The internet's a big place, expanding every day—so how do you make sure you're catching up on the best of what the web has to offer?
By having the right apps and tools at your disposal. Whether you're interested in news stories in your area of expertise or every published article from one particular source, news apps to help you sort the good stuff from the rest.
With Facebook and other sites constantly changing their approach to just how far different types of content can travel, you need a reliable way of surfacing the best material. Here are our recommendations for the best news apps (including news aggregators and news readers), so you can stay on top of information overload and never miss out on what's important to you. And, unless otherwise noted below, these apps are all free.
1. Google News
Best for a bird's eye view of breaking stories
Of particular note are the Full coverage panels, available on bigger stories—they give you a range of sources on a breaking story, plus relevant tweets and videos, and even a timeline showing you how events have unfolded.
On top of that you can follow the topics and news sources you're most interested in, and give individual stories a thumbs up or a thumbs down, all of which means you'll get more relevant news the next time around.
While it's not the most important consideration, the modern-looking app interface certainly helps as well, directing you quickly to the main meat of a story.
2. Apple News
If you want both humans and an algorithm curating news for you
It's not had as big an overhaul as Google News, but Apple News (integrated into iOS and now macOS) has been given a few upgrades of its own lately, including a new sidebar that pops up on the iPad app.
What's more, Siri now chimes in (if you want it to) to suggest stories based on the apps you've been using and the sites you've been browsing in Safari. The more you use Apple News, the theory goes, the smarter it gets at working out what you want to read about.
Top stories curated by Apple's team of human editors are dropped into the mix as well, giving you a number of options for navigating through the breaking news of the day. You can also browse by category using the headings on the left of the app.
We like the way everything's kept contained in the Apple News itself, which means you're not fighting with 20 open browser tabs to get to the content you want.
Perfect for a visual overview of the big stories
Flipboard (iOS, Android, web) is based around the idea of a digital magazine curated by you—a compendium of stories of interest, pulled from your choice of news sources, blogs, and any other site you can plug into Flipboard (which is pretty much all of them).
You can be as broad or as specific as you like with Flipboard: Point it towards a general topic like technology or productivity, or specify one site in particular that you want to keep up with, and Flipboard mixes everything together seamlessly.
In terms of the interface especially, Flipboard beats out other news-gathering apps, with an intuitive flow that feels natural whether you want to check out the top stories of the day or dig deeper into something that hasn't been as widely covered. Where relevant, podcasts, tweets, and videos can be embedded alongside news stories.
It's not just for you either—you can collect together articles in a Flipboard magazine to share with family or with a team at work, helping other people to focus on what's important in certain sectors and cut out the extraneous noise.
Get every new blog post or article from your favorite sites in one place
RSS suits those who want all the news from a particular blog or website, unfiltered by algorithms or editors: It includes everything a site publishes, so you don't miss anything from your favorite sources. If you can't be online for a day, all the stories are ready and waiting for you when you get back.
There are many reasons why Feedly is our RSS reader of choice, from the ease-of-use of the interface to the wealth of options and features you get: A read-it-later list, comprehensive search and sharing tools, advanced filtering, tools for adding notes and highlights, and so on.
It really does include every feature you could ask for, and can even keep tabs on sites that don't have a traditional RSS feed. Feedly connects with a host of other useful services and apps too, including Zapier.
A supercharged version of Twitter
TweetDeck (web or macOS) is often described as Twitter for the pros, and this third-party client is so good that Twitter itself bought it in 2011. TweetDeck offers a host of useful features, including real-time updating and advanced searches and filters.
The TweetDeck interface is based around columns, and you can have as many of them as you want really—for your main timeline, for lists, for notifications, for specific searches you've run, and so on. You might set up one of your columns to find hits for the hashtag #zapier, for instance, and watch the tweets roll in.
No matter what you want to keep tabs on, whether it's a trending news story or a particular account handle—or dozens of them at once—TweetDeck can help. All of your columns can have certain words matched or excluded, and they can be limited to specific users (like your team's accounts) if necessary.
The only downside is it's only fully supported on the web (Twitter shut down the Windows version and the Mac version hasn't been significantly updated in a few years). But if the news you need is out there on Twitter, TweetDeck will deliver it for you.
If you want to surface the most shared stories from your network
What Nuzzel (iOS, Android, web) does best is cut through the noise that might be overwhelming your Twitter or LinkedIn feed to bring you the most popular stories being shared by most of your contacts on those networks.
You choose whom to follow on those platforms, and so—the theory goes—the stuff they share is the stuff you want to read about. Nuzzel makes sure the big stories of the day in your feeds get surfaced quickly, so you can let everything else drift by. In practice, it works really well.
If just seeing the stories popular with your closest contacts feels too restrictive, then Nuzzel lets you broaden this out by looking at stories being shared by "friends of friends," and the stories trending more generally across LinkedIn and Twitter. For those of you who need a concise summary of the news of the day, Nuzzel is handy.
The app has got a couple of other useful features, too: When a story starts to be shared by a lot of your friends, you can get breaking news alerts about it on mobile. Plus, Nuzzel lets you easily create your own email newsletters, by curating your pick of the top stories and enabling you to add as much or as little additional commentary as you like.
