Review: News360


The internet has a lot of news out there, and while there are many single sources of news that have created their own applications for Windows Phone (let's point out our reviews of The Guardian and Sky News apps). News360 is different - it's an aggregator, looking at the headlines, stories and popularity, all over the web, and serves them up in this Windows Phone application.

Author: News360

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As with any aggregator, how the stories are rated and ordered is the secret sauce that will help or hinder the application, and it's difficult to have a single formula that works for everyone. News360 minimises this with different categories for the user to explore, as well as a Photo-driven headlines area and News360's best guess at the world's top stories.

You can take a global view of the world for news, or you can switch News360 to deliver your local news. This is toggled from the menu bar, and, while it does take a bit of time to get the location and work out what to present over the panorama view, it does work well, and competes well with the reports in the local press here in Edinburgh.

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What's nice to see is the prominent attribute to all the news sources used by News360, and it's a simple matter to click through to these sites to read all the stories from source, while staying inside the News360 interface. At the bottom of each story is a link that will take you to the website with that news story, which I guess is there to show that News360 is being honest with its sources of news. However, I would point out it is a web instance inside of the application, rather than launching the web browser, so News360 keeps you as a captive reader in their portal for a little longer. That's good for News360's business model, but perhaps a little sneaky. It would be nice to have a place to break out, perhaps to save bookmarks of an oft-visited site.

Seeing sources is actually an important thing - whether you read The Guardian or the Daily Mail, you have a fair idea of the bias in the paper. The same is true of any story, even in niche areas. News360 can't balance these out by automatic means, so the next best thing to to provide the intelligent reader with as much information about the story as possible.

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Take the Eurovision Song Contest. As you know, I'm a bit of the fan of the contest, which makes for a good test of News360's search facility (because I know what's going on in this small subset of world news, entertainment, politics, and diplomacy). News 360 has done well, picking up stories reporting on new websites, commentary on the national finals, and the political issues that impact the contest - such as the recent death of an Armenian soldier shot by an Azerbaijani sniper (reported by a Russian news desk).

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Throw in the usual expected tools for a Windows Phone application, such as sharing stories on your social networks, good use of Metro UI elements and suggested navigation, and you have a solid application that lets you see what's happening in the world. It might paint events with a broad sweep, but that's the nature of the material it finds. If you'd rather get your news from more than one publisher, then this free application needs to be somewhere on your list so you can evaluate it.

It covers all the bases with good code, and while there are no stand-out features, it doesn't fail in any respect. Recommended, and above average, but there's scope for improvement.

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