Interesting is a Boring News Reader

News aggregators and discovery tools are among the most popular apps in the App Store. The most popular, such as Flipboard, attract a major following and are staples to the smartphone experience. Others tend to be more niche: some offer specific sources, or integration with other services. Interesting promises to be more of the latter, but with a playful design and emphasis on subjects that the technically savvy are most likely to enjoy.

Interesting launches in to a saturated market. The news aggregator has been tried in almost every possible form: from digital magazine to traditional list, there’s not much differentiation to be found in the presentation of content.

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Is it Different?

Interesting basically stays away from that. While certain UI elements have been customized to give the app a playful, distinctive feel, the content is simply displayed in list form. Instead, the app relies upon its sources and categories to offer something special for the user.

Interesting's individual categories are easy to browse, as the navigation is a simple list.

Interesting’s individual categories are easy to browse, as the navigation is a simple list.

Swiping to the right reveals the curated categories: make no mistake, Interesting is not for everyone. In fact, the app appears to skew specifically towards designers, as it includes a category for Dribble.

Other categories include design and technology, news and politics, entertainment and TV, sports, and Reddit. The app essentially covers the bases, but then goes the extra mile to cater to a specific audience. It’s actually quite a nice touch, and I can see it being useful for those more interested in design.

Sources Aren’t Everything

In terms of sources, almost every respected news outlet is represented. Stories come in quickly, and they load just as fast. Again, this isn’t content based on social curation; it comes from specific sources that are likely to be popular among those who would want this app.

Interesting is able to quickly load news from its sources, making refreshes easy to perform on even the slowest of connections.

Interesting is able to quickly load news from its sources, making refreshes easy to perform on even the slowest of connections.

The articles are loaded in what appears to be a standard web view. As such, the speed is great, as web view is based upon the same rendering engine that powers Safari. If a mobile site is available, Interesting will use it. There are sharing capabilities, but they are very limited and appear to be only what iOS supports. You can navigate through articles and source links in the web view, thanks to the back and forward arrows.

Is it Better?

As I mentioned, Interesting is playing in a crowded market. There are news apps to fit almost any lifestyle or preference, and most of them are perfectly adequate for everyday use. In order to compete with these apps, Interesting has to bring something unique to the table, something that tries to push the envelope forward, and convince users to buy it over other options — some of which are free.

Interesting's article view is incredibly basic -- some might like it, but I prefer something that is more native to the iPhone.

Interesting’s article view is incredibly basic — some might like it, but I prefer something that is more native to the iPhone.

The only “feature” that could possibly be that are the handpicked categories and sources. In a world that revolves around social integration, Tweets, and Facebook Likes, Interesting cuts to the chase and offers sources that the developer thinks is interesting. Obviously, many will disagree. Others may agree — the app’s high rating on the App Store proves as much.

Features? Absent

The content is there. But not much else is, and that is ultimately my biggest complaint with Interesting.

Interesting feels like an experiment. Whether that experiment was with the content, or with the design, remains to be seen, but it doesn’t feel like a competitive app in this day and age.

The share options are there, but the only options included are those built directly in to iOS.

The share options are there, but the only options included are those built directly in to iOS.

The design is charming and puts its custom UI elements to good use. No complaints there. My complaint lies within the feature set, and within the interaction of the app. Using the app feels incredibly vanilla, like the developers didn’t want to take the time to add special animations or gestures in order to delight the user. The app feels like it would have been more at home in iOS 5 or 6 than in iOS 7.

Some will find this to be nice. These are also the people who likely seriously dislike iOS 7 and the level of animation and gestures it brings to the iPhone.

Final Thoughts

Apple is often critiqued for emphasizing form over function. This rarely turns out to be the case (though it has in the past; puck mouse!), but it is an error that most companies must be wary of. Developers can also suffer from this issue.

Reddit integration is also included, and this is likely where most of the interesting news will surface first.

Reddit integration is also included, and this is likely where most of the interesting news will surface first.

Interesting is a lovely news app, if all you care about is the design of a few icons. The sources are robust, and the categories cover your basic news items for the day.

Aside from some social sharing features, that is literally all the app does. The price is low, but so is the feature set. In such a crowded market, Interesting isn’t able to provide a compelling reason to choose it over Flipboard, Circa, or various other news apps, many of which are available for free. I can’t recommend that you buy this app, even if the idea of being free of social integration is compelling to you. After all, the iPhone comes with a fantastic web browser, and you can always bookmark a few sites to visit and read — that is, functionally, equivalent to Interesting.


Summary

Interesting is a news aggregator with an interesting design, but it lacks features that make other options stand out.

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