The update to Google+ might have grabbed all the headlines, but Google has also served up a hefty update to its Google Currents app. Launched earlier as Google’s attempt at magazinifying news and RSS feeds – a la the likes of Flipboard – the initial version of the app received a lukewarm response, and when Google did not update it for a while, many were those (us included) who thought that the search giant had parked it on the backburner.

Oh how wrong we were!

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What’s new in Google Currents v2.0?

For Google has now hefted Google Currents to version 2.0, and in doing so, has totally reworked the look and feel of the app. Whereas in the past the app had a rather tame appearance (the iOS avatar still has it) of the top containing a few important stories with large pictures with icons representing links to your subscribed sites/feeds on the lower part, the new version seems to have borrowed some UI tricks from Windows Phone, and its worthiest rival in the RSS-as-digital-magazine format, Flipboard. Launching the app will now show you a series of full images related to the news from the channels/feeds you have subscribed you. You can either sit back and view them if you wish, or if you are in reading mode, slide your finger from the left side towards the right to reveal the channels and feeds you have subscribed to.

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These are not arranged in icon form as in the previous edition of the app, but are in the form of a column of names under different sections (again, a new touch – sections were not displayed in the earlier version of the app), each with its representative icon. You can add and remove subscriptions if you wish by using the “Add Subscription” and “Customize” options. However, the real magic of the app is evident only when you select a feed. So for instance, if you select The Guardian, you will get to see news items arranged in boxes from top to the bottom, often with large images in them. Tap on one and you get to the detailed story, which you can flick through. Flip to the right and you move to the next subscribed feed, which is also laid out in the same one-below-the-other boxed format. And if you are within a story and simply want to see the other stories in the subscribed feed without wishing to exit the story itself, just hit the Menu button on your device and the left side will show the other stories with brief intros, all arranged in a neat column. It is all fluid, fast and a whole lot easier on the eye as compared to the rather staccato format in the past version.

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There are some changes below the hood too. You can mark the app not to show stories that you have already read, save stories for later reference/ reading and in a new move from Google, access breaking stories from different sources and heads. Of course, the integration with Google Reader remains intact as do the options to share stories across social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and of course, Google’s own Google+. Yes, the app does not still give you a magazin-ed look at your social networks like Flipboard or Pulse, but if it is just plain news you are looking at in a format that is reader-friendly, then Google Currents just became of your best options on Android. We can already hear iOS user’s screaming for an update for their own version of the app. If you love reading about news and have an Android device with a display larger than 3.5 inches (we do think it would look better on larger displays), then this is an app you ignore at your peril.

Download from: Google Play
Price: Free

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Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.