NewsFlash ~ Breaking News & World Headlines RSS Reader (Free) by Sollico Software is a one-stop app for getting the latest news from around the world.
I don’t know about you, but I personally get use Google Reader for subscribing to the feeds I care about, which end up to be mostly technology and Apple sites. But sometimes, I actually have the hankering for some real news that has to deal with the world. But I don’t really want to add these to my Google Reader account, since I know that it will overflow my reading list. So what do I do? Just open NewsFlash.
I love the way that NewsFlash automatically refreshes and fetches the latest headlines from a wide variety of news sources. You’ll get a list of articles, which you can easily discern the bolded headline from the preview text as you scan through it. You can search by keyword in the current section as well, which is a handy feature to have. If you’re on an iPad, you can even get a thumbnail of an image in the article.
By default, the News feed is selected, but you can change that anytime by tapping the button on the top left. This brings up a side-scrolling bar that you can use to change the category of news, which can range from world and politics to opinion, business and sports to auto and culture, and more. If you can think of a general section you’d find in the newspaper, then this app will have it.
In addition to the sections bar, you can swipe all the way left to reveal the languages bar (and do the same to go back to the topics bar). Tapping on a language will take you back to the article listing, except now everything will appear in whatever language you selected. This is great for multilingual readers, though that is unfortunately not me.
If you find an article that interests you, then just tap on it to view the webpage. There are options to increase or decrease the font size, block popups and other intrusive links, and you can share the article with Facebook, Twitter, or just send by email or SMS/iMessage.
While I found the default settings to be enough for me, I know many people out there would like to customize NewsFlash to be their only news reader (this is secondary for me, as Google Reader is my main news app). Fortunately, the app has plenty of settings, accessible from the gear button.
Users can change the preview text on the article list (default is four lines) and alter the appearance with different background colors and text sizes. The biggest thing, though, is the ability to toggle what sections appear and what sources show up in a selected feed. So if you have absolutely no interest in sports, arts, or politics, just go into the Section option and pop those suckers off.
The Feeds option allows you to view what sources will appear in each language and each section. You can view a source and hide it, if you dislike the source (or just don’t care). The ability to add your own sources is huge, and it’s actually available in NewsFlash (ignore the naysayers in iTunes – these are people that did not dig deep enough into the settings).
However, the interface for adding your own feeds is not that intuitive. You will have to scroll to the section you want to add the feed in, and when you have to view all the sections with multiple sources in each, this can be a bit cumbersome. There should be the ability to just add a new feed with a single button in that view, and then choose which feed it should go to before you save it.
It is missing on important thing though – a way to save articles for later reading. I would love to see Instapaper or Read It Later integration, or even a local reading list in the app itself. There currently is no way to save an article for later, unless you email yourself the link.
It would also be nice to see a mobilizer view of the article, rather than opening it in the webpage. The biggest reason I have for this is the fact that some articles are on sites that will take you to their “mobile homepage,” and end up not taking me to view the article I wanted to see (e.g. TechCrunch is one of the offending sites).
Sometimes the list of articles can be too big – the developer should implement a way to limit the article list to the most recent 10 articles, or something like that. It currently seems to be a big pile of articles from all over, which can be overwhelming at times.
Despite that, I still find the app a pleasure to use to get my daily dose of general, non-tech news. The app itself is free, but it is supported by ads, which are actually non-intrusive. However, if you are the type of person to support developers for making a useful piece of software, then you can remove the ads for $1.99 via an in-app purchase. These won’t, however, remove the ads on webpages that you view.
NewsFlash is a great way to skim through the latest headlines and get caught up on what is happening in the world around you. Since it’s free, make sure to give it a try.