Daily iPad App: News360 2.0
I liked News360 when a reviewed it last April. It uses several sources for stories, and it was interesting to see the different takes on any single event. Of course News360 was also an excellent news discovery tool, scanning thousands of news sources to keep me up to date.
One of the issues with News360 is you had no control over the sources. The app was basically static, and you got what you got. That's all changed in version 2 of this free app, released today.
In a move toward personalization, News360 lets you input your Facebook, Twitter, Evernote and Google Reader accounts to seed the app with what news you are following and generate a unique mix of news that fits your interest. It's a good idea, and seems to work well. The more information it has about your reading habits, the better the presentation will be.
The downside of all this is that it requires you having these accounts. No Facebook or Twitter account, for example, no personalized news. I think it's a mistake to go that direction. Many people are getting tired of some social media, especially Facebook because of privacy issues. I would have much preferred a GUI that lets me enter my interests or keywords. Going even deeper, the app could monitor what stories I look at and learn a lot about what I like that way. That's what my favorite news discovery tool Zite does, and Pulse News and Flipboard allow you to link to social media like Facebook but don't require it. The developers say that in an upcoming version, the social media links will no longer be required, and that's a positive step.
This new version sports another excellent feature. Users can sync with news360.com and get their custom news without needing your iPad. Nice for office workers or others who want the benefits of the app and don't have or don't always carry an iPad.
The app has some nice customization features. You can look at what's called an interest graph and edit it, so if it is bringing in things you don't want, you can whisk them away with a few clicks. The app also automatically provides links for more information, and, with your permission, it can use your location to get local news.
I do like News360. It offers some fresh ideas for news aggregation, and the personalization is most welcome. I just wish it wasn't forcing me to to be on Facebook or some other system to find out what news I like. You don't have to personalize the app, and if you don't this version will work just like the older version, without user control of what you see.
News360 is also available on the iPhone, but that version won't get personalization until Fall.
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