With the release of iOS 9 comes an Apple-branded News app that aggregates news from a number of sources based on your interests and provides you with a collection to scan through. Apple is even recruiting journalists to constantly curate the news behind the scenes and make tailored recommendations. However, if you’re a longtime iPhone user and news enthusiast, none of this should sound unfamiliar.
Other apps have been aggregating and customizing news for several years now – for iPhone, iPad and even Android. What’s more, they’re all perfectly capable and arguably more powerful than Apple News since the latter is so late to the game. If you’re interested in looking elsewhere for your news, check out these five, free app alternatives to Apple News.
Flipboard is arguably the most prominent app Apple is competing against with News app in iOS 9. Flipboard made its debut as an iPad exclusive in 2010 and gained significant popularity over the past few years as a universal app.
With Flipboard, you select the news sources and topics you’re interested in reading. These organize in a grid and when you tap one, Flipboard presents the news articles to you in a newspaper format. It rids of standard website distractions like sidebars and ads and just gives you exactly what you came for.
The app also integrates with social networks like Facebook and Twitter to pull in content your friends are sharing and organize those links inside their own newspaper-esque tile.
Plus, if you just want a quick overview of the general news for the day, Flipboard provides that too with The Daily Edition of the app. If you see a news article you like there, as always you can favorite it or add the source to your reading list.
Yahoo News Digest
Chances are a lot of people who don’t keep up with the news are getting exposure to it for the first time with iOS 9 and Apple News. Some will jump on board, others will remain careless. If you’re the type of person that avoids the news mostly because it’s too long to read, fear not.
Yahoo News Digest is an app that caters to anyone with an interest in the news but a lack of time to keep up with it. The app gathers news twice per day from well-known and respected sources and condenses the top articles every day into a few short paragraphs. You get to skim through every morning and every evening when it updates and you’ll typically never see more than 10 articles.
Tip: By default, Yahoo News Digest updates every morning at 8 a.m. and every evening at 6 p.m. However, you can adjust these in the settings to anywhere between 6 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 9 p.m., respectively.
They also span different topics as well. Usually the first two apps are general national and international news, followed by one top technology story, one top entertainment story, one top sports story and so on. The app is great for staying a little in the loop on a lot of different topics.
Circa News is very similar to Yahoo News Digest with a few key differences. The first is that in Circa News, everything you read is customizable more to the degree of Flipboard. You choose which topics and stories appear in the app and that’s what you can read. Choose from the regular feed when you open the app, or get a digest delivered daily like with Yahoo News Digest.
The other important difference is that Circa News updates stories after they’re published. In fact, it often publishes developing stories and updates with new snippets when there is more information. You can follow these breaking news stories to receive notifications every time new details get added. It’s a terrific productivity tool to stay on top of what you care about while keeping your focus on other things.
Zite is more along the lines of Flipboard with some unique characteristics of its own. Zite is more of a recommendation engine than it is a customized news aggregator. You do customize your news, but you “build” your Zite initially by just picking topics that interest you. These can be as broad or specific as you want, e.g. the entire music industry in general or Sam Smith.
Then the line between Zite and Flipboard becomes more blurred. When your topics are selected, Zite builds one giant magazine for you to flip through with your topics. It’s updated at any given point during the day. You can also filter it down to just viewing specific topics within the magazine.
When you’re finally on an individual story level, you can rate everything you rate so Zite becomes smarter about its recommendations for you. Adding interests within stories as you use the app also helps move the learning process along.
Wrap all of that up in a clean, easy-to-read design and Zite is a perfectly capable alternative to Apple News.
Flipboard and Zite are similar, Yahoo News Digest and Circa News are similar, so where does Facebook Paper come in? It’s actually carved a nice cozy spot for itself among the rest.
Facebook recognizes that for many, the social network is their primary source of news thanks to links that friends and pages share in the news feed. Using Facebook Paper is like playing with a deck of cards. Browse your news feed just like you would within the Facebook app, just by instead swiping between cards, each of which has a separate news story.
More importantly, integrate your favorite news sources by creating sections. Swipe down on the main screen and tap Edit Sections to build your own topical magazines and swipe between those. Flicking up on any link thumbnail opens the article within the app.
Facebook Paper is an impressive news aggregator and a beautiful way to browse your Facebook news feed all in one.