News that Doesn’t Flip: A Quick Look at Google Play Newsstand

Play Newsstand Logo

You know, I still hold a grudge against Google for shutting down their RSS reader last year. Furthermore, I think that re-branding the Android Market as the Google Play Store was a dumb idea. And the suite of apps that followed—Play Books, Play Movies and Play Music? Yeesh.

Yet here I am with a recommendation (albeit a mild one) for another Google news aggregator with a similarly awkward name: Google Play Newsstand. It’s certainly no Google Reader, and I’m only really using it because my other news browsing app went south.

Read on, and I’ll tell you the whole sordid story…

Feedly Fine, Flipboard Fucked

So I’m the guy who rounds up the mobile news most Monday to Friday afternoons—check it out if you haven’t already had the pleasure. A lot of the news comes from my RSS reader (feedly, if you’re asking) but I also use a separate news browser on my Android devices, so that I can catch important stories from other sources that I’d otherwise miss. Up until recently that news browser was Flipboard.

An instant hit on the iPad when it first came out, Flipboard did a pretty good job of combining something old—the experience of flipping through magazine pages—with something new—aggregating news via RSS. Their curated mobile news used to be fairly solid, but lately I’ve been noticing that the same blogs keep popping up over and over again. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Pocketnow

This is what got me to try Google Play Newsstand as a potential replacement.

Worst Name Ever

If you can get over the name—and the fugly app icon—Newsstand is actually a worthy alternative to Flipboard. Here’s how it looks on my Nexus 7 tablet:

Newsstand - My News

This is where you’ll see your subscriptions to topics and/or individual blogs. For additional topics and sources you can either tap on “Add More” or hit the hamburger menu at the top-left corner, then tap on “Explore”.

Newsstand - Explore

Here you’ll find a highlight of topics curated by Google. There are sub-categories as well—in fact, pretty much any search term can be saved as a topic. And when it comes to mobile tech I’m happy to report that sources are many and varied.

Newsstand - Read Now

This is the main reading interface, which uses Google’s familiar card UI—or mini-cards if you want more information per screen.

Newsstand - My Mags

Good guy Google, the apparent saviour of the magazine industry, has graciously provided these sample titles to get me to buy something. They clearly don’t know me at all…

So that’s Newsstand. I myself am not so interested in the paid content there, but it’s been a good source for mobile news in the week or so that I’ve been using it. Since it’s probably already present on your Android device anyway, why not give it a try?

Or if you’ve something better to recommend, I’m all ears…