Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reading the news, magazine style

I've been looking for a more exciting way of getting my daily news fix. I've always been a fan of Google Reader, even on the Android, but I thought I'd see if there was something with a bit more zing to it. So off I went with a bumpety-bump to the App store.

I had tried a couple of magazine-type app before. Pulse was one, but I never felt too comfortable with it.

Google's Currents was another, and has the nicest interface of all such apps by far, but 34 mb installed size? That, along with the fact it's one of the major apps that drain the battery made me - reluctantly - uninstall it.

There's a buzz around the new app Flipboard,  but having tried it the slide down navigation gives me jitters. And I can not for the life of me work out how to delete a feed.

I also looked at News Republic. 'It's smart, it's beautiful, it's just for you'. Well thank you, but no thanks. As pretty as it is, it just felt a little it was telling me what I ought to read.

So in the end, I decided to stick with my Google Reader app. It seems to strike a balance; it's simple, quick, and I do like that I can read the full headline before deciding if I want to read the article (Currents so often truncated both the headline and the article intro).

I should make a special mention of another news-related app. UK Newspapers Online really just lists and links to a categorised selection of UK news mobile sites. But it is useful to be able to go directly to a mobile versions of a site, and the app lets you remove items from their broad list of news sites.

Voip on Android

I had thought that Skype on the Android made a lot of sense, especially when using wi-fi. But the Skype app is a little clunky, so I looked for an alternative. That led me to explore the world of Voip, or rather SIP, which is an open standrad version of VoIP, and also supported by versions of Android above 2.1.

There are a number of Voip apps on the market. I had tried Sipdroid but given up. The breakthrough was made when I changed to 3CXPhone. Extremely easy to set-up, and great clarity. Another option is CSipSimple, which is very similar to 3CX but also lets you send SMS. I chose 3CX in the end because I wasn't happy that CSipSimple ran in the background, even when I wasn't connected.

What you'll also need is a SIP provider. I use which I've found to be reliable, cheap, and has a good web control panel.