Thank you to Brett Prior (Twitter username bprior22) for submitting this Reader Tutorial! We appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to write such a comprehensive article. Enjoy!
I have been quite disappointed with the lack of news aggregator apps in the Android market. Yes, I realize there is NubiNews (what’s with that cow anyways?) and Handmark’s Express news, but they leave me feeling unsatisfied with their lack of customization. NubiNews simply gives you a one-stop-shop for a number of news sources for you to haphazardly rummage through. Frankly, the app just gives me a headache. I am looking for a solid news aggregator that can give me concise information, without the relentless crate digging.
I then decided to take matters into my own hands rather than waiting for a developer to come out with that “perfect” news app. One site us Android folks are familiar with is “Google News.” I have always been a fan of using Google’s news site even before my jump into the Android mobile platform. It gives succinct information with proper customization and utilizes Google’s ability to acquire a vast array of news sources.
I often forget just how open the Android platform is for personalization. I have used the home screen shortcut function for other purposes besides my favorite apps before and the idea struck me that perhaps I could do the same for one of my favorite mobile news websites. So here is what I did, and what you can do, to create the “Google News App.” (Note: I will refer to this as an “app” throughout the tutorial even though it is not necessarily an actual application).
- On your Android phone, open your browser and select the “News” tab at the top (if you have a different home screen for your browser simply visit www.google.com/news)
- Create a bookmark for this page (Menu > bookmarks > add)
- Rename the bookmark “News”
- Go to your home screen and long press on any open area
- Select > Shortcuts > Bookmark > and then the “News” bookmark you just created
Now you should have a “News” icon created on your home screen (it should look like a newspaper shown here at the bottom right of the screen).
Now you can have fun with the customization. Click on the “News” icon and it will launch you straight to Google News. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and make sure you are signed into your Google account.
You can add sections of interest to you that are not a part of the default Google News categories. Simply select “Add Section.” It gives you the option to Add a Local section or add a custom section.
This gives you the option to add News content specific to a City, State, or Zip Code. The second option to add a Custom Section is by far my favorite feature. Here you can add a keword (or words) and Google will aggregate news pertaining to that specific word (or words). So if you want to aggregate news about Android, this gives you the option to add a custom section and Google will bring you a virtually endless list of articles.
Next, select “Personalize Edition” and you can move the various news categories up or down according to your level of interest. You can even “hide” categories that appear completely irrelevant to your liking. (Note: Top Stories will always be at the top by default and it appears you cannot change this setting).
After you have finished customizing you can now enjoy your newly created News “app.” I loved going through the whole set-up process as it allowed me to feel full autonomy over “creating” the app. I have become accustomed to simply searching for an app, downloading it, and then using it. This is a different format and allows for a normal Android user to feel empowered over the way they use their device. There are, however, a few drawbacks to the “Google News App.”
- It is the mobile web and has to load every time you launch the app. This has not been a problem for me as I have the best phone on the best network (Droid, Verizon). I have 11 News sections and the page loads in literally seconds upon launching.
- The news does not aggregate in real-time or chronological order. In an instantaneous society we thrive on the most up-to-date information. This definitely proves to be a major caveat for me but after using the “app” for a few days I have grown to look past the limitation.