The Gist: Pulse presents rows of headlines and thumbnail images in a way that’s easy to scan. Major news outlets and blogs are the main fodder, but you can also add feeds from social networks and Google Reader. It’s available for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and Android tablets.
The Good: Dispenses with fancy visual gimmickry and gets straight to the information. Its Android home screen widgets help draw you into the app.
The Bad: Not much in the way of curation and discovery. Once you’ve picked your sources, that’s it.
Livestand by Yahoo
The Gist: Like Google Currents, Yahoo’s Livestand is focused on professional news sources instead of individual curators or social media feeds. Users choose from a list of featured sources or pick their favorites to arrange on a virtual bookshelf. They can also create their own composite source from multiple publications. It’s available for iPad only.
The Good: Highly stylized presentation makes even lowly blogs look like magazine features.
The Bad: Can’t customize without signing in to Yahoo or Facebook. Load times during navigation ruin the flow. Navigation icons aren’t intuitive, so the app relies heavily on nettlesome tutorials instead. Articles sometimes get truncated with no way to view them in full on the web.
The Gist: Zite calls itself a “Personalized Magazine,” but it’s more like a newspaper, with articles divvied up by category and laid out with several headlines per page. The main hook is customization, letting you give a thumbs up or thumbs down to each article, or ask for more of any topic, publication or author. It’s available for iPad only.
The Good: Setup and article intake are both really easy. When preset categories fail, you can create your own (with, say, your favorite sports team or local news).
The Bad: “Top Stories” don’t always seem like top stories. It’d be nice if the algorithms could tell what’s really important without user input.