All the Apps
There is an ocean of apps to 'improve' your tablet reading experience. We've collected some of the best for aggregating, saving, sharing, personalizing and comfortably reading news from all over the web. Get what you want out of the day's best stories.
Skim by Headline
These apps collect headlines from around the web and present them in a fast, easy-to-skim format, to keep you up to date from minute to minute. MSN Canada brings MSN news to the iPad, with an attractive, customizable, horizontal slider interface. Pulse has sliders organized into sources and categories. Its panel design lets you read articles in-app and browse at the same time. Taptu is similar to Pulse, but with a stronger focus on bookmarking and social media integration. Trove packages articles into highly specific channels, and suggests new ones by analyzing your social media accounts and offering a daily "editor's picks" box. Google Currents brings Google News' unparalleled personalization to the iPad, with category sliders, links to multiple sources and Google account syncing.
Skim by Photo
Similar to headline aggregators, visual aggregators collect stories in an efficient, skimmable format, but with an emphasis on photo and video instead of headlines. SkyGrid gives you a photo grid of top stories from around the web. Each article is tagged with a category icon that allows you to rapidly find similar stories. News360 has a "360 view," in which floating photos slide past the screen as you scroll left-to-right. Tap a photo to read the story. Hitpad ($2.99) analyzes news from a variety of sources and presents a list of refined news topics for the day, like "Mitt Romney" or "Tuberculosis." Tapping a topic will show articles, videos, photos and social posts about it.
While most news aggregators are automated, a few use human editors to comb the web and select the most interesting and relevant stories of the day. Newsy offers video summaries of developing news, patching together information from top news sites like CNN.com and The New York Times. The Daily is the first newspaper designed exclusively for iPad. It offers original, staff-written content full of visuals, videos and graphics. Official Drudge Report brings your favourite news hawk onto the iPad, complete with Courier New typeface. Huffington Post has a "newsguide" feature with customizable sliders similar to a headline aggregator, but with stories reported by the Huffington Post.
Subscribe to RSS
RSS readers allow you to subscribe to updates from your favourite sites. There are dozens for the iPad, most are expensive, a few stand out. MobileRSS HD (free lite version/$4.99) is a powerhouse, great for organizing a large number of RSS feeds and reading in-app. It's integrated with every social media and bookmarking service under the sun. Feedly has several preprogrammed RSS lists for anyone new to Google Reader. Its main advantage is its stylish interface and (lack of) price. The Early Edition 2 ($4.99) creates a traditional-style newspaper from your feeds, complete with table of contents and a list of trending keywords to help you see what's popular in your feeds.
Magazine-style services sacrifice volume of headlines for clean, aesthetically pleasing layouts, with photos and text previews to help you decide what to read. Editions by AOL puts together a magazine with a sleek, minimal feel, featuring stories collected by AOL news and customized to your tastes. Flipboard creates a set of flip-books based on categories you choose, as well as articles pulled from your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Zite analyzes your online reading preferences from your bookmarking, social media and RSS accounts, and creates a "personal magazine" with stories it thinks you will like. Google Currents offers magazine-style digital reading for top media sites like Forbes, The Daily Beast and Scientific American, in addition to Google News aggregation.
Build your library
Bookmarking apps let you do your own collecting of stories from around the web, and then save them for offline reading or even organize them by category tags and favourites. Instapaper ($4.99) turns your saved articles into mini e-books, with an elegant interface and a host of user-experience controls like night reading and text size. The "Friends" feature newsifies your Twitter and Facebook feeds, similar to Flipboard. Readability is similar to Instapaper and has many of the same user-experience options, but makes better use of iPad swipe gestures. Pocket (formerly Read It Later) presents saved articles as a photo gallery and allows you to switch back and forth between e-reader and browser views in-app.
What friends are reading
Make reading the news a social experience through integration with Twitter, Facebook and other services that let you share what you're reading and see what others find. FLUD is both a headline aggregator and social network. Read headlines sorted by category, website, most read, editor's picks and RSS. "FLUD" them to share with other users. News.me posts articles you and other Twitter users read to a newsfeed with short headline and text previews. Tap someone you follow to see what they've read recently. Delicious Bookmarks Discovery ($3.99) is an attractive front-end for Del.ici.ous, a "social bookmarking" network that allows you to create a public library of bookmarks, add friends and follow curated lists.
User-powered aggregation services such as Digg, Reddit and Fark allow users to post, vote and comment on recent news stories. Stories that netizens think are most important and interesting rise to the top. Mobile Reader for Fark ($1.99) offers news for the eccentric, tagged by readers according to level of weirdness. DiggMixer ($0.99) is a Digg client that allows you to set the amount of stories you see from each category using sliders (similar to Google News personalization). Alien Blue ($3.99) is the best client around for Reddit, the Internet's most popular news forum. It provides a clean, functional, customizable interface with wood-panel accents and in-app posting and commenting. StumbleUpon helps you find something to read. Tapping "stumble" pulls up a random article it thinks you'll like based on ratings by you and other users.
There are many more niche content aggregator services, but some are unique enough to stand apart. Paper.li is a social service that lets you "be your own publisher." Users create news pages through curation, searches and Twitter hashtags. The service is useful for tracking the hyperlocal (say, wildfires in Texas) or such extremely specific interests as fly fishing, cybersecurity or app developer job news. Stitcher Radio helps you build a library of talk radio shows and podcasts. Search news programs by category and source and save them for offline listening. Zinio is a newsstand for digitized print magazines. It lets you browse thousands of print magazines, purchase, store and read them. It's great for finding back-dated issues.