, and a button to return to the home dashboard. Tap again to hide the UI navigation.

Lastly, to really customize this app you can adjust the font sizes, choose whether you want background updates (and if so, their frequency), and sign-in to Facebook for account integration.

Pros:

  • Elegant, functional user-interface
  • Homescreen widgets (small & large)
  • Integration with Facebook, Twitter, and Bump



Areas for improvement:

  • Option to disable transition effects to minimize possible lag
  • Full Google Reader synchronization (not just import)
  • Ability to hide read articles, mark articles for later, etc.
  • Limit of 20 feeds may be restricting for some users



Conclusion: Pulse News Reader is an extremely polished RSS Android app that is sure to impress. However, users who rely heavily on many RSS/news sources may still prefer speedier, text-based RSS app options.

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Top Android App: Motor Trend

Posted on Nov 14, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | comment

Motor Trend gives you the latest automotive news, vehicle reviews, photos, videos, and more!

  • Version: 1.0
  • Size: 1.00MB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



For the car junkies out there, the Motor Trend app is here! Check out the full featured vehicle reviews included in the “Road Tests” section. If you’re considering buying a new car, you should definitely read what they have to say (in addition to other resources of course). Additionally, there are videos of the latest models as well as future and concept cars.

Pros:

  • Extensive information on the latest vehicles hitting the market
  • Photos, videos, news
  • Motor Trend authority and reviews



Areas for improvement:

  • Ability to enlarge photos embedded in articles
  • Enable Apps2SD
  • Search option is a must



Conclusion: A great Android app for the auto enthusiast!

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Top Android App: New Scientist

Posted on Oct 2, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | comment

New Scientist reports on the latest science & technology news.

  • Version: 1.0.0-beta3
  • Size: 305KB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



Quickly access the latest news or narrow down your search by different topics/channels. The “latest news” page offers a list of articles organized in chronological order (from the past few days).

An average day sees about 10-20 articles, so you’ll have new material each and every day. The app’s layout is fast and uncluttered, so scanning article topics and finding the information you care about is pain-free. Many articles also provide links to the scientific journal articles that are referenced so you can do some further research/background on the subject (this will open the browser however).

Pros:

  • The very latest in science and technology news
  • Clean, speedy interface
  • It’s only the beta version!



Areas for improvement:

  • Articles shouldn’t need an internet connection to read
  • Swipe left/right to change article



Conclusion: A convenient way to catch the latest science and technology news all in one handy app!

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Instant Live Weather w/ Radar Now!

Posted on Sep 4, 2010 in News and Weather, Top Rated Apps | 2 comments

Radar Now! fixes your location to display animated weather radar and current conditions right around you.

  • Version: 2.4
  • Size: 196KB
  • Category: News & Weather
  • Price: Free



The reason why this app is one of the best weather apps available for Android is that it does not require any user input or configuration in order to retrieve the radar display. All you need to do is open the app. It will automatically fix your location with either GPS or Network services. The current conditions displayed may be slightly delayed (up to an hour), but the radar is updated within minutes. You’ll see the radar images march across the screen, displaying the last hour’s activity in intervals of about 10 minutes.

In order to provide information at such a high rate, the graphics quality is reduced to avoid having to download large files. Even so, radar is most valuable on a larger scale where you can predict where and how long certain conditions will be.

Pros:

  • Focused on speed and simplicity
  • Automatically fixes your location with GPS or Network location



Areas for improvement:

  • Option for higher quality images (for newer phones or if on WiFi)
  • Ability to span away from current location to see approaching weather



Conclusion: Exactly what a weather app should be; easy to use with quick updates.

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