Circa News (Free) by Circa 1605, Inc. is an innovative new way to get the news of the day in an easy-to-digest format. While there are other news apps like Pulse and Flipboard, I'm starting to prefer Circa just because of how it works.
In order to use Circa, you can create an account or even just use the app without an account. It’s optional, but it will keep all of your data intact. Optionally, you can use your Facebook credentials if you do not feel like creating a separate account.
The thing that caught my attention about Circa, besides the mass amount of press coverage yesterday, is the fact that this is a beautifully designed app. From the off-white textured background for the header bars, the elegant little bookmark in the corner for "following" stories, and the beautiful serif typeface, I'm loving everything about how the app looks. A well-designed app really makes all the difference when it comes to a great news reading experience.
The main view of the app will be Top Stories, which is a list of the most important news items of the day, as well as prior. The biggest item will “headline” at the top, complete with a banner image. The rest of the stories will have smaller thumbnail images off on the right hand column. All stories will display two lines of text to grab your attention. When you find a story you want to read, just tap on it.
This is where the interesting part of Circa comes into play. This isn’t just another app that reformats an article into a simple reading view. Each story will be its own section in Circa, and you get a beautiful “cover” for each story. You see an image, the category it falls under, the headline, and a brief summary of the story. If that isn’t enough for you, there is always the option to read more by swiping down.
The thing about Circa is that it is managed by their own editorial team. This means that each story is not just a reformatted version of a site’s article, but rather a handwritten, point-by-point summary of the most important parts that the reader should know. This makes it much easier to digest the news, personally, and I really appreciate it. You can see your progress into the story by the page numbers at the bottom, or with the scroll bar on the side.
Since the content is run by actual people, updates will be added when necessary. To stay on top of these updated stories, you can bookmark them to follow later. You can also share a specific point, or the entire story on Facebook or Twitter. Sources are also important, of course, and should you require them, tap on the “i” button to bring up a source link, which opens up in the in-app browser.
You can view your followed stories by accessing the menu from the main list. There will be special news sections that are automatically curated for certain events, such as Election 2012. Circa automatically updates when there are new stories or events, so the app is always bringing in new content, but you can also manually refresh.
Due to the amount of press that the app received for the launch, I faced a lot of crashes yesterday. However, there are no longer any server issues, so the app has been working flawlessly on my iPhone 5, which it is optimized for.
I am loving this app so far, and it will definitely be staying on my iPhone for a while. It’s a fantastic way to catch up on the top news stories of the day, though I do wish that it would provide some more local content.
Regardless, if you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend you do so. Grab it for free for your iPhone in the App Store.