Google Currents is a brand new and innovative way of exploring your favorite news and RSS feed subscriptions on your Android & iOS smartphones and tablets in a magazine-like interface. Being a news aggregator, Currents lets you add and view your favorite news sources and custom editions created with Google Currents Producer, in addition to displaying top-5 trending stories of the hour from a vast pool of categories including business, technology, entertainment, sports, health and science. The app syncs with your Google account, lets you explore all the content in offline mode, customize sync settings and share articles with your friends on the go.
Just to ensure that you get a better grip of all the features, the app takes you through a brief tutorial the first time you launch it. What follows is a neat, clean and uncluttered interface that reflects the new look that the latest versions of Google’s mobile operating system (Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich) and web services have adopted. The app displays a couple of tabs on its homescreen, namely Library and Trending. These carry the bulk of the app’s content.
The Library tab is dedicated to your added/favorite feeds and news sources whereas the Trending tab, as the name implies, displays all the hot-running news stories from categories of your choice. You can choose to view the web version of each article (and each link embedded in the article) within the app, or visit the source via the browser.
Under both said tabs, you have a tile with a plus (+) icon on it that can be tapped to add custom content. Be it your Google Reader RSS feed subscriptions, featured/popular or trending stories from a wide array of sources, all you need to do is tap the Add button to have it listed under the relevant tab on the app’s homescreen.
Although the app is pretty swift in downloading just the text part of each story, it does take some time syncing multimedia content, of course. Once syncing is done, you can explore entire blogs/webpages even while offline. Exploring content from within the app is a pleasing experience as the interface lets you swipe more than tap. Barring the flip-style animations, Google Currents is the closest that a news reading app for smartphones/tablets has come to match iOS’s famous Flipboard app.
From the app’s configuration point of view, there’s not much to tinker with. The only noticeable thing within the settings menu (tap Menu) is the option to associate your Google Account(s) with Currents, adjust Text size and various Sync settings. You can choose separate connection types (Wi-Fi and/or 3G/4G) for syncing articles and their images, specify a sync frequency (in hours) and choose not to sync images for articles under the Library and/or Trending tabs.
Currents’ interface has been designed to adapt perfectly to both your smartphone & tablet’s screen orientation – one of the few things that holds the app apart from iPhone variant of Flipboard.
Currents is a great app, but with heavyweight news readers the likes of FLUD, Pulse, Feedly, ChannelCaster, and of course, Flipboard in the market, it needs to add a few more goodies to stay ahead in the race; the first of which can be a nifty homescreen widget – a feature considered to be synonymous with apps from said genre. The inclusion of day and night reading modes and the option to bookmark favorite articles too would do the app a world of good.
Note that as of this writing, the app is available in the US Android Market and iTunes App Store only.