Google releases news reading app Currents

LAST week, Google finally released for Android devices, iPad and iPhone its long-awaited mobile news reading application Google Currents.

The application, however, is still only available for devices in the US. The decision to allow only US users to test the application has sparked criticisms in some website comments sections. While previous Google products came out first as invitation-only beta programs, they offered everyone the same chances of getting into the testing pool.

Android users outside the US, however, can still install the application by downloading the installer from other sources. I got mine from the XDA Developers forum.

My first impression of the app was that it was visually appealing in that less-is-more kind of way that has become the trend nowadays. There has been a general movement toward simpler design in interfaces and Google Currents reflects that. It was also much more functional and easier to manage than some of the RSS and mobile readers that I am currently using.

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Writing, reading and mobile devices

GOOD Web writing is non-linear. It takes advantage of the key technology behind the Internet—the hyperlink—to provide context, additional information and even marginalia.

It is “writing for selfish readers,” as usability expert Jakob Nielsen puts it.

Web readers have so many sites and services competing for their attention they barely have time to read your article.

TABLET READING. The experience of reading on the tablet is closer to print.

TABLET READING. The experience of reading on the tablet is closer to print. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Nielsen says that in the linear writing of print and TV, readers and viewers expect the author “to construct their experience for them.” In the non-linear character of hypertext-driven writing, users “construct their own experience by piecing together content from multiple sources.”

If another fire were to break out in Cebu, an article written in a non-linear, hypertext manner would just mention that it would be the 10th blaze in recent days, with that phrase hyperlinked to archives of previous stories of the fires. Writing the article that way presents the reader with the option of clicking the link for more background information on the fires or ignoring it if the reader already knows about the previous incidents.

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