Google Currents is Google’s new Flipboard-style news magazine for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices. I say Flipboard style because that seems to be the comparison lots of people are making in initial responses to its release. Here’s a slice of how Google themselves describe the new app on the Google Mobile Blog:
We strive to give you beautiful and simple ways to experience all the content the web has to offer, such as sharing photos on Google+, watching YouTube videos and discovering books, movies and music from Android Market. Today we’re expanding our content offering with the introduction of Google Currents, a new application for Android devices, iPads and iPhones that lets you explore online magazines and other content with the swipe of a finger.
They’ve partnered with over 150 publishers to offer full-length articles – publishers that include CNET, AllThingsD, Forbes, PBS and more big names. There’s also some sort of self-service platform for publishers.
I’m a huge fan of Flipboard and of iPad magazines in general, so of course I installed Google Currents as soon as I saw it mentioned earlier today. I’ve only spent a very short while with it so far, but I’ve got some quick notes and thoughts on it – hit the break for those and a couple more screenshots …
Just some quick first impression type notes:
— It’s quite fitting that the app is called Google Currents rather than just Currents – as it seems very Google-centric at every turn so far. When you first launch it you’re prompted to sign-in with a Google account. I didn’t see any other options like you have in Flipboard and other similar iPad magazines – where any email address or Facebook or Twitter ID will genearlly suffice. When you tap to share an article, the top choice and the only one with an icon next to it is Google’s +1 – followed by email, Instapaper, Pinboard, Tumblr – and Facebook and Twitter down at the bottom (because nobody uses those right?).
— Once you’ve signed in there’s a short tutorial you’re prompted to swipe through. It’s pretty quick and painless, and probably not necessary for veteran iPad magazine and news app users.
— After the tutorial the app loads up a handful of sources it provides ‘to get you started’. These include Forbes, Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Daily Beast and a few more. You can easily get rid of any you don’t like.
— There are various ways to add more content sources to your ‘library’. You can browse the app’s Featured and Recommended sections, browse by category (News, Business, Entertainment, Science & Tech, Sports and so on), add Curators to follow (people like Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki), add feeds from your Google Reader subscriptions, or search for topics or individual sites. If you search for iPad Insight you’ll find this site. It will show it as just a feed link and won’t populate with content right away when you add it – but give it a minute or two and it will load it up.
— It’s interesting that the button next to each source you add says ‘Add for free’. I haven’t seen one yet with a price on it instead, but it sure seems like that may be coming sometime.
— The main page of the app has two main sections – Library (where all your chosen sources go) and Trending. Trending shows what’s trending now, as the name implies. You can toggle on and off which areas you see within Trending – areas include Top Stories (Top 5 trending stories across all categories – on by default), World, Business, Sports, Technology, Health, and more.
As just a very quick first impression, I’d say Google Currents looks promising. I’m not crazy about ho closely it ties you into everything Google, but heck, I use most of the apps and services anyway. I don’t think it looks anywhere near as nice as Flipboard so far, but it’s well done I think. I’ll spend lots more time with this app in coming days and I’ll likely review it once I have.
Here’s an App Store link for Google Currents; it’s a free app and a universal app designed to run on both iPad and iPhone.