News aggregation is typically not a pretty task. But with the launch of Google Currents yesterday, a new app for Android, iPhone, and iPad, even beginners have a tool for easily creating the perfect news mix.
After failing to acquire Flipboard, as BusinessInsider reports, Google has built a worthy rival. While magazine-like news aggregator Flipboard has dominated the iPad market with its graphic-heavy interface and simple flip motion, Google has debuted a more flexible approach that changes the game. A lack of need for RSS feeds or social media sources, combined with the ability for publishers to brand their own content, makes Currents a completely different animal under the hood.
First, Currents allows reader to directly choose sources from over 150 publishing partners, including Wamda (we’re excited to make our debut on the app). Each source shows up as a simple tile on the homepage.
After the reader selects a single source, Currents offers several viewing options that readers can toggle through with a simple sideswipe. This is relatively standard in news viewing apps lately, but Google makes switching between topic view, a list view, and a page-by-page view especially intuitive.
Readers can also flip through top stories across all sources in a main slider, or step outside their curated feed with “Trending,” which lists the top five stories globally across different categories like Technology and Business.
One key limitation of Google’s app is that, as TechCrunch points out, it doesn’t allow users to see what others have posted from Currents on their social media accounts, something that is part of the fun of Flipboard. This approach fits with Google’s determination to axe Wave and the sharing function on Reader, ostensibly to drive social interaction to Google+.
But on the plus (pun intended) side, Google is completely opening up the platform to allow publishers to design and brand their own content within Currents. This makes Currents much, much more than a news aggregation app; it’s now essentially a free mobile publishing platform ideal for small media outlets or NGOs. Another bonus is that it offers integration with Google Analytics so publishers can assess app traffic.
The app's development has been led by Jordanian entrepreneur Sami Shalabi. Shalabi, who co-founded YallaStartup along with Wamda CEO Habib Haddad and Woopra founder Elie Khoury. Shalabi joined Google after famously selling his mobile social platform Zingku to Google in 2007, and has been working as the technical lead on Currents. We here at Wamda have had early access to it and have been enjoying the magic.
While it has only been released in the U.S. Android App Store and Apple App Store so far, it will come to this region soon. Once you download it, you can select "Add More" on the homescreen and search for "Wamda" in Google's set of sources to add us. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Screenshot and demo video below: