Not a fan of Flipboard? Here are three alternative reading apps

March 6, 2014
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Not a fan of Flipboard? With their acquisition of Zite, another big reader app was taken out of the mix. If you don’t really like the magazine page-flipping style of Flipboard, there are other alternatives. Depending on how you find and consume content, one (or more!) of these might do the trick.

Newsstand

When Google rolled Currents into their new Newsstand app, it showed the app’s aim. We liked currents, but it was a bit clumsy. Rolling it into Newsstand livened it up in regard to functionality. The utility of Currents stayed, though.

Newsstand has both Magazines (subscription, obviously) and My News (Currents, more or less). The latter is your Flipboard competitor, and asks that you curate your own feeds — just like Flipboard. The difference is interface, which we find to be snappier and easier to navigate. It all happens via the slide-out menu from the left, and familiar “back” key up top. We really like the interface, too — simple, clean, and lets us scroll rather than flip.

Newsstand AC

Feedly

Feedly replaced Google Reader for many of us, and it remains one of the better ways to consume information quickly. Though we think of RSS feeds as pretty boring, like a dull hammer, Feedly is a nice alternative. The interface is neat, and it works across platforms. A little bonus here is that it will use your Google+ as a sign-in, so you won’t have to remember yet another password.

More than any other on this list, Feedly allows for a lot of customization. You can choose to see headlines or more robust text/pictures in the main stream, and even toy with how you navigate the app and articles. Feedly also keeps with the new Android styling and slide-out menu, so it looks as good as it functions. We’re a big fan of double-tap to close an article, so give that a shot when you're knee-deep in settings.

There is also a function to share to your favorite reading service (like the next on our list) or favorite social site with one tap. Feedly can be conjured to work just how you want it to, and lets you consume more info in a shorter time than anything else. There is a Feedly Pro, which is a bit expensive for the average reader among us, but a good option for information junkies. If you’re an avid consumer or info, Feedly might be your go-to, here.

Feedly AC

Pocket

Though Pocket has no “feed” to speak of, we like it for a few reasons. The app works by saving items shared to it for offline use and viewing later. It’s great for those times you come across an interesting article or video, but just don’t have time to check it out. It’s also great for being avaiable across platforms, and there’s even a Chrome extension and OS X app for it, which saves items to Pocket quickly and easily. Two views keep it simple, and the reading interface is a pure joy. Again, a Google+ log-in keeps it simple.

Pocket AC

One thing we find really neat about Pocket is the option to switch to web view rather than the stripped-down reading mode. Say a picture didn't load properly, and it needs to be seen to make sense of the article. Just pop into web view, and you'll see it as the Internet intended, all without leaving the app. Pretty sublime.

You can also choose which topics you want to read by tagging them. There are no folders to tuck topics away to, but you can tag them. We will admit the tagging feature is a bit cumbersome (you have to enter list view before tagging, and it's much easier via the Chrome extension), but it works once you get it down. Sharing from Chrome mobile is nice, and Pocket seems to work with jsut about any app we’ve run across. For picking up where you left off, Pocket is fantastic.

Pocket Web AC

Conclusion

We were big fans of Zite, but Flipboard? Not so much. It’s a bit clumsy for quick reading, asking for more of a sit-down-and-read type of lifestyle, which doesn't suit us most times. We don’t hate Flipboard, per se, but we’re not crazy about it. These three apps are meant to be alternatives, but could also serve to round out your Flipboard experience (if you’re a fan).

These three apps also represent different ways of consuming media. Newsstand is more like Flipboard to our mind, it just doesn’t ask that you “flip”. Feedly is great for consuming content quickly, while Pocket is wonderful for getting back to an article or video without having to remember where it was that you found it. If you have a suggestion for a reading app you like, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know which is your favorite.


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  • http://profiles.google.com/bogorad bogorad

    Death of Zite is a disaster! Nothing compares to their smart algorithm. I use newsblur for RSS, but it only shows things I’m subscribed to – no new stuff, no occasional important and interesting articles. Techmeme and Mediagazer help a little, but that’s only tech and media.

    • Say It Ain’t So!!!

      I agree and lament this acquisition as Flipboard is so crappy. I will sorely miss Zite!

      • jrstark

        The Zite team says the app will stay around for at least 6 months, so there is a little time if that holds.

  • Dave Harrison

    My favorite right now is Innoreader, actually has been since the death of Google reader. The Android app is quite nice and web interface is just as appealing. I highly recommend giving it a try.

  • Doug M

    PULSE… FTW.

    • renGek

      Pulse used to be my favorite until it got bought by LinkedIn. Now it is AWFUL. The ui now has a variety of performance issues, doesn’t update properly, feeds repeats. Worse part is they keep changing the ui and each time it becomes less intuitive.

  • pilot

    newsstand is horrible. Takes forever to update and destroys the battery. Feedly doesn’t work offline which is a must.

    Ever since google reader died the days of me reading RSS died with it. Maybe that is why the inventor of RSS offed himself.

  • jrstark

    I tried News Republic which has promise. It needs an option to stay in list mode (starts out looking like Flipboard) but its discovery needs a lot more. It’s UK based and that shows on many topics. What else is there that picks up non-tech non-media topics like Zite does? And all the not-so-popular niche blogs?

  • ereader2012

    Also will miss Zite. It loads faster than Flipboard, great for quick reads and the ability to discover new content.

    P.S Press is another good feed reader for RSS subscriptions.

  • Filipe

    I am satisfied with gReader.

  • LoveACbutYouGuysNeedAnEditor

    avaiable = available

    jsut = just