SmartNews is an Android app that offers to be the last news application that you'll ever need. How it goes about doing that is by offering up all the sources that you've come to expect of such an app in a minimal and easy to use piece of software. It's colorful, engaging and completely free to use as well. SmartNews is also friendly on your data plan and speedy thanks to SmartView, allowing you to see just the text and essential images, rather than load an entire web page for one story. With control over not only what sort of topics you want to read about, but also further control over individual sources, SmartNews has a lot to offer those looking for their next news app.
As with most things on Android, you'll first need to download SmartNews from the Play Store. Once you've done that, you'll be introduced to some key features.
SmartNews offers something pretty neat right out of the gate; a sort of digest feature which brings together all your chosen news and then choosing a preferred time for each of these slots.
Once you have this set up, you'll be introduced to a predefined set of topics and sources, and right away you can see the layout they were going for.
There are some niceties found throughout SmartNews, like this nifty little page turning animation.
Heading on over to the settings and you can change your sources. In the below shot, I have "untucked" some topics and currently dragging them around in terms of priority and order.
I would have liked more choices for topics here, but I can definitely see what they were going for here. You can have a little more granular control over things however when you add in specific sources you like as specific channels.
BuzzFeed is a guilty pleasure of mine, so we can add in that, and what's nice about the way SmartNews does things is that you're given a preview of the sort of news they cover.
Looking at the article view, you might be nudged to use the SmartView. To show you the difference, here is a Ryan Adams story in the SmartView:
As you can see, this is nice and clean looking - and easy on your data plan with less being loaded. Here's a look at the full version for comparison:
In the settings, you can also hook into your social accounts as well choose which edition you want to read, I would have really liked a UK Edition to be here in as well, but maybe that's coming in later versions.
There's a lot that I like about SmartNews, not least the fact that it's smooth, speedy and incredibly easy to use. It really does 'just work'. For me however, a highlight is the SmartView, I have unlimited data but many don't and even so, this makes every news story much, much cleaner and converting this into text is really, really quick. I never had to wait for this process to finish, so SmartView really is something of a time saver. I liked the fact that you can add in separate sources as channels in their own right as well. This meant that while I can remove tech as a source overall, I can add in one or two blogs I like for those times when I want to take a peek into the world of tech. I would however, have liked to see an option to add in manual sources - like Android Headlines, for example - and I was disappointed with the lack of a UK edition as well.
- Speed (4/5) - Nice and speedy, SmartNews gets the job done and it doesn't lag behind.
- Theme (4/5) - I like the sort of Newspaper look and feel to the app, but the highlight for me is how it makes any and every news story appear good-looking and manageable with SmartView.
- Features (4.5/5) - There are a few holes here and there in terms of functionality, but SmartNews mostly gets everything spot on.
- Overall (4.5/5) - With more editions and more sources to add channels to, SmartNews would be one of the ideal news apps out there.
- SmartView not only helps save a little data here and there, but it also makes everything much clearer.
- Ability to quickly and easily customise what news you see is a nice touch, and easy to understand.
- Completely free to use!
- Different colored tabs and moving page animation make this a pleasant app to use for reading article after article.
- More topics and sources would help expand its appeal.
- No UK edition, or other English-speaking editions for that matter.
Overall, there's a lot on offer here with SmartNews and it's an app that many will really take to, especially if they're fed up with the usual suspects. I do wish there was a UK edition, but to say there's all of the above on offer in a free app like this, it's hard to find too much to complain about.