One thing that the iPad certainly isn’t short of is news apps. Go into the “News” section of the App Store and you’ll find pretty much every single permutation of RSS feed reader, “read it later” services such as Instapaper and Readability, feed aggregators from popular news sites such as BBC News and CNN and “personalised” news services such as Flipboard and Zite.
The latter are my definite favourite, as they allow you to sift through all the news to find the content that is both relevant and of interest to you. I never buy a daily newspaper and I don’t really use apps like BBC News seeing as I have to spend 10-15 minutes sifting through the wealth of news to find the stories that I want to read – usually it’s just the news, business and technology bits.
Well, this is where Editions comes in handy. I’m not going to insult you by explaining what a personalised news app is, but instead of being a feed aggregator (such as Flipboard), Editions actually creates your own personalised daily news “magazine” from the interests and sources you choose and you even get a pretend personalised subscription sticker on the front. Let’s take a closer look to see what it offers.
Editions, which is developed by AOL, is completely free from the App Store and is, in my opinion anyway, probably some of the best software the company has written (at least in the past 5 years anyway). Once you’ve downloaded and installed the app, Editions will ask you which sections you are interested in so it can help build your magazine around articles which you consider interesting.
Editions features an automatic delivery feature which you can customise to suit your needs. I, for example, set mine to download at 6:00 am every single morning so I can read my magazine on the way to work without having to eat up loads of mobile data downloading it. You can also set up push notifications so that the app notifies you when your new magazine is ready for delivery.
Browsing Your Magazine
Once your magazine has downloaded then it’s time to get reading it! The home page of your magazine features a top story from that day based on the sections you’ve chosen and, if you live in the US, Canada or UK and have entered your postcode into your profile page, a 3-day weather outlook.
Editions automatically retrieves any appointments from your iPad’s calendar and displays these prominently on the front page as well and, if you’ve linked Editions to your Facebook account, reminds you of your friends’ birthdays – a useful touch I feel as I use Editions far more than Facebook on my iPad!
The table of contents page features no surprises apart from a really easy way to browse through your magazine quickly and easily. You can also scroll through all the articles in your magazine really easy by tapping on the Articles button, which brings up a list of pieces all arranged by category.
Editions makes browsing the news a very easy and pleasant experience owing to its absolutely fantastic and simplistic user interface. Your articles are arranged in a grid with bigger articles getting more space and on average, you have about 3-4 articles a page.
On longer articles, you can simply swipe across the screen to read the complete article (however without any pictures or links), otherwise simply tap on the article to bring up the full version. Articles open in Editions’ built-in browser and, to help the app learn more about you and your interests, you can choose whether that article in question was of interest to you or not. Simply click on the tick next to the tag if you want to see more content with that tag, or on the cross if you want to see less.
Sharing content can be done straight from the article, and Editions can post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and can also send articles to “read later” services such as Instapaper and Read It Later. You can also bookmark articles for future reference.
Editions polls the most popular news sources in order to grab content for each individual section, however, you can tweak the app so you’re only seeing what is of interest to you. On the title page of each section (which features a top story), there is an option to edit each one, whereby you can add a particular news source (for example, The Verge), or follow particular products or companies (for example, the iPad or Microsoft).
All changes that you undertake in Editions (for example changing sections or customising them) are seen in your next daily magazine.
Editions is probably my favourite news app for the iPad and certainly the one that I use pretty much on a daily basis. I love the personalisation aspect of it and this feels a lot stronger than similar apps, such as Flipboard and Zite, where it is just displaying content that the app thinks is relevant to use. The interface is absolutely great, and for owners of the new iPad – Editions got its retina display update right at the beginning of April, meaning that it looks even better.
I don’t like the fact there is no choice to download data for offline use (this is certainly advantageous for people with only Wi-Fi iPads) and you pretty much have to remain connected to the internet if you want to fully browse the news articles within your magazine. However for a free app, and one from AOL, Editions certainly is a surprise and is definitely worth a look.