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News360 for iPad more competitive with a major update

I took a look at the free iOS app News360 more than a year ago and found it interesting and useful. The idea behind the app was to show you lots of different takes on a story, so you could see the subject covered from many different points of view.

A new iPad version features a revamped interface, new social features and an option to more closely target your interests.

When you first load the app you are asked to identify your areas of interest, like politics, movies, etc. The app then suggests sub-topics, so if you selected politics it will ask if you want to read stories about Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama, Congress or the Senate.

You can also remove sections, like European Politics, to further focus your results. The app is smart enough to suggest topics that are very current in the news as well. If you can't find what you want, you are free to add any topic or sub-topic you like.

Once you click on a story, you'll see other sources for that same story appearing across the top of the screen. By clicking on them, you can see different points of view. If you like a story, click the "thumbs up" icon, and the app will learn from your ratings. You can also view a story on its originating website.

There are a couple of things to note that are not so positive. First, sometimes the app displays images that have nothing to do with the story you're reading. It's an artifact of the way the stories are parsed, but it detracts from the overall presentation. Worse, the app will interrupt you with a dialog box that tells you you're very well-informed on a subject because you looked at more than one article on the topic. That's just silly and irritating. Thankfully, it can be turned off in the settings.

The app can be used without setting up an account, which is how I use it. If you log in you, can share stories via Twitter, Facebook and Google.

News360 has made some solid improvements. It seems more responsive, has a better UI and it's easier to target the kind of news you like. The app is a worthwhile addition to your arsenal of news apps, especially if you are looking for several points of view on a topic.

This new version of News360 is for iPad only. The older version, which lacks the new features, is available for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new features will eventually migrate to the other versions. News360 requires iOS 4.0 or greater.

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