The Android Market isn’t short on news reading apps to download but very few deserve to reside on your smartphone’s homescreen. Right now, in our eyes, Pulse is the top anchorman on Android but word is that News Republic is a threat to its number one status. And we can see why. Unlike most RSS feeders, this app doesn’t personalise feeds from website sources but instead by words and specific subjects. Using tech sorcery called TagNav it searches the app’s presubscribed leading newswires and drops the relevant and latest news in your lap.
It’s clear from the outset that News Republic doesn’t match Pulse in terms of design. Its rival’s stylised presentation and animation transitions are a major reason why Life of Android rates it so highly. Although still nicely drawn, News Republic, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same visual impact.
Style issue aside, the user-interface is certainly fun and intuitive to navigate around. The news homescreen is divided into two tabs – one for pre-populated top stories, the other for your personalised news page. In ‘My News’ the latest headlines runs along the top with category icons peppering the main page. To customise with specific subjects close to your heart you just search the newswire and add accordingly. Simple.
However, there is a caveat. Despite relying on 12 of the most respected news agencies and feeding over 1500 articles a day, these news hounds can’t cover everything and everyone, so headlines on your favourite personalities, sportsmen or music group, say, may not appear in your search. It’s a pity you can’t manually add RSS feeds from your favourite websites; deliver this functionality and News Republic would be the ultimate news reading app.
Sitting in the right hand corner is a ‘squiggle’ icon that sends you to a ‘Topic’ cloud – the 3D sphere mode is the coolest- related to the category or particular news story you’ve latched onto. Tap on a word and the pertinent news will appear. More impressive still is the app’s deeper web functionality. Swipe up the topic curtain and with one prod and it will search Wikipedia, Google, Twitter and YouTube.
Naturally, you can quickly and easily share news stories on Facebook, Twitter, Email and SMS while articles can be saved to read offline. Another neat touch is both the homescreen widget and notifications can be specifically tailored for your favourite news topics.
News Republic has an innovative approach to sourcing news feeds and its added online functionality and attention to detail certainly gives it an edge over rivals. The lack of manual RSS feed set up does niggle but sit it alongside Pulse and you have Android’s news reading dream team.
The bottom line
Good enough to retire Huw Edwards. An essential Android app
Version reviewed 1.1
Requires Android 1.5 or above
News Republic video preview