I’ve already mentioned some of the news apps I like in a previous post, but there are actually a few more I’d like to tell you about.
One of the most distinctive memories from my childhood is of my parents disappearing behind the daily newspaper (back when even a small town had both a morning and evening paper), emerging only to read something funny or amazing to each other. The distinctive rustle a paper makes in a quiet room is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
There are trade-offs involved in swapping physical media for the electronic variety, but in my view, the trade-offs are worth it. A good full-screen app can reproduce that disappearing-into-the-paper sensation, and also that sense of discovery when you’re reading one thing and stumble onto something else. Plus, I’m no longer limited to the worldview of my local newsroom. And I definitely don’t miss the clutter of daily papers piling up in the corners.
It’s important to note that the Wall Street Journal app is free, but without a subscription, you get access to only some of the content. For non-subscribers, you can still see a lot of the articles and the whimsical little illustrations that give the WSJ such a memorable look. The familiar dot drawings are supplemented with plenty of videos and other rich content.
As with the Wall Street Journal app, you need a subscription for full access to the New York Times app, too. But stories in the Top News section are free, as is a lot of the other world-class content. Eschewing the single-picture-plus-wall-of-text format of some news sites and apps, many articles here are carefully laid out with images embedded within them, leading the eye along. The paper has long been a leader in digital content, and it really shows here, in not only the rich media content, but in every detail, from the icons denoting each section to the beautifully designed navigation.
The NBC News app is rock solid. It may be your basic mix of video and text (I prefer to read more than watch, so I love that every video comes with a write-up), but it simply feels good to browse. Going as deep as you can into each sub-section, there’s still plenty to explore. Beyond just stories from the NBC newscast and clips from TODAY, there are also pretty decent blogs on technology, entertainment, and other topics.
Befitting its role as a technology news source, Engadget delivers a fun and fast browsing experience that feels a little different from the apps that come from more traditional media outlets. With images and video, there seems to be less of an effort to find the one perfect picture. It’s not careless so much as loose and fun. It feels younger. The content is served up with the most recent stories first, and is also browsable by whatever type of technology you’re most interested in.
These news apps not only deliver content efficiently, they also make consuming the news a pleasurable and aesthetically pleasing experience. Even without that papery rustle.