Does the iPad and iPhone need yet another magazine or newspaper style app? Well, despite the popularity and craftsmanship of similar apps like Flipboard, Zite, and Pulse, Factyle’s Smartr News, released last week, has its own unique features and approach to using your Twitter and Facebook feeds for downloading news and other content.
If your social network usage is like mine, most of your social feeds consist of links to web content rather than pure messages. Likewise, you probably post more links than you do messages. So it only makes sense to have an app exclusively devoted to using your social networks as news feed sources. Smartr News is similar to Flipboard, but it’s more streamlined.
Set Up Pages
Smartr News starts you off with a few Technology, Breaking News, and Trending RSS feeds of news stories, but adding your Twitter and Facebook accounts personalizes your Smartr News content. It actually downloads the links to articles on the timeline of your social networks and displays them read-only style stripped of ads and other obtrusive content.
The two-column display includes your feeds on one side, and your selected linked content on the other.
If you have the right selection of Twitter and Facebook friends, their links also become a part of your news sources, providing you an abundant amount of content.
In addition, Smartr News comes with featured feeds for sports, “Long Reads” (long thoughtful articles), celebrity gossip, fashion, movies, trending, and the like.
A preview of your pages are displayed as squares, each with a headline and an image of leading stories. You can also add pages to this top list.
Similar to other news apps in this genre, Smartr provides several ways to share stories and save them for later reading. Besides having your own posted links shared on your social networks, you can also save articles to your Instapaper or Read It Later service.
If the links you post are really important to you and others, Smartr has a unique feature for creating blog pages based on your links.
After you add a new blog, you simply tap to add selected articles to it. Smartr creates an external blog page for you that can be subscribed to by others. The page design of Smartr blogs are very basic, but the intent is have a place where you can build a collection of selected articles to share with others.
Unfortunately however, you have to view your blog outside of Smartr. It doesn’t download within the app itself.
Another way to get more news content in Smartr is by creating an Activity page that consists of selected friends with similar interests to yours that you can follow. Your Activity page will consist solely of their posts with their news links.
Smartr also provides a list of “handpicked featured users” to get you started.
Smartr’s other features include the ability to write and post directly to your Twitter and Facebook timelines, as well as to Tumblr and Posterous.
You can also navigate the newsreader app really easily with a single finger gesture. In addition to tapping on individual stories in the timeline, you can swipe your finger on the right column to move to the previous or next story in the timeline. This makes for a really quick way to scan stories without a lot of hand movement across the screen.
So is Smartr a replacement for other newsreader apps? Well, it depends on what your needs are. If you get most of your news from your social networks, then yes, Smartr seems to be the best way to go. Let us know what you think.