Sunday, December 15, 2013

App introduction: Play Newsstand

A few weeks ago Google released Play Newsstand (Kiosk).

Google Play Newsstand

What is Google Play Newsstand?

Basically Google Play Newsstand is a combination of Magazines, Currents and even the Google Reader, most likely to replace this other apps I would guess.


Magazines is an app where you can read and subscribe newspapers and magazines, free and payed content. At the moment it's not available in Germany, but hopefully this will change some time soon ...


Currents is another newsreader app which mostly focused on web content. You can subscribe different news, they are managed into different categories and there is an offline mode too.


Reader is the RSS feed reader app / service from Google that has been shut down last summer.

Functions of Play Newsstand

So Google Play Newsstand combines all three of them into one app. The presentation is very pleasant and clear along with a easy and intuitive navigation and it's just great that RSS feeds can be added for your daily reading into one app as well.

RSS feeds along with other articles.

Another feature is that Newsstand will learn from your reading habits and suggest articles that might interest you. For what I have experienced so far, this works really well. The suggestions become better and better by time.

Suggestions based on your habits.

Also when you have used Currents before, Newsstand will import your subscriptions automatically.

Subscriptions in the section My News.

For thous who have to deal with capacity limits on mobile data usage the app also has an offline mode and the download settings can be set to WiFi only or even only while charging as well.

On device only for offline reading.

Different parts/menus

The navigation within the app is done by different views that can be selected by the menu, or simply by swiping left or right.

Navigation menu

Read Now

Read Now contains the latest news out of the subscriptions and suggestions based on your habit. Of course you can add suggested feeds to your subscriptions as well to keep track on them.

Suggested topics in the category Technology.

Content of the category Technology.

My News

My News contains all subscriptions, this includes also RSS feeds. With the little pin symbol the content can be marked for reading offline. This means the app will automatically download this content to make it offline available. Also when the option for "On device only" is selected, subscriptions that are not marked for offline are not shown in the list.

My News in offline mode.


For each article a bookmark can be set so you can find it easy again to read it later or just to keep it.

Bookmarked articles.


In this area you can explore new feeds, news and authors sorted by categories and add them to your subscriptions. A direct search function is available as well.


Reading articles

When opening a subscription or feed the articles are often (depending on the author) separated into different categories (like News, Reviews, YouTube, Google+, ...), that can be reached by simply swiping left/right. This is actually a huge improvement to the navigation used in Currents where you had to pick a category by the menu at top or scroll all the way down to the next categories.
The articles it self are scroll able by scrolling up/down. 
Also the animation of the profile picture and its background switching current pictures form the articles is made very nicely. Articles already read are listed in black/white color by default so its easy to see what you have read before.

Android Central - Category News

Android Central - Category Videos

Within an article its simple up and down scrolling to navigate through. Left and right scrolling leads to the next or previous article of that subscription.

Article view


For me Newsstand is a great combination of what I used before because I was using Currents mainly as my daily (tech) news app. Further on I was trying to keep track of some RSS feeds with a different reader app (mostly feedly) and some common news by social networks. I also tried Flipboard a few times but I never really liked it. Don't get me wrong, Flipboard's navigation and look are great, just the way they collect news from social networks where all so often the articles are shown in a completely different look, only show one or two sentences (like most RSS feeds) and then need to open it in a browser, no really offline mode and so on never got me to like it much.
To have all what I need combined in one app with great look and feel along with an offline mode is just great for me. I only wish that the support for Magazines will come to Germany soon as well.