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USA Today for iPhone helps you keep up

I've spent most of my life in the news business, and like many people, I can't get enough of the latest political, sports, tech or business news. There are plenty of apps for the iPhone and iPod touch that help you keep on top of what is going on, but USA Today [app store link] has done a good job of translating the paper to the iPhone. Like many of the competing apps like the New York Times [app store link] or AP Mobile News [app store link], USA Today is free, although some unobtrusive ads do appear at the bottom of stories.

When you install, you can customize the app for weather in your favorite cities, and your top ranked city temperature helpfully appears on every page you navigate to.

There is a good sports section, but no way to customize favorite teams. In addition to sports news, there are up-to-date scores for all the major contests.

Stories you like can be emailed to friends, sent as a text message, or to Twitter. The setup section also allows you to submit bug and feature requests.

USA Today appears to download everything it can when you are connected via Edge, 3G or Wi-Fi, so if you get on a plane and have no Internet access you can still read all the content. I noticed that all the pictures were not available though.

The app also gives you access to USA Today snapshots, and allows you to vote in various polls. Some of the polls were out of date, however, like asking what people are going to wear on New Year's Eve. When you do vote, you're asked if you want to share your location. I think this allows the polls to be parsed by section of the country.

Keep in mind that USA Today is an American newspaper. This is not the app to use to search for much news outside the U.S. of A., and users report you can't even start the app if you are outside the country. The developers say that is a bug, not a feature and will be fixed soon.

Having said all this, the USA Today app for the iPhone/touch is very fast, nicely laid out, follows iPhone GUI conventions very well, and despite some of the little glitches I saw, was a pleasure to use. Just the thing for getting the latest news while strolling around the Macworld Expo, or anywhere really.

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