Four FREE apps that can transform how you read the news

With the explosion of information and news sources that is the hallmark of the internet, application developers are coming up with creative ways to browse and read the news, adding functions such as customization, Geo-mapping, and social sharing and discovery to your reading experience, just to name a few.

Moreover, if you subscribe to RSS feeds to get your articles delivered then you should check out some of these services, as some are similar, though not the same.

This article will present four free apps that offer novel approaches to perusing and consuming the news. These apps are: Newsmap, News360, Hubii, and Comunitee.

Four apps to read the news

The four services listed below

  1. Newsmap: a bird’s eye view of the news
  2. News360: a customized news stream, delivered to your PC or your device
  3. Hubii: your news, pinpointed (by publisher) on a Geo-map
  4. Comunitee: follow the news with a community of like-minded people

1. Newsmap: a bird’s eye view of the News

Newsmap Screenshot
Newsmap presents news articles as checkered boxes, magazine style, that pack a lot of information into a relatively small area. But what it really does is filter the news, which is done via tabs that you can select or deselect, as well as a handy searchbox. The top row of tabs lets you filter by country, while the bottom row filters by topic. All of the topics are color coded for easy identification, and popular articles are displayed more prominently and in larger font.

Newsmap is a great way to get your news at-a-glance. If there was something I could wish for, however, is the ability to filter out specific sources of news.


2. News360: a customized news stream delivered to your PC or your device

News360 Screenshot1 - The Web AppNews360 Screenshot2 - AndroidNews360 Screenshot3 - Android
News360 uses ‘semantic analysis’ in order to evaluate the impact and relevancy of news articles that it presents. It will also want to scan any or all of your Google Reader, Facebook, Twitter, Evernote and Google+ accounts in order to find out exactly the kind of topics and news sources you like, and then use this information when serving your articles.

One of the interesting things about News360 is that it will provide many sources that cover the same item, with the intent of giving alternative points of view more-or-less in the very same spot, although I wish I could have it filter out some sources so that these are never listed. Other bells and whistles include relevant videos and photos, a real time relevant Twitter feed, and highlighting of people and organizations in your articles that you can use to get extra information on these entities.

New360 is available as a web app, as an extension for all the major browsers, and as an app for your Android, iOS and other devices. One of the best features is the ability to save news items for later OFFLINE reading on your device (in a manner similar to recently mentioned app Pocket).


3. Hubii: your news, pinpointed (by publisher) on a Geo-map

Hubii Screenshot
All politics, as they say, is local, and the News is not that different. Hubii identifies your IP location and displays a ‘Mapazine’; i.e. a Google style map that displays the location of publishers as well as their published news stories and articles simultaneously on the left sidebar. Note that the publishers are pinned to the map, and not the location of the news events, which is a bit counterintuitive at fist.

Hubii also allows users to subscribe to individual publishers, RSS style, and view them on a normal, non geo-tagged screen.


4. Comunitee: follow the news with a community of like-minded people

Comunitee Screenshot1
Comunitee is a web service that wants you to share news stories and articles with your friends and other Comunitee users, to have followers and to follow people, etc. — in short, to be a social network for news.

Comunitee begins by asking you to identify your interests, which is done by selecting what you like from a wide range of tags that it will show you. The next step after that is inviting friend to the service. Lastly, you can read, star articles that you like, leave comments or questions on articles that can be seen by others on the service.

Overall, it’s an interesting concept, but I could not help but think that the service should try to piggyback more on Facebook (in the same way that Goodreads does for example) rather than reinvent so much of the (Facebook) wheel.


We would love to hear about your experience with these. Also, if you know of other apps or websites that are similar please let us know in the comments section.


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • Anon

    Hey there, you forgot to link to the Newsmap website. Nice work.

  • Samer

    @ Anon: oops. Fixed it, thanks.

  • http://www.portablefreeware.com webfork

    Totally agree with you that any quality news software should have filters. We all have a list of people or topics in the media we don’t want to hear about. In my case talentless reality show participants but I can think of many reasons: maybe you’re on a jury and not supposed to read about local news, maybe you just came home from Iraq and want a break from news about the war, or maybe you find a particular news organization’s work distasteful.

    Great article — I’ve been playing with various slick RSS news readers and found them unnecessary when I can just go to the website. These give a much stronger reason to have use a separate news app.

    [Minor issue: Communitee 2nd paragraph: I think friend should be plural.]

  • http://www.facebook.com/podolyan.roman Roman Podolyan

    I worked on News 360 developing team, and I’m very glad and pleased that you chose our app among many others for the post on you top quality freeware blog.

    Thanks for review!