News curators: News360, NewsSuite (Socialife), and News Republic

Back in the day, news junkies used RSS feeds or standalone news readers to get their fix of current events. News agencies and companies such as the BBC, USA Today, The Guardian, NBC and CNN later built their own websites with varying limitations, features and user interfaces. However, online services and applications that curate from different sources still have a strong attraction to readers who follow global events. Users had their pick of methods to retrieve and save articles and content from sites, from manually pulling HTML to lightweight browser plugins that remember the locations of articles. The popular ebook management software, Calibre, even had an option to collect and convert content to EPUB for reading on ebook readers. 

The proliferation of mobile devices encouraged the use of content and news-related apps like Instapaper, Reeder and Feedly. When Flipboard for iOS came on to the app scene, news aggregators became more of a live magazine that constantly update while pulling photos and videos from their sources. Apps like Flipboard made sure layouts were more attractive, though at the end of the day the news and content sources were more important. 

 
News Republic for HP on an HP Stream 8

Some content sources, such as Business Insider, Perezhilton, Yahoo News, PC World and Christian Science Monitor, are dubious and nothing more than online excrement but find themselves in news aggregators anyway. The quantity of content sources apps retrieve content from is certainly not as important as the legitimacy of the source. Of course, if you like reading garbage from Mashable and Buzzfeed then they can be available on a news reader app or reached directly through a link.

News360, News Republic and Socialife are three cross-platform examples that curate content for mobile devices. I've used the three apps on the Lumia 925, Sony Xperia C3 Dual, HP Stream 8 and a Zotac ZBOX Nano with Windows 10 over the last year and find them a great complement to dedicated apps such from MSN News, BBC News, CNN News and The Guardian.

News360 on Windows 10, Windows Phone 8.1 and iOS9

I'm a fan of MSN News on Windows devices, but News360 has access to a broader range of content. News360 has strong sharing and browsing features and works great on small screens such as the Lumia 925. News360 distinguishes itself from apps like News Republic by showing only a few articles per screen. This allows the preview to have a larger image and longer text excerpt. News360 is not as flashy as Flipboard and thus less resource hungry. The selection of content sources is extremely varied and less common than those accessible via Flipboard and News Republic. The app is an easy recommendation to users who have are tired of more of the same.

 

News360 for iOS9 is excellent on an iPad 2.

Unfortunately the app, despite working well on WP devices, actually doesn't fit well on smaller Windows 10 tablets. In tablet mode, the HP Stream 8 automatically switches to a horizontal screen making it awkward to swipe through articles. In desktop and portrait mode, the app wastes significant screen real estate. Scaling is perfect on an iOS9-powered iPad 2 however.
 
News360 on an HP Stream 8 in Portrait mode isn't ideal.



NewsSuite on Android 5.1.x

NewsSuite, which is originally Sony's Socialife, is preinstalled on Sony Xperia devices, but is pretty much available for anyone with an updated Android device. The original Socialife offered meager content and Sony blogs and wasn't very usable, but the new NewsSuite is a different animal entirely. 

 

NewsSuite on an Android 5.x-powered Sony Xperia C3 Dual

Although NewsSuite doesn't have much access to news sources as competing apps, it does provide adequate flexibility in choosing content and is entertaining enough for casual readers. 

 

NewsSuite has improved significantly from the original Socialife app.

News Republic on Windows 10 and Android 5.1.x

At first glance, News Republic seems to promise an endless amount of articles. You are regularly prompted to add a new source every few weeks and if you haphazardly allow it, you'll end up with Bollywood news, Chinese scandals and pointless news about Jenner, Trump and the Kardashians. Thankfully, you have control over the curated content if you are patient enough to configure the settings. 

 

Users can select their news sources as well as topics of interest in News Republic.

News Republic has a pretty busy interface and isn't as conducive for reading as Flipboard or even News360. After awhile, you might switch to the more understated interface of the BBC News app instead. Still, mindlessly swiping through dozens of articles can prove educational as you find out what other people in different countries and regions consider news.

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