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09 May, 2012

Google Currents [App Review]

Google Currents [App Review]

This was going to be a post about the recently leaked Flipboard app...

But it was a huge meh. The popular app that has been released for iOS is finally coming to Android later this year, and is going to be exclusively available on the yet to be released Samsung Galaxy SIII. The leaked app performance supposedly varied on different devices, and was pretty finicky on my own Galaxy Nexus, so I decided not to (p)review it. Plus there's a philosophical debate about using apps that were hacked from their original intended source.

However, this has renewed my interest in Google Currents, Google's own take on the visual RSS reader game.

I've always been confused on which RSS reader would best work for me. I've gone through the whole lot (at least for Android) such as Pulse and Zinio, and Google Reader. None of them presented themselves strong enough for me to keep using them for long.

Phone format, not too small, not too big
Then comes along Currents, which is more like a magazine service than a simple RSS feed catcher. The Providers (which could be any website, even me) can decide what the reader sees when they subscribe to their current. Subscribing to the Android Central current, for example, shows different sections of their website such as reviews, videos, their Google+ feed and whatever other posts they decide they want. The publisher can also elect to just show their plain 'ole feed from their blog if they don't want to get fancy.

Like any other reader, you can manually add a website's feed, and Currents will "convert" it into more of a magazine format. There's also a list of popular currents to subscribe to, from many of the major news source. Google Reader support is also built in (figures, right?) which lets you import whatever you've been subscribed to and add to Currents' format. Again I'm a Google-centric guy, but this just makes Reader another redundant app which really annoys me.

Reading an article on the tablet
The tablet experience is just as consistent, and scales up quite nicely if I do say so myself. Pictures are just as clear as they are on their original website. Along with video integration, which means you don't have to open an external website, a cool feature lets you view all the pictures in a particular article/post in a gallery-like feature without having to scroll to them individually.

The tablet format is just right
Any article that has been synced to the device will be available for offline reading, images too, depending on your settings. The initial push of Google Currents was focused on offline availability, but I can see it going farther than that. Loading of each provider's currents are fast, and lets you quickly get to reading.

I won't go into how much customization the providers have, but my own setup is in the following screenshot, more of an aggregator of my own posts. Kind of limited right now, but hopefully they start to support more feed types than simple RSS and Google's own services like Picasa.

Terrible colors... need to change that
You can download Google Currents for your device down below:

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