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USA TODAY: A must-have for anyone who wants to know on the go


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  1. gregbramble

    gregbramble Guest This Topic's Starter

    Let's face it, USA Today isn't the most eloquent of papers - in fact - it isn't even a very interesting newspaper. However, as this app shows, it does deliver the daily headlines concisely and directly. And frankly, this is just the right touch for a news service on the Android phones.

    First, some highlights of this app. Firstly, it is FREE. Free news, no catches. Second, it is always updated, bringing the latest news. Third, it works offline, which is useful for travelers. Fourth, it is still USA Today, so the writing isn't amazing. Fifth, it combines functionality found in several different apps - news, sports, and weather. Now let's study the app in more detail.

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    The above image (courtesy of usatoday.com) shows the main navigation screen of the application. At first glance, it is a much friendlier and simpler UI than any of the other Android news apps I have seen, like Express News, which offers too many options and headlines. All of the important features of the app are accessible from this navigation screen. There is the Media Format row, at the top, which clearly divides the app into 5 sections, each with its own approach to media. The main two, Headlines and Scores (which I will discuss later), appear farthest to the left, followed by Weather, then finally the little-used but interesting Pictures and Snapshots. Then, in the center of the interface is the content section, which is given most of the screen real estate. Finally, at the bottom there is the very important "Last updated" time, which is useful because it enables you to determine story freshness even if you have lost network connectivity.

    Again looking at the above image, let's take a closer look at the most useful part of the app, Headlines. This section is further divided into news category much like a regular newspaper. The Top News and News sections contain a good sampling of the latest US and world news. Top news contains more recent headlines, some of which are sometimes not very newsworthy, and News usually contains all the latest and sometimes few-days-old useful stories. The articles are updated all the time and are usually short and well-written. Navigation of articles is quite easy, just slide left or right to select the news section. Then, slide up and down to see headlines, sorted with the newest articles first, along with small descriptions. Finally, press an article to bring up the full text. The full text is usually fairly thorough but not excruciatingly long. I can usually read 2 or 3 stories in the 5 or 10 minutes I have when taking a break at work or riding in the subway. The other sections are Money, Sports, Life, Tech, Travel. I find that all sections usually have at least one interesting article. In Sports, I can select a certain sport and read the latest stories in my favorite sport. Also, if I spend 10 minutes on the app in the morning, I know all the big news stories of the day plus a thing or two nobody else heard about.

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    The second item in the Media Format row is Scores (see above picture, courtesy of usatoday.com). It has a very clean UI and all scores from the major sports. It is most effective for looking at what happened last night in sports. A downfall for this section is that for live scores it does require network connectivity, and I prefer SportsTap for this as I find it more detailed and updated more frequently.

    All in all, this app takes the straightforward paper USA Today which struggles a bit in the real world because it is too simple, and puts it in a place where simple news is exactly in demand. This duo makes USA Today for Android a must-have for anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on the go.
     

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