Reporting that the App Store is brimming with news aggregators for the iPhone and iPod touch is, well, yesterday’s news. Many are utilitarian and plain looking affairs—essentially lists of linked news sources with built-in browsers. They’re fine as far as they go, which sometimes isn’t very far at all. An exceptional few have the graphic pizzazz to match the stylishness of the device for which the app was built.
John Cotant’sNews Rush and News Rush Pro for the iPhone and iPod touch have a pretty interface and link to a ton of news sources. But the diversity and quantity of sources is undermined by the near total absence of customizable features.
News Rush and News Rush Pro are competing with aggregators such as TapMode’s News Addict and Hassan Hosam’s News Fuse, which also seek to give readers a multiplicity of news sources in an easy-to-use, graphically appealing design.
In a head-to-head match with News Addict, News Rush Pro would prevail easily in terms of the sheer number of sources on display: More than 115 news and social media sites versus News Addict’s 41. (The $1 News Rush would beat News Addict by half-a-dozen or so. The only significant difference between News Rush Pro and News Rush, apart from price, is the number of sources. Pro includes several social networking, sports and tech news sites, in addition to the “traditional” news media links.)
But even the hopeless news junkie won’t consume that much news. Trouble is, there is no way to customize your sources in the News Rush apps. You cannot delete sources you never read. And it should go without saying that you can’t add any sources that you might want but that the developer may not have been included. At the very least, News Rush needs some sort of filter or favorites option for users to organize their news more effectively.
Also, the developer makes a claim that doesn’t quite bear the weight of scrutiny: “All of the sources are tailored specifically for your device.” This is, strictly speaking, not true. Although most of the sources do indeed link to the sites formatted for mobile devices, not all do. News Rush does not always compare favorably to several news organizations’ own native iPhone applications. The New York Times app, for example, which has improved markedly over the past year, was built specifically for the iPhone. The News Rush link simply loads the New York Times’s mobile feed, which is more of a challenge to navigate. So I would never use News Rush to read the Times. The interface simply cannot compete.
That said, when News Rush is at its best, you can expect fast load times with a Wi-Fi, 3G, or EDGE Network connection to the Internet. And the app’s internal browser has a couple of nice features. You can tap the top of the screen to jump back to the top of a story, and the app supports streaming audio and video. The navigation tools are clean, spare and easy to use. To exit a news site, you simply tap on the menu button at the bottom of the screen.
News Rush is a capable aggregator. The developer promises more sources in future updates. As long as there is a way for users to separate the useful from the less useful sources, that’s good news indeed.
[Ben Boychuk is a columnist and freelance writer in Rialto, Calif. Feel free to e-mail him.]