The 8 best apps for reading news on your Android tablet

November 6, 2013

News Republic

In News Republic, Mobiles Republic has built one of the few Android news apps that truly makes use of larger touchscreens.

Like others noted in this list, the app (free, Google Play) lets you personalize your reading experience by favoring certain topics (from generic ones like economy and Wall Street in Business, to more specific ones like Edward Snowden in 'hot news'). The difference is the resulting tile-based home screen which lets you resize, move and remove topics much like you would on Windows 8.

There are other good things too. You can view searches for certain terms within an article, sort articles by moods (the reader can decide if the piece makes them feel astonished, pleased, indifferent, worried or sorry) or by videos only.

There are also the options to go into night mode or save article locally to your device.

You can read TabTimes content in News Republic.

Flipboard

No top news list is complete without Flipboard, which finally supported Android in December 2012 having found early success with iPad and iPhone.

And as you would expect, the Android tablet app bears many of the same hallmarks as its iOS counterpart.

As with the iOS version, Flipboard for Android (free, Google Play) offers up a tile-style view on the home page and lets you flip between articles by swiping to the left.  You can also sign into your Flipboard account on the right-hand toolbar.

There are some subtle differences worth noting. With most Android tablets being around the 7-inch variety, articles within the app are less image-orientated and – somewhat strangely – text seems to be slightly larger, meaning you’ll have to ‘flip’ more pages.

There are the traditional options to ‘like’ content, add to your personalized magazines or share to social networks and read-it-later services.

TabTimes updates four magazines on Flipboard – iPad in business, Best iPad apps, Android tablets & apps and Windows tablets & apps – in addition ot the main TabTimes section on Flipboard , at tabtim.es/flipboard.

Google Currents

I am a big fan of Google Currents on Android and a lot of that owes to the simplicity of the navigation and its clean, uncluttered design.

The left hand toolbar breaks down categories and tapping on any one of these will bring up sources for you to dive into (for example, you’ll find content from Wired and The Verge among others under ‘technology’).

Articles are displayed on the right and take over the whole screen (the toolbar is minimized as a result). You can either choose to tap on the article to read it full-screen or scroll down to see other stories from the same publication.

It’s quick and easy to navigate around and more visual than most other Android news apps. My only frustrations are that the app (free, Google Play) is not as comprehensive as Flipboard (as far as sources are concerned) and that it doesn’t allow you to drill down into content by term searches (a key feature on Zite, Pulse and News360).

Taptu

The big names in news aggregation are Flipboard, Zite, Pulse and perhaps News360. And if you’re outside that top four you’re probably struggling for users, monetization and maybe too enjoying a frosty relationship with publishers.

That may or may not be the case with Taptu but the company sure has created an excellent news curating app for Android tablets.

Available for free from Google Play, Taptu goes beyond the basics. Sure, you can log-in with social media, select generic categories as interests and share articles to family and friends, but there’s more to see here.

You can sync devices, search for your own “streams” (blogs & websites) or “DJ your news” by mixing your favorite sources. You can also search for articles using keyboards and view streams online.

And although Taptu isn’t perfect – the log-in process is tedious, some virtual buttons are small and videos sometimes aren’t attached – the app packs some great, personalized content.  

Circa

If you’re looking for beautiful news apps with fine photography, maybe you should download Guardian Witness instead of Circa.

The reason Circa has been chosen in this list is because it challenges what a mobile news app should be about. No more are you reading large chunks of text, or perusing through some ridiculously long 3,000 word tech review, for example.

Instead, Circa employs its own editorial staff to filter the noise across top stories, U.S, world politics and technology news.

When you look an article, it has a small picture and two or more textboxes with all the information you’ll need. The typography is elegant and the layout is attractive and geared up for flicking quickly between articles. You can follow stories to stay updated and share these out via social networks.

This is clearly early days for Circa – the start guide is optimized for smartphones, the right-hand article view can look sparse and scrolling isn’t always fluid – but it could be a sign of things to come.

(Thinking of buying or already using an Android tablet? Subscribe to the free TabTimes for Android newsletter and get the latest news, reviews and apps.)

Zite

Zite is probably my third most used app on the iPad and it scores some serious points on Android too.

And as with the iOS version, the app lets you pick favorite news categories, add your own search terms, view these in the ‘Quicklist’ and like and share content while reading an article.

There are small differences; the text was more compact and there were fewer images on the 7-inch Android tablet I was running. The sharing options had a huge tilt towards pre-loaded Google services too.

The app is equally adept in portrait or landscape mode, although I personally think it looks neater in portrait.

AP Mobile

On first viewing, you may not be impressed with AP Mobile. The user interface is a nightmare littered with smartphone-sized logos and content fields, and the menu layout is uninspiring and frequented by the occasional ad. The images within an article seem oversized and the text is small by comparison.

Fortunately, AP Mobile from Associated Press scores in other areas, and the main one here is unsurprisingly the content.

Thanks to the AP’s array of fine editorial talent, the app spread content wide across numerous categories, from top stories, politics and business to technology, travel and lifestyle.

You can easily scroll down the articles, or swipe across to read the next one, and sharing options – including to Twitter and Google services – are accessible at the top. You can tap on the main image to go full-screen (useful perhaps if you want to check out just how thin the reviewed iPad Air really is).

AP Mobile (free, Google Play) may be visually uninspiring but the content, sharing options and notifications make it a worthy selection.

News360

News360 tore up the rule book and rebuilt its iPad and Android apps from the ground up earlier this year. And what a decision it was because both apps bring a gorgeous user interface, numerous sources and an easily digestible grid format for reading news.

As with other news aggregation apps on this list, you swipe through articles although the News360 layout is perhaps more appealing than Zite’s offering. For every six articles on screen, there are five pictures, while opening the article full screen also shows related articles (with images) down a right hand column. Towards the top of the story, there are icons for tweaking the text, sharing, saving or getting similar stories.

You can personalize your reading experience by selecting your interests after signing in. These go from the broad ‘technology’ to more specific terms like ‘tablets’, ‘iPad’ or ‘operating systems’.

(Don't miss the Tablets in Media & Marketing session at TabletBiz conference & expo, a special one-day event coming to New York on November 13, 2013)

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