With all the exciting tech news, not to mention the eye-popping political news from Washington these days, it's a good time to uncover which Android and iOS apps are the best at delivering breaking news coverage and distilling the often heady brew of current events. And today is your lucky day, because we've put the big hitters through the paces to provide the inside scoop on the inside scoop. Here are the best news apps for iOS and Android.
The Washington Post
While the Washington Post vaulted into the national spotlight during the Watergate scandal in 1972, it was already becoming a respected paper with several Pulitzer Prizes under its belt. It's added dozens in the years since, with two more in 2018 for investigative reporting and national reporting. It has an app for Android and for iOS.
Thankfully, the app is as sharply done as the paper's journalism, and if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can get a free six-month trial and pay only $4 a month after that. That's decidedly the best value for a paper that produces this kind of quality and sheer volume, and it should arguably be at the top of your shopping list. If you don't have Prime, you can still currently get the Post for $10 a month or $100 a year.
The New York Times
The New York Times is no slouch either, with award-winning Watergate coverage of its own, and a whopping 125 Pulitzer prizes under its belt, winning six just in the last couple years. Its army of reporters and editors compile a towering stack of authoritative coverage on politics, entertainment, technology, science, and any other major news topic you could think of.
You can currently sign up for as little as $10 a month (or $4 for students) and get the news on your phone, tablet, or a web browser on your computer. You can get the Times for both iOS and Android.Thanks to geography, the Post arguably has an edge on the Times when it comes to covering Washington politics, but the Times has greater resources for national and world news, and its film, book, and TV reviews are considered definitive. If you live in the New York area, the Times also offers a pile of high-quality regional content every day.
The Wall Street Journal
Of the three newspapers on this list, the Wall Street Journal has the most expensive subscription; the best deal currently available is $18.50 a month for up to one year (though students can get it for just $49 a year right now). The Journal comes in both Android and iOS flavors.
However, the WSJ does offer a lot more insight into stock exchanges, personal investment portfolios, and high-profile business dealings. If you want to know how something in the news could affect your savings and pocketbook, the Journal is one of the most consistent beacons in the fog. Of the three papers in question, it's also distinguished by a reliably right-wing perspective, though that's expected with a business-focused publication.
Rather than creating its own news, Apple News aggregates it from around the web -- often from the Times and the Post. This free iOS-exclusive app made by Apple is pre-installed and widgeted on all iPhones and iPads -- and with MacOS Mojave, when it ships later this year.
If you tap the Following button at the bottom and then the blue "+Browse" button in the upper right, you can highly customize your news feed to prioritize the sources you trust and the topics you're most interested in; the more sources and topics you tag as favorites, the more Apple News will suggest, which can lead to an effectively endless river of content.
Overall, Apple News has a polished look and smooth navigation, though we'd like an optional dark theme for reading at night with less eye strain. In our testing, it tends to aggregate a wider variety of stories than Google News, though it can be more difficult to fully filter out the news sources that you don't care for.
Of all the news apps in this guide, it's arguably the most well-rounded, though Flipboard gives it a run for its money (more on that below), the latter of which also runs on Android and on the web.
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Unlike Apple News, Google News can be viewed in a web browser, and both iOS and Android users get an official free app. The web version used to be the only avenue to tell Google what sites to block and what sites you prefer, but the script has flipped, and now you need the mobile app to filter out undesirable news sources.
Google News used to have an entire section dedicated to regional news outlets, making it one of the best ways to get local coverage at a glance. Instead, the "For You" section's personalized feed has taken center stage, which you customize by tapping the three-dot menu next to each story. The menu gives you options like "More stories like this," "Fewer stories like this," and the option to hide all stories from that website.
The new version of the Google News app also lacks a dark mode on both Android and iOS, but the Android version does let you enable "mini cards," which shrink the images to let you focus more on the headlines themselves.
Flipboard is a free news aggregator with the visual polish of Apple News, but with the device compatibility of Google News, making it an interesting middle ground. When you open Flipboard for the first time in iOS or Android, it will ask you to identify topics of interest, then it will arrange a feed based on your input. If you want to add more, just swipe right and select from a list of hashtags, each of which shows you how many other users are following it.
The icon at the bottom with four squares in it will collect your topics into grid form, so you can tap one and just see the news in that category. Or you can tap the magnifying glass icon next to it and get a selection of news and topics curated by the Flipboard team. If that's not enough, you can select hashtags from within topics, so if you've added Politics, you can refine that further with suggestions like Elections, Conservative POV, Campaign Finance, and Democratic Party.
Perhaps the most interesting function is the ability to package your personalized feed and share it with other Flipboard users, and the ability to follow the packaged feeds of other users, some of whom are suggested and some of whom can be based on your Facebook, Twitter, or phone contacts. Considering everything that Flipboard can do, it's surprising that you can get it all for free.
- For iOS users, Apple News is a legitimately great way to get a substantial cross section of current events. On Android and in a web browser, Google News and Flipboard are excellent choices.
- For national political news, however, the New York Times and the Washington Post remain the best sources. Aggregators like Apple News and Flipboard can show you a limited number of articles every month from the Times and the Post, but you'll probably need to subscribe to those publications to get the full picture.
- How to get 6 months of The Washington Post for free, and then pay only 4 bucks a month (Download.com)
- Apple News app fights fake news with humans, launches new section on 2018 midterm elections (Download.com)
- Google releases free Podcasts app for Android; iOS version yet to come (Download.com)
- The new Google News app has arrived: Here's what you need to know (CNET)
- Apple's TV app for iOS: Now you can watch new 'live news' channels (ZDNet)
- How to add more news sources to the Google Assistant app (TechRepublic)