Flipboard is probably the most elegant app for reading news on an iPad (and now on the iPhone). Apple called it the iPad app of the year in 2010 and its success made other companies release magazine-like apps for reading news: Yahoo Livestand and now Google Currents.
Google’s offering allows publishers to create mini-apps inside Google Currents. They can combine multiple feeds, photo streams and video streams, Google+ updates, create custom sections, add an icon and a splash page, customize the template and more. There are already 180 “editions” from sites like AllThingsD, Fast Company and more, but any site can be converted to an “edition” if it has a feed.
Currents is available in the US for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. You can only use it after signing in to your Google account, which has the benefit that all the settings are synced and you can read the same editions on different devices. You can add one of the built-in editions, import some of your Google Reader subscriptions or use the search feature to find blogs and news sites. Google also shows some popular stories from Google Trends.
“Great content needs a great audience, which is why Google Currents is integrated with Google+ so users can share articles or videos they’ve enjoyed with their circles. Publishers can also associate their account with Google Analytics in order to increase their awareness of consumers’ content preferences, device use and geographic distribution,” informs Google.
Google Currents automatically paginates articles, creates table of contents and emphasizes photos. The articles are synchronized, so you can read them even offline. This is especially useful if you have an Android device because the articles can be synchronized in the background.
Currents is a good alternative to apps like Flipboard and Pulse, but it doesn’t integrate with Facebook and Twitter, the interface is not that smooth and it uses too many resources.