News.me: Crowdsource Your News

Having such a simple premise, Twitter has been able to be translated to many different platforms and user interfaces. While the quasi-stock Twitter app is a great way to access the social network, as well as third-party apps like Tweetbot, wouldn’t it be cool if an app could pick out the stories posted to your stream, so you can get access to the news you care about, while leaving the commentary for later? That’s where News.me comes in.

News.me is an iPhone app that filters and processes your Twitter and/or Facebook streams to pick out the links your friends and followees have posted that will interest you. While not being recommended as a replacement Twitter app (simply because it uses Twitter as a source, but doesn’t let you actually interact with it), it does offer you a quick way to access crowdsourced news without all the commentary and more social-oriented posts. Let’s take a look at it after the jump.¬†

Getting Started

Being completely driven by the world’s two major social networks, Twitter and Facebook, News.me has an incredibly simple setup. You simply tap the social network you want to login to in order to get setup (and, if it’s Twitter you’re logging in to, News.me will tap into iOS 5’s integration so you don’t even have to type in any credentials).¬†Fortunately, unlike many similar types of app, News.me doesn’t require you to hold an account with them in order to use the app; that’s one less thing to manage.

The main views you'll be using News.me in: the timeline-based feed and the individual article view.

The main views you'll be using News.me in: the timeline-based feed and the individual article view.

Once you’ve signed up, you’re pretty much ready to go and News.me will use your social connection to start pulling in, sorting and presenting news stories to you. It’s literally that simple, and its integration into a service you likely already use is highly appreciated, especially convenient as you probably don’t have to enter credentials anyway.

The central feed in News.me pulls in stories from your connected social networks.

The central feed in News.me pulls in stories from your connected social networks.

You can go further by heading to the app’s settings, where you can add the other social network you didn’t before (ie Facebook or Twitter). You can also follow (and, in return, be followed) by people on News.me itself, by using the Find Friends feature within your profile. This doesn’t seem to be necessary, nor offer much benefit if you already follow the people on Twitter, so it’s nothing to worry about if you don’t want to use it.

Your Daily Digest

News.me is ultimately a pretty minimalist app where you’ll primarily reside in a single column view of all the posts in your stream. Posts are pulled in from your social networks, and the list can be easily refreshed by the now famous swipe-down-to-refresh gesture.

When you come to actually read a post, you’re presented with it’s title and an image from the post if applicable. Underneath it, you’ll also be shown the reason that it’s in your stream since it lists the Twitter, Facebook or News.me user that the link originated from. If they added commentary to the link, that will be shown too so you’re not completely independent from the social network itself.

News.me activity is shown in a feed (left) while you're able to find fellow users through social networks (right).

News.me activity is shown in a feed (left) while you're able to find fellow users through social networks (right).

When you click through onto an article, it’s presented in a Readability-style view that takes away the clutter of the regular web to give you an enhanced reading experience that i’m a big fan of, here and elsewhere. You’ll also be able add a reaction from a list of presets (such as “Ha!”, “Awesome” and “Really?”) for your fellow News.me users to view, as well as being able to view links from the same website (but not necessarily the same user).

Naturally, you can also share articles through the action button to your social network of choice or via email.

Social options within News.me.

Social options within News.me.

If you do invest in the social aspect of News.me, you can use the top-left button to view the reactions your friends have made to content. That way, you can further reduce the clutter of your Twitter feed to just the content that is actually interested, based on your friends. Additionally, through that same button, you can access your “Reading List”, a list of articles you’ve saved from your primary feed.

A Breath of Fresh Air

I’ve used apps like this before, such as Flipboard. That app got a lot of hype but I hated it; it always seemed pretty haphazard and random. News.me is the complete opposite, and actually presents socially generated links in an organised, chronological stream. Like Readability does for the web, News.me clears off all the clutter of a social network to just get the juicy stories to you.

News.me’s execution of the concept is top notch, and definitely works. It has a strong user interface and is a stable app that you won’t find issue with. It’s minimalist, so you’re not likely to get confused with layers of navigation either. The settings panel is slightly hidden, but that’s hardly a major criticism considering you probably won’t frequently use it.

If you’ve got an iPad, check out the separate [non-universal] iPad version of News.me, also available for free in the App Store.


Summary

A simple, minimalist Twitter/Facebook client that picks out linked stories and aggregates them into a useful stream of stories.

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