by James A. Martin

Google Currents for iOS, Android Does One Thing Better Than Flipboard

May 16, 20122 mins

Google’s answer to Flipboard for iOS, Currents, can’t compete with Flipboard's deep social-media integration, sharp interface and better content selection. But if you’re an Android user or you're frequently on the go without Wi-Fi, Google Currents deserves a place on your mobile device.

Flipboard is a hugely popular iOS app that lets you read up on favorite variety of topics from your preferred media sources. It has social-media hooks built in, so you can easily tweet or retweet stories on Twitter, like them on Facebook and +1 them on Google+. The app also lets you view updates from your Facebook friends in its magazine format.

So why would any iOS user want another social-magazine-styled news aggregator besides Flipboard? Unfortunately, Flipboard (current version 1.9) lacks a critical feature found in a similar application: Google Currents.

Google’s article aggregator app, available for iOS (version 1.1.1) and Android (version 1.1.0), provides offline access to all the articles from your preferred news sources. Google Currents doesn’t include images in the articles to save storage space and battery. But you can change a setting to automatically include all images or only images from certain publications. Flipboard, by comparison, lets you hit a “Read later” button for individual articles, but that’s not as useful.

Google Currents is also a bit more streamlined than Flipboard. The app consists of two sections: Library, which includes your selected online publications; and Trending, top stories in the categories you choose—World, Business, Entertainment, Sports, Health, Technology, and Science.

Google Currents iOS Android app

Given that Currents is a Google product, it’s not surprising that the app is optimized for Android tablets as well as smartphones. The app looks good and has clear navigation on iOS and Android smartphones, though it’s definitely better suited for a tablet’s larger screen.

I like Google Currents, but it’s not going to replace Flipboard for me. I still prefer Flipboard’s look and feel, broader range of topics (such as “Cool Curators”), and deeper integration with social media. But if you’re often on the go without access to Wi-Fi, Google Currents deserves a slot on your tablet.