Google, which had earlier launched Currents, its iOS and Android app, that lets users browse and read content aggregated from various sources including publishers, individuals and their RSS, video and photo feeds, public Google+ streams and Google reader feeds, in the US, has now extended the app’s availability to other regions including India. The app is available on the Android Play Store and on Apple’s iTunes App Store.
Publisher Editions; Indian content: Google says that nearly 400 publisher editions and 14,000 self-produced editions are available on the app including Hindustan Times and IBNLive in India. Editions are nothing but blog content formatted for a tablet or smartphone experience for easier, magazine-like reading. Publishers can use Google’s Currents Producer to convert their content into a Currents edition by adding feeds, videos, pictures and customising landing pages, while individuals can add blogs of their choice to get an edition through its feed. So it’s essentially a platform for publishers to convert their web content into tablet/mobile friendly format. We also fee that Google might allow publishers to monetize these editions in the future.
Translation & Localised editions: Following the international availability, publishers using Google Currents Producer,will be able to add local content for specific audience, choosing where to make it available globally and whether to enable auto-translation. Google has also integrated Google Translate into Currents- Users can translate an edition into one of the 38 supported languages, after pressing the ‘globe’ button.
Our take: We tried the app on an Android tablet, running the latest iteration of the OS- Ice Cream Sandwich. The app is easy to use and once a user signs in via his Google account, he can choose to add editions to his library from the ones available, his Google reader feed, or just search for the name of a blog, and add its feed. Interestingly, the feeds have a ‘free’ label with them, which indicates that Google might allow publishers to add paid feeds for monetization. Also, while adding the Hindustan Times Feed, we observed that the app asked for our consent for sharing our e-mail address with Hindustan Times.
Interface & Features: The editions can be browsed in his library via a table of contents that lists the items available for reading in a particular edition, or by simply navigating across sections and swiping through articles. The app also offers the ability to search for content cross editions and inside a particular edition. Articles can be shared via e-mail and social networks, as well. Editions can also be saved for ofline reading and can be synchronised according to the user’s preference.
Besides the library, users can also browse through trending stories on Currents, across categories such as top stories, world, business, health technology and others. Interestingly, the app also offers a list of articles on the trending topics from different sources.
We tried adding a feed of a Russian website, the app did offer the globe icon and translation, but took a while processing it. Even after that, full articles were not translated. This might also be because of the fact that the site did not offer full feeds.
Why would you use it? – There are a number of apps that can aggregate articles across Google reader subscriptions, RSS feeds, and even Facebook and Twitter. We feel that the app comes really resembles, FLUD, another reading app, in function. Flipboard, Zite, and Pulse, are other popular apps that do a better job of aggregating and personalising content, and laying it out in a beautiful, tablet optimised, format. Flipboard and Zite are closely integrated with social networks for recommendations, and Flipboard’s user interface is extremely appealing.
Currents does offer a lot in terms of customization, making locating feeds and adding them simple and even offers translation, but overall it’s just a News Reader with some extra features. For publishers, it does offer a cost effective way to reach out to tablet/smartphone users, but why should they choose Currents when there are other better apps available.