Google launched its answer to Flipboard on Dec. 8, Google Currents. It’s available for free in the Apple App Store and Android Market.
This post is a couple days late after all, so here’s my first take on it. I can’t say that I love it more than its rivals, Flipboard and Pulse; however it certainly has its own appealing taste to it.
If you downloaded your copy of the app from the Apple App Store you might have noticed the unimpressive 3-Star rating for the Google Currents. Not being a fan of Google+ app personally, I hesitated for a moment at the fear that Currents would be another ‘disappointment’ in my books. I read through a few of the comments and many seemed to be complaints about the difficulty of adding custom feeds to the app.
Taking note of this, I took a look at the app. First hurdle – I needed to login. I’m not against having the option to log onto an app to check out the contents but being forced(?) isn’t my cup of tea…
After logging in, my starter sources showed up along with a Flipboard-eske banner displaying featured articles. Navigating through the articles was actually very pleasant and interesting. The articles were arranged into a neat journal format and easy to read. That said, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before really. If you’re using Flipboard already, chances are you won’t be too impressed unfortunately.
One thing I didn’t like about these articles was that there was a limit to how many articles are displayed per source. Flipboard allows a pretty generous amount of articles to be read within a source, but I couldn’t find the equivalent settings for the Currents. Either it doesn’t exist or I couldn’t find it.
One other complaint is that Google should’ve added the “Add More” button on the menu bar instead of at the very end of the sources. I usually find myself selecting the Settings wheel at the bottom left of the screen when I want to add more sources/feeds, and swiping through pages of sources to get to the “Add More” button at the very end isn’t exactly convenient.
Adding feeds itself, however, is convenient. Google provides a list of Featured and Recommended sources, as well as a variety of categories to choose from. I could see some people feeling limited with the number of sources within each category but that’s where the “Search” feature comes in handy. Digital Cupcake is not one of the Featured sources (yet!) but I was able to search and add my RSS feed easily by simply typing in “Digital Cupcake” into Search.
Sharing is obviously one of the most important features of these readers and I think the Currents…well it doesn’t knock the competition out of the water, but it does its job just fine. Currents allow readers to share to Google +, Email, Instapaper, Pinboard, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.
Oh and one word of caution(?) – if you log out of your account on Currents, you lose all the currently downloaded sources/feeds. Once you log back in, Currents will take its time to download all the sources back again. Flipboard updates everything nearly simultaneously and seemingly much faster than Currents. Sources on Currents is updated in descending order while Flipboard and if the source that you want to read is at the bottom of that list, you just have to wait a while until everything downloads. The update speed isn’t exactly slow, but it’s not exactly blazingly fast.
I guess I pointed out more complaints than the things I liked about Currents in the post. In the end, I like Currents. It’s simple and clean, and gives me something else to read from other than that Flipboard. Most of the features that I like are something that’s been available with Flipboard for a while now (and Flipboard does a great job at it) and while Currents can nearly match those features, it’s not worth giving a standing ovation for them. There are still rough patches of the app that needs some fixing but I could honestly say that Currents is a promising app that I’ll be spending many hours reading from it.
Try it out and leave us a comment on what you think about the Google Current!