In this day and age of “fake news” allegations thrown around from all parties, and echo chambers that reflect tribal thinking without venturing to read anything that “the others” might be reading, it’s more important to derive information from various sources than ever.
So, what do? Fret not, as there are plenty of excellent news apps out there that offer something for everybody, and, while they often lean towards the sides and publications we usually pick to follow, based on our reading habits, there’s still that great news aggregator quality to them called diversity of opinions. We have handpicked the best news apps out there that can help override our confirmation biases while keeping us merely informed, rather than constantly opinionated.
Flipboard is the Cadillac of news aggregators for the simple fact that it hosts as much sources as the big ones out there, like the News apps from Google or Apple, yet presents them in a nice, user-friendly, and visually appealing way. Granted, Flipboard is guilty of the same thing the other big aggregators are – asking you to choose your topics of interest first, and then serving the most popular content there, narrowing your view somewhat, but the news universe is so vast and instant nowadays, that one would be lost without some curation.
The Associated Press is a titan in the media world. The organization was founded more than 150 years ago and has earned 53 Pulitzer Prizes, including 31 for photography, since the award was established in 1917. Even giants like Google, Yahoo, and MSN rely on the AP as their first source for news coverage of breaking news items. The AP Mobile news app brings you all the facts and nothing else. Some may find the design and user interface a bit bland but If you care about honest and factual journalism, this is the app for you.
Best part? It’s completely free.
Blendle is a news aggregator of different sorts – it does have curated content with daily hits and “For You” section, but its main differentiator is that it battles the paywalls that top publications are raising left and right by offering you articles à la carte, instead of an all-you-can eat buffet. Priced from mere 10 cents and up, the articles come from journalistic stalwarts, from NYT, to Financial Times, and thus you spend money only on something that truly interests you. Even ten dollars go a long way in Blendle, and you can’t beat its affordability and convenience compared to the subscription models that everyone is pushing nowadays.
Best part? If an article you just read doesn’t live up to the title, or if you tapped on it by mistake, you can get an instant refund. The only problem we find with Blendle is that newspapers and magazines are indexed in the old-fashioned print layout, so finding an exact article you wanted to get to may need a few taps more than ideal.
Believe it or not, the humble news app from the folks who indexed the Internet and made it searchable, is still one of the best aggregators out there. Don’t get fooled by the official “News&Weather” title, Google made sure it can index the most news sources out of any such app out there, and revamped the interface for faster browsing and scrolling, as well as easier reading with a dark mode for those sleepless nightly hours.
The New York Times
The New York Times is one of the most popular news sources out there. The companion app for iPhone and Android contains breaking news alerts, offline reading, social media sharing, and broad range of topics to choose from. There’s also a video section, podcasts, cooking recipes, and crossword puzzles. The basic account is free, but if you want full access to all articles, you need a subscription that will cost you $15 a month, or $130 for a full year. Bonus features like crossword puzzles and cooking recipes come at $25 a month.
The Ozy project prides itself in separating grain from chaff, i.e. it manages to really zero in on topics that are relevant not only for the current 24-hour news cycle, to put things in context, and to stay ahead of the pack by scooping up stories that the rest of the news-chasing gang only comes about much later. It’s often been the case that Ozy places a spotlight on something that becomes a hot topic months later, but that type of thoughtfulness and curation come with a price, as it may not write about the latest shape of Kim K’s perfume bottle, missing on a ton of fluff out there. Curated, intelligent news briefings put in context are such a rare find these days, though, that the Ozy Presidential Daily Brief app is worth using on a daily basis – it’s presumably what a president who reads would need to catch up for the day, and Ozy hits a home run more often than not.
This one comes with your iPhone or iPad, and is very well integrated into the overall iOS visual scheme. Heavy on pictures and media, Apple News has partnerships with such juggernauts like the New York Times or National Geographic, and can serve you content based on your channel preferences. The content is a bit hit or miss, though, as the news crawler isn’t as polished as Google’s, plus the app is available only in the US, UK and Australia, so you’d have to go elsewhere for local content.
Feedy is not technically a news app, but it allows users to aggregate news from hundreds of sources. If a feed or a channel has anything to do with news, this smart RSS reader will have it. Feedly features a minimalistic design and such a vast array of personalization options that many users can feel overwhelmed and lost. If you want all the news at one place but don’t want to install too many apps, Feedly is just for you. The service is free for the Basic plan that lets you follow up to 100 sources and use the web, Android, and iOS apps. To lift the limit on sources you have to pay $64.92/year for the Pro plan, that also features categories, search, and third-party integrations.
Quartz is a forward-looking, oddball of a news app. It is styled in the ultramodern chat bot format, and forms a conversation thread, asking you questions to develop it with the hit daily topics that you are interested in.
It serves the information in short and succinct news bytes, like chatting to a well-read friend, so you don’t even have to read the full articles to understand what’s going on in the world in the first five minutes upon waking up. Bonus: topical emoji (it’s a chat app, after all).
After Google, Microsoft’s News app underwent a thorough redesign, too, complete with a dark theme and very modern tiled looks. The only ho-hum part is that there are “sponsored” advertorials sprinkled throughout the content which you have to learn to spot, but these are by no means intrusive plus devs gotta eat, after all. Take your pick between well-curated news sources, or populate your own list – the current Microsoft News is what Google News used to be before it could only fit two news on one screen because of the giant headers. Navigation is also a breeze, as you don’t have to search for an empty spot to swipe between section tabs.