Circa News, an excellent news app, was just updated with new features for both iOS and Android. Now seems like a good time to compare Circa with another leading news app, Yahoo News Digest.
The main attraction in Circa News version 3.0 for Android and iOS is a feature called “Wire.” It’s a new area within the app that does two things: It provides a list of top news stories, summarized in one paragraph, and it provides quick updates to stories you’ve opted to follow. Wire is updated throughout the day, and you can also opt to receive a “Dynamic Daily Briefing” of breaking news and followed stories at a designated time.
Circa News also now offers a useful search feature. You can customize breaking news alerts by topic, or choose not to receive any notifications. Additionally, you can choose from an expanded selection of 13 topics in the app’s main news list and in your personalized Wire list. I’d like to be able to make my news list cover all topics, so I don’t miss anything, with a list of Wire stories focused on just a few topics. But I don’t see an option to segment topics in this way.
Yahoo News Digest on Android was updated on Sept. 23 to include “bug fixes and performance enhancements.” The iOS app was updated Sept. 17 to include an iOS 8 Today widget, a nice feature that lets you see the top news story on your Today screen. As of this writing, Circa News doesn’t offer a Today widget.
Yahoo News Digest is different than Circa News because it delivers updated stories twice daily, following the quaint (but still useful) model of a morning and afternoon print newspaper. It limits updates to the top 10 stories. Each update is just two paragraphs long and augmented with pull quotes, video, photos, related stories and Wikipedia entries, and Twitter feeds. It’s a nice balance of a quick overview and hooks for deeper dives.
In comparison, Circa News articles are about four paragraphs long, though the writing is more succinct. Stories also include pull quotes, links to related stories and articles used as sources for Circa summaries, as well as relevant graphics, such as maps.
There are plenty of other news aggregator apps, but Circa News and Yahoo News Digest are my two favorites. I flick through Yahoo News Digest when I just want the quickest glimpse of headlines. When I have a few more minutes to spare, I cruise through Circa News because it offers a more well-rounded and frequently updated overview of breaking news.
Truth is, I was tempted to start this comparison by describing it as a “rematch” or a “smackdown” or to somehow work the phrase mano a mano in somewhere. But honestly, there’s no need to choose one app over the other. Both are free and currently without ads. And both do a great job of delivering bite-sized news updates tailored for smartphone-sized attention spans.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.