Get a deeper dive behind trending articles
Pocket (iOS, Android, web) is primarily a read-it-later service, somewhere you can stash articles and videos you discover on the web until you're ready to get around to reading or watching them. However, it can help you find the best reads too.
Click the "Recommended" or "Explore" links on the web or the "Discover" tab on mobile to bring up a list of articles that are trending on the Pocket network. These are the web posts that are gaining a lot of traction with audiences (Pocket has over 10 million monthly active users). These picks are partly determined by the articles you've already saved in your Pocket account, so they should match your interests.
Of course, you can save any of these recommendations to Pocket as well and organize them with tags or stick them in the Favorites category for easy access. No matter what device you're on, you can find something good to read with Pocket.
Tap into the power of the crowd
You might think of Reddit (iOS, Android, web) as something vaguely analogous to the Wild West of the Web, and you'd be right. However, if you know how to use the site and apps properly, it's one of the top spots for finding the most essential online content with just a few clicks or taps.
You can start on the self-styled "front page of the internet"—the Reddit homepage—or dive deeper into the subreddits that match your interests, whether that's entrepreneurship, technology, creativity, productivity, or anything else. If there's a topic you're interested in, then chances are there's a subreddit you can subscribe to.
Thanks to the busy Reddit community, it's like having an army of users searching out the best content on the web for you. Add in the new redesign on top, which makes posts cleaner and easier to read, and it's well worth including in your news-gathering tools.
Find stories you probably won't find anywhere else
Like Reddit, Digg (iOS, Android, web) aims to bring the best of what's on the web to you, via the power of proprietary algorithms and some good old-fashioned human curation. Its tagline is "what the internet is talking about right now," which sums it up pretty well.
The front page presents you with an elegantly laid out summary of the most important stories of the day, and you'll find these stories tend to shy away from breaking news to focus more on long reads and more thoughtful content. It's a useful way of finding excellent writing outside of the daily news cycle.
Various category sections let you go further into Digg's news curation service, and at any point you're able to save articles for later reading or share them out more widely. While it doesn't have much in the way of personalization, it can be your quick stop-off point for articles and videos of interest.
For discovering great reads from top content publishers
Mix (web) recently absorbed StumbleUpon, one of the oldest discovery tools on the web, and it's now looking to carry on the same tradition of helping you find the most notable content on the web.
At times, the process of finding articles almost feels serendipitous. You pick topics you're interested in, such as life hacks, technology, culture, travel, or space, and let Mix do the rest—It serves up super-relevant stories across all of the categories you've selected. On top of that, you can point Mix towards specific sites you enjoy reading.
The news sources that Mix plunders are some of the best and most respectable sites on the web, from National Geographic to Mental Floss, so you're guaranteed to finding something interesting and informative to read every time you load up the site. Articles can be saved to customizable collections inside your account too, for safe keeping.
For when you want your news easily digestible
Another news-collecting app worthy of your time is Zig (iOS, Android, web). The idea is to quiz you on your interests, from celebrities to news topics, and then serve up a personalized platter of news that looks good and is a breeze to get through.
In other words, Zig is out to remove as much digital clutter from your life as possible, a welcome aim in our times of information overload and a never-ending cascade of news. Part of the app's magic is the way it takes detailed stories or topics and summarizes them in a visual, bite-sized way that won't slow you down unnecessarily.
Emphasis is given to photos and videos over text, so this isn't the place to find long reads or detailed industry analysis, but the Zig apps work well as automated entry points for the news of the day—and they can save you a lot of time clicking and scrolling on the web.
Best for getting the news tailored to you
Finally, there's News360 (iOS, Android, web), a news aggregator app that's been around since 2010 and does a fantastic job of pulling together news from multiple sources, based around your interests and preferences.
You'll find News360 simple to connect to and simple to operate, with the option of Facebook and Twitter integration available to further refine the type of stories you see (based on your social media sharing activity). If you then like or dislike articles as they appear, the News360 algorithms get refined even further.
Everything is wrapped up in a visually pleasing, card-based interface that works really well for at-a-glance news consumption, as well as for pulling in the key stories you need to know about from the mass of content that's out there online. One of News360's best features is it shows, for each topic, how many sites are referencing it. For example, you can see at a glance that Sports Illustrated and 413 other sites reported on the 2018 NBA Draft. Unlike your RSS reader or Twitter stream, you won't see multiple versions of the same story, which means you can get the news you want without too much clutter.
The avalanche of news that breaks each and every day can be daunting, but with the right apps at hand, it doesn't have to be—you can get the news you want, in the way you want it, and keep up to speed with what's happening in the world.
By the way, did you know that Zapier has a New York Times integration? That means you can automatically send new NYT articles that match certain keywords to your favorite apps, such as Evernote or Pocket, share new NYT articles automatically on Twitter, and more. With over 1,000 apps on Zapier, you can customize where you want the news to be picked up from and where you want it saved or published. See all you can do with RSS and News on Zapier.
Title photo by Freepik