Circa was kind of a perfect mobile news app. It had a minimal UI, it was really fast at updating users with breaking news, all while writing the content in-house. The news articles were written in bite-size chunks. And updates to articles were added in the same story. It was awesome. Until it wasn’t.
Circa got a lot of users, overworked a lot of their employees. But without a clear monetization plan, it was difficult to survive. They closed shop on June 24th. But Circa was a thought leader in this category and showed us the need for a mobile-first news reading app with just the right balance of notifications.
A perfect substitute to Circa doesn’t exists. But there are many apps that come close. Some believe that NYT Now app was a clear response to Circa. If you’re in the market for a mobile news reader that offers mobile friendly news and notifications for important breaking news, check out the apps below.
1. Breaking News +
This is the perfect app for headline junkies. You know, the people who need to know what’s happening always but mostly just read news headlines. Hey there’s no shame in that.
Breaking News + (Android, iOS) does a couple of cool things. First, it gives you notifications about things that are important to you. For instance, you can subscribe to breaking news happening around your city or a topic that you follow (like the Greek debt crisis). Plus, each topic has a nice timeline of stories.
The app differs from the rest in the list in one peculiar way. It doesn’t write its own content. So when you do get that notification, you’ll need to open a web page to read the article. Now, the app does a great job of finding the best sources. Still, it doesn’t make for an integrated experience.
As I said above, Breaking News + is the best app for people who want to be notified about news relevant to their location and interests but don’t really plan on catching up on the exact details right then and there.
2. BuzzFeed News
BuzzFeed News’ coverage is mostly limited to US because that’s where their journalists are based. The app comes from the relatively new journalism arm of BuzzFeed.
When you open the app (currently iOS only), you’ll see summaries of the biggest stories, updated every couple of hours. Below you’ll find latest news in the US, politics, business, and technology.
BuzzFeed has a separate Alerts section where you can subscribe to notifications for major breaking news as well as other topics like technology and US politics.
3. NYT Now
NYT Now (iOS only) has a lot of firsts going for it. It’s the first app from the legendary publication that you can use without signing up for an account and it’s completely free. Also, it’s an editorially curated app. NYT editors make 30 stories a day available for reading.
The best thing about NYT Now other than the quality of the writing and reporting is the reading experience. The app is a joy to use, the articles load really fast in the built-in browser. I’m yet to run into an ad.
4. Inside.com – Breaking News
Inside (iOS, Android, Web) takes a curated approach to delivering stories. To use the app to the fullest, you first need to create an account, then select topics that interest you. The app will then populate results based on the topics and send you notifications for the important stuff.
Everything in Inside is dependent on the curators. Users who take time from their life to not only share stories but to write a concise summary that you see in your feed. These summaries are a great way to learn about the news without reading the article. But of course, based on this model Inside will only be as strong as their curators. So far it seems to be working. Just like topics, you can view curators and writers and follow them.
5. News in Shorts (India specific)
News in Shorts (Android, iOS) is an India specific app which delivers breaking news in just 60-word summaries. It’s the perfect app for people who want to stay up with the news but don’t want to read long articles about it.
The app works well in covering the biggest general news along with politics and tech news.
What’s your favorite news reading app? Share with us in the comments below.